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Mars (Company)

Mars, family of American food manufacturers. Franklin Clarence Mars, 1882–1934, b. Hancock, Minn., was a chocolate manufacturer who produced candy at home before opening a candy factory (1911) in Tacoma, Wash., with his second wife, Elizabeth Veronica Healy Mars (1884–1945). Although the business failed, he founded the Mar-O-Bar Co. (1920; later Mars., Inc.) in Minneapolis. His son, Forrest Edward Mars, Sr., 1904–99, b. Wadena, Minn., suggested adding malt to a chocolate nougat bar and calling it Milky Way; the bar became (1923) the first of many well-known Mars candy products. Forrest joined the company in 1929 after graduating from Yale (1928), but launched his own candy company in Great Britain (1932) after disagreements with and a buyout from his father. He later also started a pet food company there and then a food products company in the United States. When Frank Mars died (1934), his second wife and her family controlled the company until 1964, when they sold out to Forrest, who subsequently merged it with his firm. In 1973, Forrest's children assumed control of the business. Forrest Edward Mars, Jr., 1931–2016, b. Oak Park, Ill., guided the company's global expansion and was co–chief executive officer with John Franklyn Mars, 1935–, b. Arlington, Va.; their sister Jacqueline Mars, 1939–, also was a member of the company's management. One of the largest candy companies in the world, with numerous manufacturing facilities, Mars, Inc., continues to be family managed and privately owned and is now based in McLean, Va. Wrigley, the world's largest chewing gum manufacturer, has been wholly owned by Mars since 2016; Mars also produces beverages, rice, organic foods, and aquarium products and owns pet-care businesses. It is noted for not having executive offices; all employees punch time cards, and all are paid according to the company's profitability.

See J. B. Brenner, The Emperors of Chocolate (1998).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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