Mars Pulls M&M Slot Machine Toys from Leicester Square Store
Global confectionery producer Mars agreed to remove M&M’s products that mimic slot machines from London’s Leicester Square. The candy dispensaries sell for £33 at the M&M’s World store on Leicester Square.
A cross-party parliamentary group sent a strongly-worded letter to Mars on Thursday, asking for the candy machines to be removed. Because of the problem gambling issue in the United Kingdom, the MPs believed such toys are inappropriate.
The MPs stated, “We have heard countless harrowing stories of how gambling addictions have ruined lives and brought misery to the families and communities affected by this addiction. Therefore, we were shocked when it was brought to our attention that M&M were selling a slot machine-style game, marketed at children, in their store in Leicester Square.“
Lawmakers stressed it was the use of slot machine imagery in a children’s product which led to their concern. They stated, “The normalisation of gambling for children can have dangerous effects later on in life and we would like you to reconsider having such an item in your store.”
Mars Pulls M&Ms Slot Machines
Earlier in the day, Mars dismissed concerns in a statement to The Guardian. Later, Mars’ leaders changed their tack and agreed to remove the candy products.
A Mars spokesman said, “We have listened to the concerns raised and have decided to remove it from our store.”
Mars denied the charge that it marketed the slot machine candy dispenser as a children’s toy. The spokesman asserted, “This product was neither designed to normalise gambling nor to appeal to children.”
Dr Samantha Thomas Complained
Dr Samantha Thomas, a gambling research at Australia’s Deakin University, appears to be the first person to have spotted the offending products. Thomas tweeted a photo of an M&Ms slot machine with the caption, “With all the discussion in the UK about gambling harm and the normalisation of gambling for kids, very surprised to see M&M selling this product in its Leicester Square store.”
The Australian associated professor added, “While these products seem like innocent toys, they have the potential to normalise gambling as a fun activity for children.”
Samantha Thomas said children don’t understand the dangers of slot machine gambling. Instead, “They remember the bright lights and positive sounds associated with the machines, and think they are a fun way to make money.”
The professor, who released several studies on gambling harm over the years, said candy-dispensing slot machinese sends the wrong message. She wanted UK’s people to know it is dangerous “combining the winning features of a slot machine with such a well recognised candy brand and cartoon characters.”
Her Twitter posts had a quick and comprehensive effect. Only a few days later, it now appears Mars pulled the products due to the growing public outrage.
About Mars Candy
Mars is a giant corporation. With $33 billion in sales each year and 80,000 employees worldwide, Mars is the 6th-largest US corporation, according to Forbes. The company now controls subdivisions for candy, drinks, petcare, and life sciences.
The Mars family is third only to the Walton family (Walmart) and the Koch family (Koch Industries) in terms of wealth. As of 2010, Forrest Mars was the 52nd richest person in the world.
Mars’ confectionary items includes M&M’s, Snickers, Twix, Milky Way Bars, Mars Bars, and Skittles. The Milky Way bars are known as 3 Musketeers in the United States. Its Dove brand is known as Galaxy in the Middle East. Until 1998, its Starburst candy was known as Opal Fruits in the UK and Ireland. Similarly, its Snickers bars were known as Marathon bars until 1990 in the UK and Ireland.
Those are only its most prominent candy products, of course. Over the years, Mars produced candy brands like Kudos, Topic, Revels, Munch, CocoaVia, Dolmio, Ethel M, Cirku, Tracker, and Celebrations.
Mars also owns the Wrigley Company, which sells bubble gum items. Mars’ gum products includes Juicy Fruit, Orbit, Eclipse, Big Red, Spearmint, Wrigley’s, Freedint, Doublemint, Winterfresh, Hubba Bubba, 5 (gum), Airwaves, and Bubble Tape. Mars produces the breath fresheners, Altoids, and also made the Tunes losenges for a time.
Mars’ pet products include ADVANCE, Iams, Greenies, Nutro, Pedigree, Temptations, Whiskas, Spillers, Royal Canin, Eukanuba, and The Goodlife Recipe. In short, the company is massive and has products in many fields beyond confections.