Milk chocolate M&M's are plain no more

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HACKETTSTOWN, N.J - After 46 years as Plain M&M's, the popular chocolate-coated candies have been renamed Milk Chocolate M&M's.

M&M gave the multicolored candies the Plain name in 1954 at the time the company introduced Peanut M&M's.

"For a long, long time, our chocolate has been too good to be called plain, but we were living with almost 50 years of heritage of calling them plain," according to Michael Tolkowsky, vice president for marketing and licensing at M&M/Mars.

To support the name change, M&M/ Mars, a division of Mars Inc., will spend roughly $10 million for an ad campaign that carries the slogan "Same great chocolate. Much better name," and has been phasing in the new versions of the brown-and-white packages for a few months.

One television commercial shows people describing their professions with politically correct terms, such as "domestic care giver" instead of baby sitter. Then, an animated red M&M's character stands up to say, "I am not a plain M&M. I am a milk chocolate M&M."

According to the company, the change isn't designed solely to help sales, which rose 12 percent last year. The company conducted consumer research that shows the customers would not be confused by the name change and may actually give the candy more attention.

There's also new packaging that features a slightly updated logo and the permanent addition of the candy pieces, but will remain the familiar brown-and-white color scheme.