CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It's no secret that M&M's and Twix bars are two of the world's most popular name brand snacks. But did you know both of them are made in Tennessee?
If you ever have the chance to drive through the small town of Cleveland, Tennessee, roll down the windows and take a sniff. You'll catch a sweet smell of chocolate in the air thanks to the Mars, Corporation's largest production facility. Take a deep breath, because you're inhaling the smell of about half the United States' supply of M&M's, and the entire supply of Twix bars being made.
It's been 75 years since the M&M was invented as a snack to give to our soldiers fighting in World War II, and the brand couldn't be more iconic today. There likely aren't many places on earth where people don't know what an M&M or a Twix bar is, and it's very likely the next time you grab one of the two for a snack, it was made in Tennessee.
"We make millions and millions of M&M's and Twix bars a day," said Damien Weaver with Mars, Corporation.
To make an M&M, Weaver explained it is a lengthy process. It takes 16 hours to make the chocolate center, coat it with the candy shell, then print the iconic "M" on the outside. The chocolate for the candies are made in-house by the company with a secret mix of ingredients. The same can be said for the candy shell. And the way the "M" is printed on the candy is also secret.
In fact, there are a lot of secrets about the unique process of how an M&M comes to life.
"The way we print that (M), and the way we put that candy shell over the chocolate is unique to M&M's around the world. And it's what makes us a surprisingly sophisticated product to make," Weaver explained.
Another secret is the color combination. If you've ever noticed that colors are not equally represented in a bag, you're right. Although the proportions are very specific, Weaver wasn't about to let on to what the numbers look like.
"I can't tell you the color blend," he said. "I can't tell you the exact ratio. I can't give that up. I can tell you that they're not all equal. Not every color is equal in the M&M's bag. The exact ratio is a closely held secret."
It's under the same 640,000 square foot roof of the M&M production lines that the the Twix bars are made from scratch daily. And just like the M&M, the specifications to making a Twix bar is a closely guarded secret as well.
"We make the product from scratch here, making the cookie as well as putting the chocolate on top of it. Every candy bar that goes down the line has special care put into it so it tastes right, feels right, and looks right when it gets to the consumer," Weaver explained.
But 'special care' is an understatement. There isn't a detail overlooked, thought out, or calculated to near perfection when it comes to making the bar. From the crunch of the cookie, the amount of caramel, even the ripple in the chocolate is calculated and planned.
"We don't want there to be too much chocolate on top, or not enough. So you definitely don't want to see any caramel or candy cookie underneath. You want enough chocolate to cover completely and have a nice decoration so it's pleasing to the customer when they open it," said Weaver.
So the next time your sweet tooth is calling for its fix, if you reach for the M&M's or Twix, you're helping put a local Tennessean to work.
M&M's recently unveiled its newest flavor that was voted on by the public. Voters picked "Coffee Nut" as the most desirable, and just like every other special flavored M&M, it will also be Made in Tennessee.