Mars Company History

MARS and Snickers bars.

 A Look Into The Mars Corporation

Most people mistake a family-owned business for a classic mom-and-pop shop with operations in a small localized region.

However, there are family-owned entities that operate globally in more than 50 states and make billions of dollars in annual revenue. The Mars Corporation is a good case in point.

Mars, Incorporated started more than a century ago with one factory that made candy and confectionery products.

Today, this corporation owns over 50 world-popular brands and has diversified its product line to pet care products, snack foods, main meal foods, and automated electronic payment systems.

What’s notable about The Mars Corporation is that it is family-owned, despite its large size.

The corporation has passed through three family generations and yet remained successful over the years. Let’s take a look at the history of The Mars Corporation.


Frank C. Mars founded The Mars Corporation in 1911 as Mar-O-Bar Co. He started the company with one candy factory in Tacoma, Washington, that sold candy and confectionery products.

Back then, his company had only 125 employees. Mars-O-Bar Co. remained in this location until 1920 when Frank Mars relocated the company to a large plant in Minneapolis.

He also introduced Snickers and Milky Way bars to the company’s product catalog.

Mars-O-Bar Co wasn’t performing so well in 1922, having suffered a $6,000 loss. The company recovered in 1924, with sales exceeding $700,000.

In 1926, Frank Mars changed the company’s name to Mars Candies after realizing the company was growing. He then moved operations to a larger facility in Chicago in 1928.
rice in someone's hands.
Mars Candies continued performing well even through the Great Depression. The company quadrupled sales and introduced new products, including 3 Musketeers, Snickers Bar, and Mars Almond Bar.

In the late 1920s, Frank Mars appointed his son, Forrest E. Mars, to manage the candy operation in his company, despite the two having a rocky relationship.

Later in the 1930s, Frank granted his son capital and rights to manufacture the Milky Way brand product and sent him off overseas to start his entity.

Forrest Mars relocated to England and founded a pet food and confectionery company, which became successful.

Back home, Mars Candies was also succeeding, so much so that the company added a new product line; main meal products.

This category included rice products such as whole grain, instant rice, savory and frozen rice. Mars Candies started selling its rice products to the U.S Army, especially during World War II and later introduced this product line to the public after the war.

By 1952, the company’s rice product line had become the top brand in the United States.

In 1958, Mars Candies opened a new factory in Hackettstown, New Jersey, to cater to increased demand.

The company later opened more plants in Europe, one at Veghel, the Netherlands. In 1967, Mars Candies merged with the company owned by Forrest Mars, who immediately took over the management of the newly merged entity.

Forrest Mars instituted an egalitarian system where everyone got equal treatment.

Workers, henceforth, were referred to as associates, and every associate, even top-level managers, was supposed to punch a time clock when arriving at work. Forrest also paid his associates more than the industry average.


Mars has only one founder, Frank C. Mars, whom the company is named after. Frank Mars learned to make candies and chocolates by watching his mother, who made these savory bonbons for her family.

By the time he went to high school, Mars had so good a grasp on making confectionery that he had begun creating his own candy recipes.

The informal learning in his mother’s kitchen later proved valuable when he established his first candy business with his first wife, Ethel.

Unfortunately, this business failed, but it didn’t deter Mars from starting another one, which we now know as Mars, Incorporated.


Mars suffered some setbacks in its 100-year tenure, but the most resounding ones occurred in the late 1980s.

The first setback occurred in 1988 when the company lost market share to its biggest competitor, Hershey Foods Corporation.

Hershey acquired rights to Cadbury Schweppes’s U.S division, thus becoming the largest candy maker in the United States.

Mars also endured another setback when it launched Sussande chocolate bars in 1989. This brand didn’t appeal to customers.


Mars Headquarters.
Most brands and new products Mars introduced were successful, beginning with the rice product line in 1943.

In 1968, the company also acquired Kal Kan Foods, a corporation that manufactured pet foods.

This acquisition elevated Mars to become the largest dog food supplier worldwide, with subsidiaries in Australia, Europe, and South America.

One year later, Mars launched Mars Electronics International (MEI) in Britain and later expanded this subsidiary’s operations to the United States in 1972.

MEI offered many products and services, for example,  cashless payment systems, bill technology, and later laser scanning devices in the 1980s.

In 1987, Forrest merged the British MEI subsidiary with the American one, thus becoming the top global maker of electronic coin machines.

Business Strategies

Frank and Forrest Mars expanded The Mars Corporation by diversifying the company’s product catalog and acquiring multiple businesses.

Today, the company has six distinct product segments; Chocolate, Food, Drinks, Petcare, Wrigley, and Symbioscience. Each product segment contains its repertoire of brands and products and has its own headquarters.

Rather than having head offices in one place, Mars positioned them in different locations for easy marketing and distribution.

Marketing Strategies

In the 1970s, Mars had a larger market share than Hershey, its largest competitor.

These two companies battled nip and tuck for the United States market by investing heavily in advertising, business acquisitions, and new product development.

The battle continued until the 1990s when Hershey finally surpassed Mars. By this time, Forrest Mars had already retired as president, leaving ownership of the company to his two sons and one daughter. He passed away in 1999.

Mars utilizes a unique marketing strategy in which each business segment is allowed to price its products.

The corporation requires each product segment to follow a mid-medium pricing strategy that considers factors such as target market dynamics, production, and marketing costs.

This approach helps keep the corporation’s products at a reasonable price and grants them an edge over competitors. Mars also uses different slogans for different products and market territories.

The most famous tagline was “A Mars a day helps you work, rest, and play,” promoted in the 1960s in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Mars now uses multiple advertising channels, including television, social media, and newspapers, among other offline mediums.

The corporation embraces responsible marketing by not marketing to children younger than 13 years old but instead focusing their advertising efforts on parents. Parents are in a better place to decide what and what not to buy for their children.


What lessons can we learn from the Mars story?

  • Family businesses can also hit it big: It’s no secret that most family businesses fail or get acquired within their second or third generation. However, some succeed, and Mars is a good example. Not only has this entity been operational for more than a century. It also contains manufacturing facilities in over 60 countries and markets in more than 150 states.
  • Treat employees well: Forrest Mars managed Mars Candies under the guideline that a good business is built on good products and good people. He paid his employees well and treated them with respect. In the same light, treat your employees well and show them you care. Invest in them, and they will invest in your business.
  • Develop a company that outlives you: The Mars Corporation has seen three generations of family ownership. Its founder died in 1934, and company ownership went to the son, who then passed it on to his children in 1973. Strive to build a business that outlives you. Make your entity agile enough to weather changes and introduce processes and policies that enable operations to continue even when you are not around.
  • Treat everyone equally: Forrest Mars introduced an egalitarian system where employees got referred to as associates, and everyone was treated equally. In this same breadth, treat all your staff members equally. Don’t favor and don’t discriminate against some of your employees. Let everyone feel as if they are part of the team.
    a bowl of Mars candy.

Timeline.Mars Corporation Timeline


Frank Mars founds the Mars Corporation as Mar-O-Bar Co in Tacoma, Washington.


Frank Mars relocates his company to a larger establishment in Minneapolis and introduces the Snickers and Milky Way brands.


Mar-O-Bar Co gets renamed Mars Candies.


Frank Mars relocates his business to a larger plant in Chicago.


Mars introduces the main meal food product line that includes multiple rice products.


Mars Candies constructs a new factory in New Jersey and others in Europe, including the Netherlands.


Mars Candies merges with the business owned by Forrest Mars.


The company acquires Kal Kan, which supplies pet food products.


Mars opens Mar Electronics International (MEI) in Britain.


The company expands MEI operations to the United States.


Forrest Mars retires and leaves ownership of the company to his two sons and one daughter.


Mars acquires Dove International, thus entering the frozen snacks business.


Mars introduces more candy and pet food brands.


Forrest Mars dies at 95 years.

Mars plant in the Netherlands.


Executive Team

The success of a company can be determined by its leadership. With poor leadership, the company will be on a downhill trend, and with strong leadership, you can count on the company to be successful with the issues under its control.

From the link below, you can look into the leadership of mars and get an overview of the people running the company today.

Have a look at the latest search results for the executive team of Mars.

Working at Mars

I think it’s very important that a company treats its employees well no matter what job position they have. My reason is without the frontline workers, the company can’t operate. 

So instead of using the mindset where low positions don’t matter and have high turnover in the company, I would rather treat my employees better, pay them more than the competition, and build a strong workforce I can depend on for many years. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case with some companies. 

The link below offers search results for working conditions at Mars.

Keep in mind some people are just disgruntled, and some people aren’t happy wherever they work, but you will get an overview of working conditions by spending some time and looking at what people have to say about working at Mars.

See the latest search results for working at Mars.

Complaints and Lawsuits

For an overview of problems at a company, look at lawsuits and complaints. The legitimate ones will provide an overview of issues the company may have.

Naturally, class action lawsuits indicate that there’s a big problem. While allowing the company to rectify the situation.

See the latest search results for Complaints and Lawsuits related to Mars.

Company Financials

If you’re interested in the financials of Mars, then the link below offers the latest and most popular search results.

It’s interesting to see how the company started out and where it is today. 

Some financial reports are complicated, but you can see how the company is doing by looking at financial information. 

See the latest search results for Mars financials.

Company Assessment

Searching for “Mars company assessment” will give you an overview of what business analysts think about the company and will reveal their opinion of where the company is headed and whether it’s on an upward or downward trend. 

See the latest Google search results about the worth, performance, and trends related to Mars.


Reading books about the Mars corporation is another way to increase your knowledge of Mars.

So, naturally, an author writes a book with much more detail than an article. If you want, take a few minutes to browse the available books related to Mars chocolates.

View the most recent Google search results for books related to Mars Chocolates.


Using a site like Google News is an excellent way to stay up-to-date with anything related to the Mars company. 

You’ll get the latest news as well as archive news stories.

You can even set up a Google Alert to notify you anytime there’s something in the news about the Mars corporation.

See Google’s news search results related to Mars.


There are various videos related to Mars on YouTube. You can review products and company information, as well as information about the leadership at Mars. 

It’s also worth noting when you’re watching a video, related videos show up on your screen.

Many of these offer topics you may not have considered and are worth looking into. So, if you have a few minutes, check out the latest videos on YouTube related to the Mars corporation.

See the most recent videos related to Mars.