The history of the Mars vs Milky Way bar battle seems like some time traveler went back to fix something in the candy bar timeline but they screwed up so they keep going back to try and fix it. Let’s get into the Milky Way vs Mars Bar saga and see if we can make it make sense.
Milky Way vs Mars Bar: Mars Bar’s story
The first thing to know in this saga is that there’s a lot of different candy bars operating under different names in different countries. There were two versions of Mars Bars: a United Kingdom version and a United States version. The U.K. version contained caramel and nougat coated in milk chocolate, while the U.S. version had roasted almonds and nougat wrapped in milk chocolate. The U.S. version later added caramel. The U.S. Mars Bar was discontinued in 2002. It had its recipe slightly altered and was rereleased as Snickers Almond.
Milky Way vs Mars Bar: Milky Way’s Legacy
There are two types of Milky Way bars as well: a U.S. version and a global version. The global version of the Milky Way is made simply with a nougat center coated in milk chocolate—it’s very similar to the U.S. Three Musketeers. The U.S. Milky Way bar is made with nougat and caramel, coated with milk chocolate. Yep, the same ingredients as the U.K. Mars Bar. But while the two candy bars are very similar, the disbursement of ingredients appears slightly different if you look at a cross-section.
All of the candy bars mentioned are made by Mars Incorporated.
Milky Way vs Mars Bar: How It All Happened
So what is the backstory and history to all this candy confusion? Franklin Clarence Mars started selling chocolate candy bars in 1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Frank invented the Milky Way bar and released it nationally in 1924. The bar was intended to taste like a milkshake, but in bar form. Frank’s son, Forrest Mars Sr eventually joined the business. Forrest grew up estranged from his father, but reconciled with him after college. Their reconciliation did not last long, however, as Forrest wanted to expand the candy bar empire abroad, while his father did not. So Forrest left the company and moved to England where he formed his own company.
Forrest recreated his own version of his dad’s Milky Way and developed what he called the Mars Bar. The candy bars were very similar, but both sourced their chocolate from local manufacturers creating some taste and quality difference. Both men’s companies continued to grow and release candy bars. When Franklin passed away, Forrest took over his dad’s business and eventually merged the two companies. So, one company made and sold similar bars with different ingredients in different locations. Whew. After all that, I need a Snickers, which Forrest developed in 1930—it was named after the Mars family’s favorite race horse.