Early last year, I unearthed the story of M&M/Mars 1970’s take on their competitor’s Kit Kat – a chocolate wafer bar dubbed the Snik Snak. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that Mars’ history with a Kit Kat-like chocolate wafer product dated back to at least a couple of decades earlier and that this story had a few more forgotten twists and turns to it. So make the jump to discover the previously-unseen origins of Mars’ Sprint Bar!
Our story begins way back in the 1950’s (I’m reasonably certain that’s where it begins – but it could go earlier) when Mars was being called Food Manufacturers Incorporated. That’s when they released their “Premium Chocolate Wafer Bar”. Chances are, the Premium bar was designed to compete directly with Rowntree’s Kit Kat.
At this point in its history, the Kit Kat bar was made in England but it had begun to be imported and sold in the United States.
Here’s Food Manufacturers Inc.’s Premium Chocolate Wafer Bar wrapper:
Sometime after this, the Premium Chocolate Wafer Bar was re-christened as the M&M’s Chocolate Wafer Bar, and the parent company now listed as “M&M’s Candies, a division Of Food Manufacturers Inc.”
Aside from those differences, the wrapper design remained largely the same.
The M&M’s Chocolate Wafer Bar probably lasted into the early 1960’s, but around 1964-65, Mars gave the bar a refresh and a rename – now calling it the M&M’s Sprint bar. Besides the main name change, the description of the bar changed from “chocolate wafer” to “chocolate crisp”. This wrapper also now listed its manufacturer as the more familiar “M&M/Mars – Division of Mars Incorporated.” [Note: In spite of the change from wafer to crisp, it appears the actual product remained the same.]
You can catch a glimpse of the M&M’s logo-embossed Sprint wafer bars in the following 1967 television spot, uploaded to YouTube by one of CollectingCandy.com’s friends, Darryl Heine.
By 1969, M&M’s Sprint went back to referring to itself as a chocolate wafer bar. I don’t have an example of the 1969 wrapper in my collection, but I do have an image of one from an M&M/Mars trade ad.
Here’s another look at that one from a 1969 magazine ad.
That 1969 Sprint logo style would remain intact when, in 1970-71, the M&M’s corner banner would be dropped from the wrapper design and replaced with the Mars name.
The Mars Sprint was probably the last version of Sprint to be found on store shelves, because in 1973 Mars would launch a direct attack on Kit Kat with their Snik Snak offering. For more of the story on Mars’ Snik Snak, check out my article from May of last year on the subject, but for now here’s a look at an inaugural Snik Snak wrapper from 1973:While the life of Mars’ Snik Snak was short-lived, I’m excited to have finally uncovered and pieced together its earlier ancestral origins.
And that’s everything I’ve got to share on the Mars Sprint bar. Hope you’ve enjoyed the look back at it. I’ll see you next time!