Origins of the Sprint Bar – Mars’ Original take on the Kit Kat!

CC_Mars Sprint TITLE PLATE WIP

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.

Rowntree - KitKat - Kit Kat - 10-cent candy bar wrapper - 1950's 1960's

Rowntree – KitKat – Kit Kat – 10-cent candy bar wrapper – 1950’s 1960’s

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:

Food Manufacturers Inc - Premium Chocolate Wafer Bar - 3/4 oz candy wrapper - 1950's

Food Manufacturers Inc – Premium Chocolate Wafer Bar – 3/4 oz candy wrapper – 1950’s

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.

Food Manufacturers Inc - M&M's Candies - M&M's Chocolate Wafer Bar - 11/16 oz candy bar wrapper - 1950's 1960's

Food Manufacturers Inc – M&M’s Candies – M&M’s Chocolate Wafer Bar – 11/16 oz candy bar wrapper – 1950’s 1960’s

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.]

Mars - M&M's Sprint - chocolate crisp - 8_10 oz chocolate candy bar wrapper - mid-1960's

Mars – M&M’s Sprint – chocolate crisp – 8/10 oz chocolate candy bar wrapper – mid-1960’s

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.

M&M's Sprint - 10-cent bar wrapper from candy magazine trade ad - 1969

M&M’s Sprint – 10-cent bar wrapper from candy magazine trade ad – 1969

Here’s another look at that one from a 1969 magazine ad.

M&M's Sprint Wafer Bar magazine ad - 1969 - Source unknown

M&M’s Sprint Wafer Bar magazine ad – 1969 – Source unknown

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.

Mars - Mars Sprint - chocolate wafer - 1_1 oz candy bar wrapper - 1970's

Mars – Mars Sprint – chocolate wafer – 1.1 oz candy bar wrapper – 1970-1971

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:

M&M Mars - Snik Snak Stiks [Kit Kat] - candy bar wrapper - 1973

M&M Mars – Snik Snak Stiks  – candy bar wrapper – 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!

CC_Mars Sprint CLOSING IMAGE

About Jason Liebig

A New York City based writer, editor and sometimes actor. After spending much of the 1990′s in the comic book business helping tell the stories of Marvel Comics’ X-Men as series editor, he has since split his time between developing his own entertainment properties while still consulting and working on others. Having been described as “the Indiana Jones of lost and forgotten candy”, Jason is one of the country’s premier candy collectors and historians with his discoveries appearing in countless blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and books. Always happy to share his knowledge and unique perspectives on this colorful part of our popular culture, Jason has consulted with New York’s Museum of Food and Drink and has also been a featured guest on Food Network’s Heavyweights, France’s M6 Capital, and New York’s TheActionRoom.com. My Google Profile+
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18 Responses to Origins of the Sprint Bar – Mars’ Original take on the Kit Kat!

  1. Darryl Heine says:

    Kudos to you on this M&M Sprint feature!

  2. Leigh says:

    I’ve been fantasizing about these bars for years, while friends and family insist I’ve been imagining them. I had an uncle who owned a candy distribution company, and he used to bring Sprint bars packed in huge candy-like boxes to his diabetic mother’s (exactly!), my grandmother. I used to cram them in my mouth whole by the dozen as a little girl. While I also love KitKats, if I remember correctly, I believe Sprint bars were less sweet and somewhat more chocolately, which is always to be desired. Great research!

  3. Dan Snyder says:

    Thank you for your research. I had been trying to recall what this candy bar was called for a long time. I used to purchase it from the vending machine in the YMCA after my swimming classes in Syracuse, N.Y. in the early 1960’s. To this day I am still disappointed when I have a Kit Kat as I much preferred the flavor of the sprint bars. Just a memory now.

  4. Don Gaskins says:

    I always ate this candy in the 60’s and remember the M&M green wrapper but lost track of its existence. I was just talking to someone about this last week. I thought it was the predecessor of Kit Kat but now know they were copetitors. Thanks for the research and clearing of the Mystery of that favorite green wrapper Mars chocolate waffer bar eaten as a kid.

  5. Bill Minor says:

    Thank You – like Leigh and the others, I’ve been trying to tell others especially family that before Kit Akats became so popular, that Mars had the same thing- in fact better in my opinion and I liked the wrapper (of the MARS BAR) Much better.
    Anyway thank you!
    Bill Minor

  6. art west says:

    always remembered the name and the candy bar. I was so disappointed when they stopped selling it. the sprint bar was better than kit kat.

  7. Jeanne M says:

    Thanks! I remember the mms wafer bar from the sixties and couldn’t find anything written about it. Kit Kat minis are still one of my favorites.

  8. Robert D says:

    Sung by a chorus of children:
    “Oh
    which candy bar
    gives you more, more, more,
    for what you pay your nickel for?
    It’s M&M’s great Wafer Bar!”

    M&M’s Great Wafer Bar: there is no substitute!
    Every time I consider purchasing a Kit Kat, I can’t
    help lamenting that there is no M&M Wafer Bar.
    They really did taste better.
    I am grateful for Kit Kat; they try.
    Thanks to the people who produced this website.

  9. Norman Weatherly says:

    I remember being terribly upset when I could no longer find Sprint bars! I liked them much better than Kit Kat!

  10. Deborah Brown says:

    Bring back the sprint bar.

  11. Barry B. says:

    I am 58 and I remember the tasty Sprint bars…Better chocolate and a crispier wafer than KitKats…I too wish they would come back!

  12. Bob B. says:

    I’ll add my voice to the rest. The Sprint Bar was my favorite candy bar when I was in elementary school, and I was so disappointed when it disappeared and the too-sweet Kit Kat Bar remained. I thought that no one else in my generation remembered it. I’m glad to have this proof that it really did exist.

    Now, what can you dig up on Burry’s Fudge Town cookies, and Hershey’s Butter Chip Miniatures?

  13. Jason,

    My friend Joe and I grew up in the Bronx in the 1960s. We remember going to the candy store and each contributing a nickel to share the $.10 Sprint candy bar. It was part of our stops on the way to the movies to see Sean Connery as Bond 007. We were sad when Sprint disappeared from that favorite candy store shelf. Not long after, Kit Kat appeared in its place. Even though we enjoyed this competing candy, we always have fond memories of sharing the longer two-stick pack. Thank you for the very detailed backstory. It’s been nice to reminisce.

    P.S. I attended Marvel Comics first convention in Manhattan in 1975. I was about 50 feet from Stan Lee: I waved and he waved back. Priceless.

  14. Tom A. says:

    It seems to me that the Sprint Bar wafers had a very very subtle peanut taste whereas Kit Kats did not. It was a long time ago, but does anyone else remember this? And does anyone else remember Cadbury Lime Bars?

  15. Rich says:

    I agree sprint bars are better than kit-kats. They were bigger and the chocolate tasted better. To simulate that experience i put kit-kats in the freezer, but they still dont have the taste of the sprint.
    Forget politics, we need to all get behind something really important.

    “Bring back the Sprint Bar” campaign

  16. Lee says:

    I am so glad others like me enjoyed and remembered the SPRINT bar. As a matter of fact in college (early 70’s) as a “still life” drawing, I drew a SPRINT bar wrapper crunched up and tossed away laying beside a trash can (missed). I called that series of illustrations “Litter”.
    Great article. Brought back memories of easier days. Thanks.

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