In 1992 Fortune magazine estimated the Mars family's personal worth at somewhere around $12.5 billion. This solid foundation of wealth, built on the country's undying passion for chocolate and other sweets, has made this clan the richest family in America—and the most reclusive. A family rule prohibits photographs to be taken of the Mars family and corporate executives. According to Fortune, a photographer who once tried to get a shot of Forrest Mars, Sr., found himself enveloped in a cloth that was thrown as he was about to snap the picture.
The empire started in 1902, when nineteen-year-old Franklin C. Mars began selling homemade candy. In 1910 he started a wholesale candy business in Tacoma, Washington. Ten years later Frank moved to Minneapolis, where he used the family kitchen to make buttercreams, which were personally delivered to retailers in the city by his wife, Ethel. Business grew steadily, and in 1940 Frank's son Forrest established M&M Limited in Newark, New Jersey.
By 1967 the family's confectionery business in the United States had been consolidated into M&M/Mars. The fortune grew steadily larger as the corporation routinely kept four brands in the top-ten-selling chocolates in the country: Milky Way, M&M's Plain and Peanut, and, in the number-one spot, Snickers.
This recipe is available in
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- Pinch salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 35 unwrapped Kraft caramels
- 1 cup (or two 3.5 ounce packages) dry-roasted salted peanuts
- Two 12-ounce bags milk chocolate chips
- Do This
1. With the mixer on high speed, combine 1 tablespoon water, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, peanut butter, and salt until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar.
2. When the mixture has the consistency of dough, remove it from the bowl with your hands and press it into a lightly greased 9x9-inch pan. Set in the refrigerator.
3. Melt the caramels in a small pan with 2 tablespoons water over low heat.
4. When the caramel mix is soft, mix in the peanuts. Pour the mixture over the refrigerated nougat in the pan. Let this cool in the refrigerator.
5. When the refrigerated mixture is firm, melt the chocolate over low heat in a double broiler or in a microwave oven set on high for 2 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking time.
6. When the mixture in the pan has hardened, cut it into 4x1-inch section.
7. Set each chunk onto a fork and dip it into the melted chocolate. Tap the fork against the side of the bowl or pan to knock off any excess chocolate. Then place the chunks on waxed paper to cool at room temperature (less than 70 degrees F). This could take several hours, but the bars will set best this way. You can speed up the process by placing the bars in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen bars.