Top 5 Rarest M&M Colors and the Story Behind It


Top-5-Rarest-M&M-Colors

Whether you’re munching on original, peanut, or peanut butter M&M candies, you can expect to see an assortment of familiar colors: blue, green, red, yellow, orange, and brown. But what’s the rarest M&M color, and why is it so hard to find?

The rarest M&M color is gray. This hard-to-find M&M (called the Gray Imposter) was part of the 1997 M&M’s Impostor Search Game, a sweepstakes that promised lucky finders a $1 million prize. The odds of finding this M&M were 274 million to one.

Although all M&Ms can satisfy your sweet tooth, some are far harder to come by than others. This ranking will reveal which of these hard-shelled candies are the rarest of them all.

Here Are the Top 5 Rarest M&M Colors:

  1. Gray
  2. Purple
  3. Brown
  4. Tan
  5. Custom Pastel-Colored Blue

5. Custom Pastel-Colored Blue

Limited-Edition-Lil-Nas-X-M&M-Pack

Even though M&Ms aren’t the world’s most expensive chocolates, they hold a special place in many people’s hearts due to their bright colors and milk-chocolatey goodness. But some M&Ms are about as elusive as unicorns, and the custom pastel-colored blue M&M is no exception.

Although the pastel-blue M&M isn’t discontinued like other M&M colors (we’re looking at you, tan and purple), it’s a limited-release color that’s only available in the 2022 Lil Nas X M&M Pack. This special limited-edition commemorative box of M&M candies also includes pink and purple M&Ms, each with a unique Lil-Nas-X-inspired design printed on them.

Why Is It So Rare?

The custom pastel-colored blue M&Ms are only available in the Limited Edition Lil Nas X M&M Pack. There’s no other way to get your hands on these baby-blue candies.

Consequently, these M&Ms are about to become exceedingly rarer, as they won’t stay in stock for much longer. If you’re eager to own one of the world’s rarest M&M colors, or you’re a fan of Lil Nas X, you’ll want to buy a box now before they’re gone forever.

4. Tan

Tan-M&M

Have you ever seen a tan-colored M&M? If you were born before the 1990s, chances are you have. After all, tan M&Ms were part of the standard color lineup from 1949 until 1995 (after which they were replaced by blue).

It’s unclear why M&M Mars decided to start producing tan-colored M&M candies, as their predecessor was the more eye-catching purple M&Ms. Besides, flesh-toned M&Ms are a little underwhelming, especially when compared to the cherry-red or lemon-yellow ones.

Still, M&M Mars seems to have really enjoyed making these beige-colored candies. Not only did tan replace purple in the late 1940s, but when Mars released peanut M&Ms in 1954, they only came in one color: tan.

But those love for khaki-colored M&Ms had waned to an all-time low by the mid-1990s, marking the end of the decades-long tan M&M escapade. To ensure that consumers would get a replacement color they enjoyed, Mars released a public poll asking which color should replace the beige bites.

As the results rolled in, there was a brief moment when it seemed that purple might finally have its comeback. But, alas, blue won and became the newest standard-lineup M&M color.

Although these discontinued M&Ms probably aren’t the tastiest, considering they’re quite old at this point, they could make the most expensive ice creams even pricier due to their rarity.

Why Is It So Rare?

As we’ve mentioned, tan M&Ms were discontinued in 1995. As such, it’s impossible to find a tan M&M candy in a modern bag of M&Ms.

The only way to experience these long-lived light-brown candies for yourself is to buy a bag of vintage M&Ms from a private seller. But because this bag would be almost 30 years old, we can’t recommend eating original tan M&Ms.

Of course, you could also order personalized light brown M&Ms from the official M&M website or buy them from a special M&M store (like the one found in Orlando’s Disney Springs shopping complex). But these candies wouldn’t be “true” tan M&Ms, which could be a dealbreaker if you’re looking for authenticity.

3. Brown

Brown-M&M

When you bite into an original M&M, you’re greeted with the sight of a brown disc of milk chocolate. In fact, the center of each colorful M&M (at least, the original kind) is a dark brown color. It’s also worth mentioning that brown is one of the three original M&M colors that’s remained consistent over the last century (alongside yellow and green).

So, why are brown M&Ms considered some of the rarest of the standard lineup?

As of 2017, the average percentage of M&Ms that are brown is only about 12%. So, for every 100 M&Ms you have, only about 12 of them are liable to be brown. But back in 1997, brown M&Ms were the most common color you’d find after opening your bag of candy!

What happened?

Urban legend maintains that Van Halen’s performance contract (which banned brown M&Ms from appearing in the dressing room) is to blame. But there’s been no official statement provided by M&M Mars to explain why brown M&M percentages have taken a drastic downturn since the mid-1990s.

Although brown M&Ms aren’t discontinued (unlike tan M&M candies), you’re unlikely to find a bag of M&Ms that primarily consists of brown candies. But, if you do, why not make a special event of it by enjoying them with a cool glass of the world’s most expensive milk?

Why Is It So Rare?

It’s challenging to understand exactly why brown M&Ms are rarer than their colorful counterparts. After all, brown isn’t discontinued like tan or purple, so they should be just as plentiful as the other colors, right?

Unless Mars, Incorporated makes an official statement regarding the comparatively low yield of brown-colored M&Ms, we may never know why they’re far less common than other M&M colors.

2. Purple

Purple-M&M

The iconic M&M characters (most notably Red and Yellow) have been around since the 1950s, with only a few changes and additions to the lineup since then. But in 2022, M&M Mars debuted a new character: Purple.

Well, technically, the purple M&M isn’t new. Before 1949, you could find purple M&Ms mixed in with red, yellow, brown, and green ones. But the purple candy was nixed and replaced with the aforementioned tan M&M.

Consequently, finding an intact purple M&M likely means that you’ve somehow gotten your hands on a vintage package of pre-1949 M&Ms. Either that or you’ve scored a limited-edition Japanese bag of M&Ms from 2002 (after the M&M’s Global Color Vote).

If it’s the latter, you’re just a little too late to claim a prize. That said, those fortunate few in Japan who managed to find an all-purple bag of M&Ms in 2002 could claim a ¥100 million (about $852,000) prize!

Why Is It So Rare?

For the better part of the last century, purple M&Ms have only been a distant memory. And while you can order a personalized batch of light purple and purple M&M candies online, the originals are far harder to come by.

That’s because the last purple M&Ms hit store shelves back in 2002 and were only available for a limited time. Before that, you could only find and enjoy this M&M color if you traveled back in time to 1948 or earlier; more than 70 years ago!

Because backward-traveling time machines aren’t yet a thing (that we know of), the purple M&M continues to be a beloved-but-defunct candy.

Still, if Purple (the M&M character) becomes as popular as her counterparts, purple M&Ms may make their way back into the mix. Of course, that’s just speculation.

1. Gray

The-Grey-imposter-M&M

When you think about a tasty M&M, you probably don’t imagine a gray candy. After all, M&Ms are known for their colorful hardshell exteriors, and gray isn’t exactly the most appetizing color.

But in 1997, quite a few people were eager to open a bag of M&Ms and find a gray candy.

That’s because M&M Mars debuted a promotional sweepstakes called the Imposter Search Game in 1997. This sweepstakes game involved a hard-to-find gray M&M without the iconic M logo (hence the gray candy was considered an “imposter”).

In the promotional commercials and advertising for the game, M&M fans were told that if they found the Gray Imposter, they’d win a $1 million prize. As you can imagine, Mars, Incorporated didn’t create tons of these gray candies, as the prize amount was staggeringly high.

Still, while the chances of finding one of these elusive M&Ms were quite low, Penni Wilson from Maryland found three of them in one day! However, Wilson didn’t win the $1 million sweepstakes prize. Nor did quite a few lucky people who found gray M&Ms during this 1997 promotion.

In fact, only two people managed to win the grand prize, which was paid out in $50,000 installments. One of the winners was Jason Rollman, a college student from New Hampshire. It’s unclear who the second winner was.

Why Is It So Rare?

Even though M&M Mars released potentially hundreds of grays M&M candies during the Imposter Search Game, only a few were packaged inside bags with winning game pieces. Consequently, the odds of finding a Gray Imposter M&M and a winning game piece were incredibly slim; we’re talking 274 million to one.

For perspective, the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 15,300, and the odds of dying in a plane crash are about 1 in 11 million. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that only two lucky M&M fans won the $1 million sweepstakes prize.

The Impostor Search Game: The Story of the Elusive Gray M&M

The Imposter Search Game sweepstakes is one of the most controversial promotions M&M Mars has ever undertaken.

The sweepstakes kicked off in 1997 and ended with two winners, each of whom were awarded $1 million. But there were more than just two gray M&Ms released during that year.

In fact, M&M Mars likely produced dozens of these drab-looking, missing-M candies. But those fortunate enough to find one didn’t automatically win the grand million-dollar prize.

That’s because the sweepstakes winners had to find a gray M&M mixed in with the standard-colored ones and a “winning game piece” statement on the inside of the bag.

However, because the M&M Imposter Search Game promotional media didn’t make this distinction clear, quite a few people who found gray M&Ms were infuriated upon learning that they hadn’t become overnight millionaires. In fact, in 1998, a Michigan couple decided to sue Mars, Incorporated for negligence.

Can You Order Personalized M&M Candies?

If you’d like to enjoy M&Ms that are your favorite color, you’ll be glad to know that you can order personalized M&M candies by visiting the M&Ms website and selecting the “Design Your Own” tab at the top of the page.

From there, you can select up to three M&M colors, ranging from pink to purple. And if you’d like to add a message to your candies, you can upload an image or text to add to your M&Ms. However, some colors aren’t compatible with text or designs (including purple, black, and brown).

Still, ordering personalized M&M candies is a convenient way to enjoy the rarest M&M colors. Personalized M&Ms could also be a sweet gift for those M&M lovers in your life!

Can You Still Find Gray M&Ms?

You have two options if you’d like to own the rarest M&M color. Firstly, you could acquire as many bags of promotion-related M&Ms (featuring the Impostor Search Game logo) by searching online auction sites like eBay.

Secondly, you could order custom M&M candies from the M&M Mars website. However, you should be aware that Mars technically doesn’t produce or sell gray M&Ms. Instead, these candies are labeled as “platinum.”

If you’re hungry for more information about the world’s rarest and most expensive foods, check out these related articles now!

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

Recent Posts