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|Frank C. Mars
inventor of the Milky Way, Snickers, and Three Musketeers candy bars
Franklin Clarence Mars was born in Hancock, Michigan, on September 24, 1883, but grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. He contracted polio at an early age, and walked with a cane the rest of his life.
Prevented by his illness from doing many of the things young children like to do, Frank spent much of his youth in the family kitchen with his mother, who taught him how to make a variety of candies. In 1902 he used what he had learned to start a confectionery, selling butter cream candies made in his own kitchen, mostly wholesale to local stores. He also got married that year, to Ethel Kissack, with whom he had one son, Forrest Edward. Both the confectionery and the marriage failed, however. In 1910 he married Ethel Veronica Healy, with whom he had one daughter, Patricia.
By 1911 the Mars family was living in Tacoma, Washington, and it was there that Frank established The Mars Candy Factory, Inc., which made and sold candy to 5 and 10 cent stores along the Pacific coast. Since there was no refrigeration, candy had to be made and delivered in the same day. In 1920 the company moved to a larger factory in Minneapolis, named the "Nougat House." Soon after the move, Mars Candy changed its name to Mar-O-Bar. The actual Mar-O-Bar candy bar proved to be too fragile to withstand transportation, however, and was never successful.
Mars finally began enjoying success in 1923, when he introduced a candy bar designed to taste like a chocolate malted milk. With the help of the new chocolate malted milk bar, which he dubbed Milky Way, annual sales increased from less than $100,000 to $793,000 and the company was able to hire a full-time sales staff. By 1929 the company had changed its name to Mars Inc. and in that year it moved to Chicago in order to take advantage of that city's railroad connections. The Snickers bar, named after a beloved horse owned by the Mars family, was introduced in 1930, and originally was made without chocolate coating. In 1932, Mars unveiled the Three Musketeers bar, originally a three-piece concoction of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, later reformulated as chocolate nougat coated with milk chocolate.
In 1929, Frank Mars was introduced to Giles County, Tennessee, by the Schueler Family, who owned a box company in Chicago that supplied Mars Inc. He began buying land in the area the following year, and by the time of his death he owned almost two thousand acres. He died of kidney failure in Baltimore, Maryland, April 8, 1934. Originally interred in a mausoleum on his Tennessee farm, his widow moved his remains to Lakewood Cemetery, in Minneapolis, in 1941.
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This page was last updated on April 29, 2017.