M&M's are colorful button-shaped candies produced by Mars, Incorporated. They are characterized by the letter "m" printed in lowercase on one side of them. In addition to the original which had a milk chocolate filling (the "plain" variety), the candies have also appeared in "peanut," "crispy," and other variations. M&M's were first sold in 1941, and have since come to have more than 400 million individual ones produced per day in the United States, and to be sold in as many as 100 countries. According to their longest-lasting slogan, "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand." Since the 1950s, the candies have been personified in television advertisements as characters with cartoon-like storytelling, who have appeared in various forms over the years; the current CGI versions were introduced in 1995.
The M&M's were introduced to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with their first float, called "M&M's Chocolate Candy Works," which featured a giant inflatable version of Blue standing over a candy factory, complete with colorful tubes, M&M's in mine carts and a magical candy maker at the front of the float. This falloon was retired after 1997.
A falloon called "M&M's Network" replaced it, appearing from 1998 to 2003. This falloon was recycled from the Looney Tunes floats that appeared from 1989-1991. The two falloons on the float were Red and Yellow, the two most famous M&M's characters. At the back of the float, a giant camera towered over the float. Walk-around versions of various other M&M's decorated this float as well.
In 2004, the float was replaced by a balloon that features the Red and Yellow M&M's in a hot air balloon which was called "Red & Yellow Brighten the Holidays"; this was retired after the 2006 parade.
In 2007, the M&M's hot air balloon was replaced by a float called "M&M's Chocolate Candies On Broadway." This float featured Red as King Arthur from Spamalot, Green as Elphaba from Wicked, Blue as the Phantom of the Opera, and Yellow and Orange as members of the company of singers from A Chorus Line. This float appeared until 2009. The figures from this float are still on display at Macy's Parade Studio to this day.
- In 2005, due to the high winds, the M&M's balloon went out of control and caught on a streetlight in Times Square and dropped parts of the light onto two sisters; when struck by the falling debris, they suffered minor injuries. As a result, new safety rules were implemented in 2006, the last year the M&M's balloon was used.
- M&M's Red & Yellow Brighten the Holidays (2004-2006)
- M&M's Chocolate Candy Works (1995-1997)
- M&M's Network (Falloon) (1998-2003)
- M&M's Chocolate Candies on Broadway (2007-2009)