Meet The Mars Family: America’s Third-Wealthiest Family Dynasty

The Mars family has a combined net worth of $94 billion which makes them one of the wealthiest families in the United States. The family owns the confectionery company Mars Inc., which bears their last name. The company is considered to be the largest producer of confectionery in the world. The annual turnover of the company is estimated to be around $27.5 billion.

The leading confectionery company, Mars Inc, includes the brands M&Ms, Snickers, and Milky Way bar. The company is not only the leading producer of confectionery; they are also a successful manufacturer of pet food such as Whiskas and Pedigree. Though the family has somewhat maintained a very private life, the siblings of the family are known to the public, namely Jacqueline Mars, 71, John, 74, and Forrest, 79. They have kept it low-key in managing their business; however, in 2008, they made headlines when they made a joint purchase of the chewing gum company, Wrigley, for $23 billion with Warren Buffet.

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How It All Started

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Mars Inc. was founded in 1911 which is about 111 years ago by Franklin Mars. Mars had learned how to hand dip chocolate candies from his own mother when he was still young. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With his knowledge of chocolates and sweets, he decided to open Mars Candy Factory with his second wife Ethel in 1911, which was located in Tacoma, Washington. The couple made and sold some fresh candies wholesale, but they were hampered by much more established chocolate companies, which were also doing the same thing. Eventually, after admitting defeat but he still wanted to try, so they moved back to Minneapolis and decided to re-establish Mars Candy Factory.

They found success in their second attempt of selling fresh candies. After twelve years of doing business in Mars Candy Factory, Mars’ son with first wife Veronica named Forrest suggested an innovation to their current product. Forrest suggested that they incorporate the popular milkshake at the time into a candy bar to create a new flavor. Frank liked the idea, and that’s when the Milky Way bar was born. The bar was advertised as the chocolate malted milk in a candy bar, and it became a hit. Soon after its release, it became their best-selling candy on the market. Soon after, Snickers were released in 1930, and 3 Musketeers were released in 1932.

Passing Down The Family Legacy

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Just after over two decades of running the business, Frank Mars died at the age of 50 from a heart attack in 1934. He passed down the company to his oldest son, Forrest Mars. Frank entrusted Forrest with the business, knowing he would take good care of it, and he has raised him to be a responsible person. With the same mindset as his father, Forrest also raised his children, Forrest Jr., John, and Jacqueline, to be both private and frugal. He taught him to never trust anyone, especially outsiders of the company or even the press.

Forrest Sr. continued running the business since receiving it and even until his senior years. During that time, the two brothers were already eager to take over the company as they felt ready to take charge. In the 1990s, it was reported that John finally had enough and lost his temper, asking his father how long he had to work for his dad. At the time, John was already 60, and eventually, Forrest Mars retired. He then died at the age of 95 in 1999, and Forrest Jr. took over the company. Both John and Jacqueline run the Mars Foundation, which donates to charities with causes around health, culture, environment, and education.

Criticisms Amidst Success

The Mars family has run their family business successfully. Though they are one of the biggest chocolate companies in the world, their company has had its fair share of criticisms and controversies. In 2007, a lot of their products that were made in the UK became unsuitable for vegetarians. During that time, the company has announced that they will be using whey which is made from animal rennet, material from the stomach lining of the calf. These changes will be implemented in the production of Twix, Snickers, Bounty, Mars, Maltesers, Minstrels, and Milky Way. They had a massive backlash from different organizations, including the Vegetarian Society, which later requested the UK vegetarians to register their appeal to Mars. Because of the backlash from the consumers, they decided to abandon their plans and switched to all vegetarian raw materials in the UK.

The biggest controversy they have faced was in September 2017 when NGO Mighty Earth had conducted an investigation regarding the large amount of cocoa that was used in the chocolates that were produced by Mars. The results of the investigation show that several national parks were illegally converted into cocoa. With this controversy, the company decided to change its cocoa source to help prevent deforestation.

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Sources: Business Insider, Mars, Celebrity Net Worth

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