Baseball, apple pie, and M&M’s. It just doesn’t get more American than that even if you wrap it up in the Stars and Stripes flag made in China. Back in 1985, 2/3 of these elements came together to give us this classic commercial…
Anyone out there who played Little League baseball in the mid 80’s remembers this commercial, and were frantically searching for green M&M’s prior to each at bat. Heck, I wish I had a handful of any color M&M’s when I batted a robust .000 in 1987 (but, for the sabermetricians out there, I did have a nearly .500 on base percentage!). There was something in the dye used to color each M&M that ensured certain types of base hits. Specifically….
There were no red M&M’s in the 80’s since it was well known at the time that red dye was a carcinogen, so we have to assume what the red candies would have given the eager Little Leaguer who ingested one before a critical plate appearance…
While we kids ate this routine up when we got together for games full of aluminum bats and insane, screaming parents, little did we know these magic candies were in fact the very first performance enhancing drugs in baseball. Just what in the hell kind of example was M&M’s supposed to be setting for us kids anyway? Don’t worry about working hard and practicing every day… just pop a few of these little chocolates before every game, and you’ll be a star slugger!
Just a couple years after this commercial aired, a couple of overgrown little league players in Oakland brought real-life M&M’s into the game of baseball in the form of steroids.
Is it a coincidence that in the original commercial, the PED pusher’s team is wearing green and gold uniforms, just like the Oakland A’s wear? You think the Hershey company didn’t know where their idea of turning stick figure ballplayers into instant power hitters was going? Did they foresee the damage it would do to the National Pastime, and the stain it would leave on every player who played during the next two decades? Did they really care since the commercial succeeded in selling a hell of a lot of M&M’s at Little League games for the latter half of the 1980’s? Of course not.
So thank you, M&M’s, for turning baseball players into backne warriors and our cherished sport into a softball beer league. You raised our batting averages more than the refusal to award errors in Little League, while at the same time letting us know it was perfectly OK to sit on our fat asses and eat certain colored M&M’s to get better. How in the hell all of us 80’s peewee sluggers didn’t end up in the Major Leagues is a mystery, but all of the shame and disgrace to come was worth it so we could bask in the glory of the eighth wonder of the world…. Barry Bonds’ incredible exploding head.