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Do Brown M&Ms Really Have Less Artificial Coloring?

Yellow, green, red, and brown M&M candies are scattered over a bag of M&Ms.

If you’ve ever watched The Wedding Planner, you probably remember the scene where Dr. Steve Edison, played by Matthew McConaughey, tells Mary Fiore, the titular wedding planner, played by Jennifer Lopez, that he only eats brown M&Ms because he assumes they have less artificial colors. So, is he right?

We’ve got some bad news for all of you who have been prioritizing brown M&Ms. They probably have the most artificial coloring.

In the film, the idea is posited by Dr. Steve because chocolate is brown and so a brown M&M has less artificial color, right? To find out if that memorable movie moment is true, Entertainment Weekly spoke with two nutritionists—Lisa DeFazio and Elissa Goodman. The pair explained that the logic is flawed and is, in fact, the direct opposite.

M&M'S Milk Chocolate Candy

Go ahead and eat all the colors you want.

Obviously, the brown M&M still has coloring, and Defazio said the base candy coating around the chocolate center of an M&M is white. This means unless your M&M is white, it’s still got coloring. Goodman, however, went further explaining that because the coating is white, the brown shade is most likely a mix of several colors (like red, yellow, and green) to get the correct hue. This means you’re probably getting a multitude of artificial colors.

Why the coloring avoidance, though? McConaughy’s character never says, but in the real world, some believe there’s a link between artificial coloring and behavior issues in children and others cite potential cancer risks due to studies done in animals. The Food and Drug Administration, however, regulates all food dyes and colorings, and the ones currently being used in the United States have been deemed safe by the agency.

Ultimately, if you’re looking to avoid artificial coloring, M&Ms are probably not the candy for you. However, if—unlike Dr. Steve—you’re fine with popping a handful into your mouth indiscriminately, why not find out how the candy got its name?

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Editor In Chief of LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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