Forrest Mars, Sr. - Early Life and Career

Early Life and Career

Forrest was born in Wadena, Minnesota, and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada after his parents' divorce when he was just a child. He rarely saw his father. After high school he entered the University of California at Berkeley and later transferred to Yale University, where he completed a degree in industrial engineering in 1928.

As an adult, Forrest reunited with his father at Mars, Inc. However the pair ran into a disagreement when Forrest wanted to expand abroad while his father did not. Forrest then took a buyout from his father and moved to England where he created the Mars bar while estranged from his father in 1933. In Europe, Forrest briefly worked for Nestle and Tobler.

After he returned to the United States, Forrest started his own food business, Food Products Manufacturing, where he established the Uncle Ben's rice line and a gourmet food business, Pedigree. In partnership later with Bruce Murrie, Forrest developed M&M's, the chocolate candy covered in a crunchy shell which "melts in your mouth, not in your hands," in 1940. They were modeled after a candy that he had discovered while in Spain during the 1930s. It is believed that Forrest got the idea when he saw soldiers eating a similar candy during the Spanish Civil War. Murrie later left the business.

Following the death of his father, Forrest took over the family business, Mars, Inc, merging it with his own company in 1964. He was married to Audrey Ruth Meyer (b. May 25, 1910, in Chicago, d. June 15, 1989, in Washington, D.C.), and they had three children — Forrest Jr., John and Jacqueline.

Mars retired from Mars, Inc. in 1973, turning the company over to his children.

In 1981, retired and living in Henderson, Nevada, he founded Ethel M Chocolates, named after his mother. Ethel M was purchased by Mars, Inc. in 1988.

Mars died at age 95 in Miami, Florida, and had amassed a fortune of $4 billion. He was ranked as 30th in Forbes magazine's list of richest Americans (Forrest, Jr. and John were 29th and 31st, respectively). He left the business jointly to his three children.

Mars was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1984.

Read more about this topic:  Forrest Mars, Sr.

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