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M&M Lovers Prefer Purple

The results are in: Purple reigns.

The maker of M&M's on Wednesday introduced purple as the new color to join the family of popular multicolored chocolate candies.

The decision came after more than 10 million M&M's aficionados in 200 countries voted on the Internet and over the phone on whether to add purple, pink or aqua to the mix.

"Our consumers have spoken. Purple it is," said Paul Michaels, president of Hackettstown-based Masterfoods USA.

Purple won 41 percent of the vote over aqua, which had 37 percent, and pink, which had 19 percent. Purple will join the existing mix of red, blue, brown, green, orange and yellow in August.

"I think purple is a very good color to add to the pack," said Barbara Amin, owner of Niru's Sweet Shop, a Jersey City candy store. "It will certainly blend in with the rest of the colors."

The interactive campaign to select a new color was part of Masterfoods USA's recent efforts to expand M&Ms beyond just being a convenience store food. In the last ten years, the maker of M&M's has developed a line of stuffed M&M's toys, T-shirts and pencils. The company has even opened an M&M's theme store in Las Vegas.

The newest color was to be unveiled Wednesday night in a star-studded New York City gala with performances by Ashanti and Wyclef Jean. The event was to be shown live on the Web.

The selection of the new color is the company's first global promotion in the brand's history, Michaels said. He did not say how much Masterfoods USA will spend to market the new color worldwide, but said the company will spend at least $10 million in the United States.

Purple will be available in all flavors of M&M's starting in August through the end of the year, when the company will decide whether to include it permanently. If consumers are really excited about purple the company will make it a permanent addition, Michaels said.

The company introduced the color blue in the same way in 1995.

M&M's original colors were red, yellow, green, brown, orange and violet when they were introduced in 1941. In 1949, the color tan replaced violet and blue replaced tan in 1995. This time, all the existing colors will remain, the company said.

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