Franklin Clarence Mars

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Franklin Clarence Mars
Franklin Clarence Mars.jpg
Born(1883-09-24)September 24, 1883
DiedApril 8, 1935(1935-04-08) (aged 51)
Known forFounder of Mars, Inc.
Spouse(s)Ethel G. Kissack (m. 1902, div. 1910)
Ethel Veronica Healy (m. 1910)
Children2, including Forrest Mars

Franklin Clarence Mars (/ˈmɑːrz/; September 24, 1883 – April 8, 1935) was an American business magnate who founded the food company Mars, Incorporated, which mostly makes chocolate candy. Mars' son Forrest Edward Mars developed M&M's and the Mars bar.


Franklin Mars was born in September 1883 in Minnesota.[1] He learned how to hand-dip chocolate candy as a child from his mother Alva, who entertained him while he had a mild case of polio.[1] He began to sell molasses chips at age 19.[2]

Mars and Ethel G. Kissack (1882–1980),[3] a schoolteacher, were married in 1902 in Hennepin County, Minnesota.[1] Their son, Forrest Mars, Sr., was born in 1904 in Wadena, Minnesota.[1] They divorced.

Mars and Ethel Veronica Healy (1884–1945) were married in 1910 and had one daughter, Patricia Mars (1914–1965).[4]

Mars, Incorporated[edit]

He started the Mars Candy Factory in 1911 with Ethel V. Mars, his second wife, in Tacoma, Washington. This factory produced and sold fresh candy wholesale, but ultimately the venture failed because there was a better established business, Brown & Haley, also operating in Tacoma.[5]

In 1920, they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Mars founded Mar-O-Bar Co. and began to manufacture chocolate candy bars.[2] The company later incorporated as Mars, Incorporated.[2] In 1923 he introduced his son Forrest's idea,[6] the Milky Way, which became the best-selling candy bar.[2] Mars moved to Chicago in 1929[2] and settled in River Forest. He became an honorary captain of the Oak Park, Illinois police department.[2]

In 1930, Mars developed the Snickers Bar.[6]

Death and legacy[edit]

Mars died from heart and kidney issues on April 8, 1935[2] at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.[7] Ownership of the family business passed to his son Forrest.

Horse racing[edit]

Milky Way Farm Manor House, May 2014.

In the late 1920s, in Pulaski, Tennessee, Mars bought a number of local farms and constructed a large estate called Milky Way Farm. During its construction, Mars employed more than 935 men from Giles County to build a 25,000 square feet (2,300 m²) clubhouse, more than 30 barns, and a horse racing track.[8] Gallahadion won the Kentucky Derby in 1940 after Mars died.[2]

White stone mausoleum with iron doors and "Mars" engraved near the top
Mars private mausoleum in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis

Mars lived the remainder of his life on the 2,800 acre (11 km²) farm and was buried there upon his death in 1934.[8] After Milky Way Farm was sold,[8] the remains of Mars and his wife Ethel V. Mars were moved to a private mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, where they are currently interred.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "History". Mars, Incorporated. Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Franklin Mars". The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest. Archived from the original on October 10, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  3. ^ "Descendants of Gilbert Kissack". Retrieved February 25, 2011.
  4. ^ "Ethel V. Mars, Head of Candy Firm, Dies". Billboard. January 5, 1946. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
  5. ^ "Mars' chocolate history has surprising Tacoma backstory". thenewstribune. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  6. ^ a b El-Hai, Jack (March 2007). "Candy Bar Combat". Minnesota Monthly. Greenspring Media Group. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  7. ^ Downs, Winfield Scott, ed. (1934). Encyclopedia of American Biography, Volume 3. he American Historical Society, Incorporated. p. Page 371.
  8. ^ a b c "History @ Milky Way Farm". Milky Way Farm. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  9. ^ "Burial Search". Lakewood Cemetery. Retrieved 2015-10-29.