Presidential M&M's is the name given to the commemorative packs of red, white, and blue-colored M&M's given to guests of the President of the United States on board Air Force One and in other Presidential locations. They were first created in 1988 and were later to replace cigarettes as the free gift given to guests of the President. The M&M's are presented in boxes about the size of a packet of cigarettes, with the Seal of the President of the United States and the signature of the sitting President on one face, and one of the M&M's characters holding the flag of the United States on the other.
Under President John F. Kennedy, large quantities of cigarettes were supplied to the White House and Air Force One. President Ronald Reagan, as part of his anti-drug campaigns, replaced most of the cigarettes with jars of Jelly Belly jelly beans. In 1988, President Reagan wrote to Mars, Incorporated asking for a supply of customized M&M's for the Moscow Summit with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. The First Lady, Nancy Reagan gave them out to Russian children during the summit. After that, M&M's became the official candy of the White House.
President George H. W. Bush continued Reagan's tradition of handing out M&M's to Presidential guests but extended the privilege to presidential employees. President Bill Clinton altered the packaging to include the signature of the sitting president beneath the Presidential seal. President Barack Obama was mixed on the subject of M&M's. On one occasion upon receiving a bag of trail mix mixed with M&M's, he proceeded to pick out every M&M and declare to his personal aide: "I'm not going to eat these", but he chose to continue the tradition and personally handed out packs of Presidential M&M's to guests. Obama also gave them out to children trick or treating at the White House on Halloween, along with dried fruits from First Lady Michelle Obama.
In 2014, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy offered President Obama facsimiles of three historical works several hundred years old. In turn, Obama gifted him some presidential M&M's. The perceived inequality of the exchange provoked criticism from the Spanish press.
Air Force One
Starting under President Kennedy, guests and members of the press who traveled on Air Force One were given packs of 20 cigarettes in a box marked with the Presidential Seal and the signature of the sitting President, along with a matchbook; it became a tradition that all guests on Air Force One would receive a souvenir of their trip. In 1988, at the behest of Nancy Reagan, smoking was banned on Air Force One and M&Ms replaced cigarettes as the traditional gift for guests using presidential facilities. A spokesman for the White House stated that the change was made because of health concerns around cigarettes, and that candy was more suitable as a souvenir.
On President Donald Trump's first flight aboard Air Force One, unsigned boxes of M&M's were provided because the ones with Trump's signature were not yet available. In May 2017, Presidential M&M's with President Trump's signature were released.
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"A good thing about being president is we never run out of presidential M&Ms," Obama said, referencing the customized candy boxes handed out at the White House and aboard Air Force One bearing the president's signature. "And so we’re going to be giving those out." [Replying to an audience request for some candy] Obama was forced to dash her hopes. "You want some, is that what you said?" Obama asked as the crowd roared. "Only to kids,"...
- "Rajoy regala a Obama tres facsímiles de obras de hace 500 años… y Obama obsequia a Rajoy con una caja de M&M's". abc.es (in Spanish). January 14, 2014.
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