Representation matters. We know this to be true. The past few years have seen an unprecedented push to ensure that everything — from movies to books to TV shows to dolls — does a better job representing the diversity of the human race.
And now, let us turn our attention to candy.
I am talking specifically about M&Ms, which just launched a rebranding effort to make their cast of chocolate mascots “more representative of the dynamic and progressive world we live in.” The colorful candy morsels, which have been around since 1954, have now been given a mix of backstories and distinct personalities in the hope that everybody will be able to relate to at least one of these candy-coated icons. Yes, this is a real thing that has happened. Please bear with me.
According to Adweek, Red will be “less bossy,” Green will be “more confident” (and has traded her heeled, knee-high boots for casual sneakers), and Brown has “transitioned from high stilettos to lower block heels” (I’m not sure what kind of personality or backstory that is supposed to represent, but I am very supportive of more comfortable footwear). Green and Brown will also team up as a “force supporting women, together throwing shine and not shade,” which is a sentence that made me laugh a lot.
But I’m most intrigued, in the wake of this groundbreaking announcement, by the details surrounding our dear pal Orange, who in this new iteration will “acknowledge and embrace his anxiety.” This fact is supported by perhaps my new favorite image of all time: the orange M&M with his eyebrows raised, a quivering lip and hands clutched to his face in a panic.
orange will acknowledge his anxiety pic.twitter.com/hNmcRbrwtX
— Nathan Allebach (@nathanallebach) January 20, 2022
It all gives rise to an important question: Is the orange M&M Jewish?
Now look, I know Jews don’t have a monopoly on anxiety. All human beings suffer the possibility of anxiety disorders, which is the most common mental illness, affecting nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. The jury’s still out on whether Jews actually experience anxiety at a higher rate than non-Jews (according to this New York Times piece, the answer is no; we just do a good job of propagating the Neurotic Jews stereotype).
But still, I can’t help but feel that anxiety has become one of the defining characteristics of the Jewish experience for me, and for so many of my Jewish peers — whether that’s due to the intergenerational trauma we inherited from a not-so-wonderful history of persecution, to a recent rise in antisemitism or just to the luck of the draw. The Anxious Jew has been well-represented in pop culture, from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” to reality TV to superhero movies, even.
And so, when I see any character that’s defined by their anxiety, whether it’s on TV or in a bag of candy, I immediately suspect that this entity just might be Jewish. When I watch the accompanying video in the Adweek announcement that features Orange shifting his eyes right and left before nervously side-stepping out of the spotlight, I recognize a bit of myself in that fearful chocolate blob. And when I learn that he not only has anxiety but will be acknowledging and embracing it, I wonder if Orange is finally ready to join the long line of Jews who proudly attend a weekly therapy appointment.
Thus, without any evidence that he’s Jewish but without any evidence that he’s not Jewish, I am hereby declaring that the orange M&M is a beautiful, nervous, self-aware anxious Jew who may not melt in your hand but could quite possibly melt in the face of a stressful situation.
And that makes me feel seen. And represented. And hungry.