Crisis in Candyland

Jan Pottker, Author
Jan Pottker, Author National Press Books $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-882605-20-0
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Part tabloid fare, part pop history, this patchwork portrait of the giant Mars candy company--Milky Way, Snickers, Three Musketeers, M&Ms--and its fabulously wealthy, intensely secretive founding family takes a bite out of the firm's reputation by washing some dirty linen in public: ``Not even partitions separate the fifty-odd headquarters associates, who must keep their voices down when talking on the telephone to avoid complete babel.... Few desks have computers, for writing memos is against corporate policy.'' After interviewing former employees, family friends and competitors at Hershey, Nestle and so on, Pottker (Dear Ann and Dear Abby) tells how polio-stricken Midwest schoolboy Frank Mars, spellbound, watched his mother's candy-making magic, then failed at three businesses as an adult before launching the Milky Way candy bar in 1923 and an eventual worldwide food conglomerate. This business saga has a tyrannical crown prince who waited too long in the wings and died young, leaving his sons pitted against one another for company control; a profligate stepmother; a self-indulgent daughter; and a wealth of profit-making ideas, including the promotion of certain sweets as good for the teeth. He who snickers last... (Aug.)
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