- The Mars family has a net worth of nearly $90 billion and helms Mars Inc., the candy empire that brought you Snickers, Twix, and M&M’s.
- The six family members that rank on the Forbes 400 list have a reported fortune of $72 billion, making them America’s third-richest family "dynasty," according to a recent report.
- The Mars family is known for keeping to themselves, but in recent years, they’ve started to speak out.
The Mars family sits on top of a delicious empire.
They’re the heirs to the candy throne that is Mars Inc., maker of Snickers, Mars Bars, Milky Way Bars, Twix, M&M’s, and more — not to mention a portfolio of PetCare products, drinks, and gum, among others.
The 106-year-old company has helped the Mars family build a reported fortune of $89.7 billion, according to Bloomberg. The six family members who rank on the Forbes 400 list share $72 billion of that fortune, making them America’s third-richest family wealth "dynasty," according to the Institute for Policy Studies’ "Billionaire Bonanza" report.
Press-shy and limelight-avoidant, the Mars family remains a bit of a mystery. They’ve been known to keep the company "notoriously private," in the words of Business Insider’s Cadie Thompson. The headquarters have been called "anonymous" by Guardian reporter Andrew Clark.
However, Mars Inc. has more recently started trying to shed its secretive history. During the last few years, the Mars family and company executives have started to speak out.
Here’s what we know about the Mars family and Mars Inc.
The Mars family’s $89.7 billion fortune is rooted in its family-owned candy empire, Mars Inc. Founder Frank Mars learned to hand-dip chocolates at a young age; in 1911, he began selling candy from his kitchen in Tacoma, Washington.
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During the Depression, founder Frank and wife Ethel became "social luminaries."
They owned a $20,000 Deusenberg town car and had two getaway homes in Wisconsin and Tennessee.
They also opened their Tennessee getaway home, the Milky Way Farms Racing Stables, to the public for fundraisers and public events. Ethel’s horse won the Kentucky Derby in 1940, securing her "station in mint-julep society."
Mars’ son, Forrest Sr., joined the company in 1929.
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They made the first chocolate nougat, setting the foundation for Milky Way Bars and Snickers. Forrest Sr. fell out with his father; in 1932, he was given the recipe for the Milky Way Bar to start his own business.
Since then, the company has become known for the eponymous Mars Bar, 3 Musketeers, Twix, and M&Ms. More than 400 million M&Ms are produced in the US every day.
The company’s secrecy dates back to when Forrest Sr. patented the method for Uncle Ben’s rice and American military chiefs tried to overturn the patent to supply troops.
Forrest Sr. reportedly avoided photographers and interviews alike.
Unlike his parents, Forrest Sr. was relatively frugal. He raised his children the same way — while they attended exclusive boarding schools, they did chores at home to earn an allowance.
However, he did buy a 740-acre farm in Virginia in the 1940s. He and his wife, Audrey, lived apart for a lot of their marriage — she kept a penthouse apartment at The Watergate.
Forrest Sr. has been described as having an "extreme temper," but was separately praised as "one of this century’s most brilliant and successful entrepreneurs" by Fortune magazine in 1984.
"He was an iconic leader – dedicated and highly respected," a Mars spokesperson told Business Insider.
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