If you’ve never heard of M&M honey, you may wonder how you missed out on this unusual-sounding food trend.
But this mysterious blue product has an unusual origin story that the Mars company would rather you not hear about.
You also won’t find this colorful honey on the shelves anywhere, for a good reason. So, what’s the scoop on this sweetener?
Let’s dig in!
What is M&M Honey?
In 2012, French beekeepers discovered their honeycombs had a blue and turquoise tint. They were more than a little surprised, and their investigation brought them about two and a half miles away to a biogas plant.
Mars, who owned the plant, was processing food waste from M&Ms. Some local newspapers reported that the company wasn’t correctly sealing their waste. Bees may travel as far as eight miles to find food to keep their hive fed.
The French beekeepers couldn’t sell their products and faced a substantial financial loss. The biogas company said they’d make changes to address the issue. Still, it’s one of many indicators that spell trouble for one of the biggest honey-producing countries in the world.
Problems with M&M Honey
In the last decade, the demand for the sticky loveliness has increased significantly, and producers will face huge losses if their hives can’t keep up. Because M&M honey is tainted with unhealthy chemicals, the product is unsellable.
Bees need a constant supply of nectar to produce honey. When drones forage things like factory waste, it’s because there aren’t enough flowers to get nectar from. Bee populations are plummeting due to this habitat destruction, as well as fungicides and pesticides.
This is bad news for honey production, but that’s not all. According to the Department of Agriculture, honey bees pollinate 80% of flowering plants. Without their help, many plants will see colossal population declines.
Is M&M Honey Unique?
While the blue batch of honey created from M&Ms is an isolated incident, this isn’t the only time a hive has produced an oddly tinted product.
When there isn’t enough nectar around, the drones will scavenge from human-made food sources. In 2011, a Brooklyn-based beekeeper discovered a red-tinted honeycomb in his apiary. The bees were feasting on maraschino cherry juice.
Since bees can’t read ingredient labels, they rely on their senses to find suitable food. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out for the best. Sometimes they’ll bring back toxic chemicals with a sweet taste, like antifreeze, which can wipe out the hive.
Is Blue Honey Edible?
If you’re asking about M&M honey, the short answer is probably not. Since the bees were eating waste, there was no way to know what was in it.
Even if it’s just food coloring, it’s still not a good idea. The dye found in M&Ms is suitable to eat in small amounts. But bees can create highly concentrated sugar to feed their hive. So, where one piece of candy may have a small amount of blue, the honey product will have much more.
However, you can find natural honey in a range of colors. Some bees from North Carolina even produce blue and purple varieties. But the chemical process that creates it remains a mystery. The leading theory is that drones feed on local berries when there are fewer flowers.
What Color Honey is Healthiest?
You can find a wide range of colors and flavors in unprocessed honey, even without M&Ms. That’s because bees in different regions feast on very different flowers. Each plant will have distinct natural sugars, minerals, and other compounds that affect the final product.
The food industry uses a color chart to grade honey so bakers can know which is best for their needs. It ranges from water white to dark amber. Lighter honey usually comes from spring flowers, while darker colors are more common in fall batches.
Dark honey generally contains more nutrients, but the difference is minor. The significant benefits of this sweet treat, particularly for allergies, come from local sources. These will often have a more complex flavor because they weren’t processed and mixed in a factory.
What are the Best Kinds of Honey in the World?
While honeybees are native to Europe, humans have brought them worldwide. Different regions produce very different tastes and textures. Hopefully, you won’t be sampling M&M honey any time soon. But there are plenty of safe and tasty varieties with a worldwide reputation to sample.
If you’ve got a little extra room in your budget, you can try the most expensive honey in the world. The sweet flavor comes from Sidr trees that grow in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It’s one of the oldest varieties in the world.
The high price point comes from the difficulty of producing it. The tree only flowers for 40 to 60 days a year, which limits the harvest. People have used it for medicinal reasons for over 7,000 years.
This rich, dark honey comes from New Zealand. It’s the product of local bees feeding on honeydew produced by aphids. This sweet delight has a dark malty taste with a hint of berry and caramel flavor. The high mineral content helps create a more complex flavor.
It gets a silky texture from the unusually complex sugars. Because of the difference in the honey’s structure, it doesn’t crystallize as quickly as other jars. Just don’t ask how the aphids make the honeydew.
This ancient Greek honey was the food of philosophers and kings. It comes from wild thyme flowers that grow near Mount Hymettus, where it got its name.
With a soft, runny texture, this honey doesn’t belong in the oven. Try it drizzled over fruit or spread on toast. It has naturally occurring dark flecks with savory notes of thyme. One taste shows you what a difference the type of flower makes.
Is M&M Honey the Next Big Thing?
While M&Ms may be a tasty treat to enjoy from time to time, we hope honey made from factory waste is trending down. Honey is a vital, healthy human resource and a byproduct of a necessary process.
If humans can’t take the necessary steps to save bees, enjoying our favorite produce will be much harder. If you want to keep enjoying local honey, you can support organic farmers and look for alternatives to bug sprays in your garden.
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