A recent study
by the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York shows that a food dye may aid in recovery from spinal cord injuries.
Brilliant Blue G -- the dye used to create blue M&Ms -- might block the release of a chemical that kills healthy spinal cord cells in the first few hours after an injury. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule that acts as a fuel for cells, but in the moments following an injury, a rush of ATP cells are sent to the injury site, overwhelming and killing healthy nerve cells.
Scientists believe it's the body's attempt to deal with a traumatic injury that may lead to lasting effects like paralysis
. BBG's ability to block ATP from binding to neurons may aid in recovery time. In lab tests, BBG introduced intravenously seemed to help injured rats recover
faster and more fully. One of the apparent side effects is a blue tinge to the eyes and skin.
Blue M&Ms were added to the other colors in 1995 -- 54 years after the candy
was given to American soldiers during World War II. And the color of
M&Ms has always mattered to the public more than that of other candies.
Green M&Ms are commonly thought to be aphrodisiacs.
The company hasn't discouraged the idea; a
2001 ad campaign asked "What is it about the green ones?" and last year the company introduced an
all-green bag for Valentine's Day.
In 1976, red M&Ms were pulled from the market as
a result of the FDA banning Red Dye No. 2 and corporate officials
worried the public health scare would lead to a decline in sales. Red
M&Ms are actually colored with Red Dye Nos. 3 and 40 -- so there
was no actual risk. The color red was re-introduced in 1987 after the
public asked for its return.