Food  |  News & Politics

Nestlé and Mars Are Both Based in our Area. How Do the Sugar-Fix Businesses Compare?

When Nestlé moved its US headquarters to Virginia last year, it became the second major sweet-treat company to operate out of our area, as Mars has been based here since the ’80s. How do the businesses compare?

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US headquarters Rosslyn McLean
Quick history Founded in the 19th century as a condensed-milk outfit, it now has 48,000 employees in the US alone. Ever since Frank Mars started making candy out of his Tacoma, Washington, kitchen in 1911, the company has been owned by the same family.
2018 global sales More than $90 billion. $35 billion.
Key treats Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Nesquik chocolate milk, Nestlé Toll House cookies. M&M’s, Skittles, Snickers, Twix, 3 Musketeers, Milky Way.
What else they make Gerber baby food, Perrier water, Lean Cuisine frozen dinners, Purina dog food, and lots of other stuff in your local supermarket. Pedigree dog food, Combos, Wrigley gum, Uncle Ben’s rice.
They own that? Nestlé has an entire skin-care division, including Proactiv acne products. In addition to pet food, Mars operates veterinary-hospital chains such as Banfield and BluePearl.
Unusual item we’d like to try Thomy mayonnaise with hemp oil, sold in Switzerland; recommended “for next-level enjoyment moments,” according to our web browser’s translator. Balisto bars, which are sold across Europe—a whole-grain candy with a name possibly derived from the German word for roughage.
Odd controversy Nestlé’s Poland Spring water is currently facing a class-action lawsuit claiming that its H2O is fraudulent because it doesn’t come from a spring. In 2007, Mars UK decided to start using an enzyme from calf stomachs in its candy. Vegetarians were furious, and the decision was quickly reversed.


This article appears in the October 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.