Atomic M&M

Duck and cover!  That was the catchphrase of the 1950s.  There were a lot of things happening during the 50’s although it is often looked at as the lull between the war torn 1940’s and the tumultuous 1960’s.

People and industry were revitalized with a new energy.  The Soviets had launched the space race with Sputnik.  And Castro had begun his revolution in Cuba.  Then there was atomic power.  And the Cold War was on.

Everyone had seen what had happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet this new power was so little understood.  Testing often included seeing how close we could stand to the source without being toasted.  Or from what distance the blast could level buildings.

And yet, “they” told us to “duck and cover”.  As if curling up against a brick wall, or under your school desk would protect you from the radiation or the fifty million degree heat.  We were terrified of this new power, and wanted to believe. 

In 1964 I went to the New York Worlds Fair where I received a dime, packed in a blue piece of plastic with the symbol of the atom.  The dime had been radiated by atomic power.  And I carried it in my pocket.  A novelty.  Killer waiting to strike.

And amidst all of this, the 50’s brought us early rock and roll, mid century modern design, suburbia and, ta-da, the M&M.  A new chocolate treat. 

I learned this the other night when I went to the University of Georgia for a special presentation by people associated with the Peabody awards.  They were talking about the 50’s.  I should remember more since I was born in the 50’s.  But I don’t.

With the creation of the M&M, if we were all going to go up in smoke with Atomic power, at least we’d go happy! Boom!  Now, duck…and cover!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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