The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest

Franklin Mars

Frank Mars was born in Newport, Minn. in 1883 and at the age of 19, he began to sell candy for a living.  In 1910 he married Ethel V. Healy and also entered into the wholesale candy business in Tacoma, WA.  In 1920, he moved to Minneapolis and began his own Mar-O-Bar Co., manufacturing chocolate candy bars.  In 1923, he introduced to the public the Milky Way bar, which quickly became the largest selling candy bar on the market.  A few years later, he incorporated the company under the name of Mars, Inc. 

In 1929, he moved the business to Chicago and settled down in River Forest at 930 Ashland Ave.  Mr. Mars died of kidney and heart ailments at the age of 51 in 1934.  It was stated in his obituary that his “rise from an operator of a small candy plant selling $69,000 in 1923 to $26,700,000 in 1930, has marked him as a business genius.”

Not only was Mars a businessman, but he was also known to love horses and cattle and ran his own farm called Milky Way, in Tennessee.  He would not only breed his horses, but he would also race them.  Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see his most famous horse, Gallahadion, win the Kentucky Derby in 1940.  He was a member of various organizations and was honorary captain of the Oak Park police force.   

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