Skip to Content

What is the Difference Between a Mars Bar and Milky Way Bar?

When wandering the candy aisle, one might notice the Mars Bar and Milky Way sitting comfortably next to each other, often sparking the question of what sets them apart. At first glance, they may seem similar with their rich coatings of milk chocolate and nougat centers. However, upon closer inspection, one will discover that each possesses distinct characteristics that differentiate them from each other, from the texture and layering of nougat to the regional variations in name and ingredients.

The US version of the Milky Way bar consists of light and fluffy nougat topped with caramel and encapsulated in a chocolate shell, differing slightly from the denser, chewier nougat of the Mars Bar, which also includes a caramel layer. Additionally, while the Milky Way’s caramel is merged into its nougat, the Mars Bar’s nougat and caramel layers are distinct. This subtle rearrangement of ingredients contributes to each bar’s unique taste and texture profiles.

Consumers should also be mindful of the regional name differences: a candy bar known as the Milky Way in the United States is similar to the Mars Bar found in other regions, and vice versa. Packaging and chocolate coating hardness are other variables that may swing one’s preference between these two confectionery favorites. With such nuances in composition and naming, the Mars Bar and Milky Way offer distinctive experiences to chocolate lovers around the world.

Overview of Mars Bar

The Mars Bar is a popular chocolate treat known for its unique combination of ingredients. It is distinguished by its moreish flavor profile and satisfying texture.


  • Nougat: Soft and chewy
  • Caramel: A sweet layer topping the nougat
  • Milk Chocolate: Coats the bar entirely

Flavor Profile

The Mars Bar offers a rich and indulgent taste. The sweetness of caramel and the chocolate coating complement the nougat’s mellow flavor.

Texture Characteristics

  • Nougat: Dense and chewy
  • Caramel: Adds a sticky contrast
  • Chocolate Coating: Provides a smooth and creamy finish

Nutritional Information

Nutrient Quantity
Total Fat Approx. 8.6g
Saturated Fat Approx. 4.2g

Note: The nutritional content can vary by region and recipe changes over time.

Overview of Milky Way Bar

The Milky Way bar is a favorite among those who enjoy a creamy and light chocolate treat. It differentiates itself from other candy bars with its unique combination of ingredients and a fluffy nougat center.

Ingredients Comparison

The Milky Way bar consists primarily of milk chocolate, nougat, and caramel. These are the foundational components that make up its signature taste. The ingredient list is straightforward, with nougat making the largest proportion, followed by a sweet layer of caramel, and finally, the whole bar is enrobed in milk chocolate.

Flavor Distinctions

In terms of flavor, the Milky Way bar offers a milder profile compared to others. It strikes a delicate balance between the sweet flavors of chocolate and caramel without overpowering the palate. This milder taste profile is often preferred by those who seek a less intense chocolate experience.

Texture Differences

Texture is a defining characteristic of the Milky Way bar. The centerpiece is a fluffy, whipped nougat, providing a light and airy mouthfeel. It contrasts pleasantly with the smooth caramel and creamy chocolate coating, resulting in a bar that is soft and easy to bite into.

Nutritional Content

In terms of nutrition, a standard-sized (52.2g) Milky Way bar contains approximately 240 calories with about 9 grams of fat. It also provides a modest amount of protein, generally around 2 grams per bar, sourced from the milk ingredients used in its creation.

Historical Context

The Mars Bar and Milky Way Bar are iconic confections with distinct backgrounds. Their unique tastes are rooted in a rich history that exemplifies the innovation of candy-making in the early 20th century.

Origin of Mars Bar

The Mars Bar was introduced in 1932 by Forrest Mars, son of Frank C. Mars, the founder of Mars, Incorporated. It was named after the family and offered a new combination of caramel and nougat coated in milk chocolate which quickly became popular for its sweet and chewy texture.

Evolution of the Milky Way Bar

Alternately, the Milky Way bar, introduced slightly earlier in 1923 in the United States by Mars, Incorporated, was more than just a candy; it was fashioned to mimic a malted milkshake, a popular drink at the time. Over the years, its recipe has been adapted to suit varying tastes, but it still maintains the classic chocolate-covered nougat that consumers have enjoyed for almost a century.

Marketing and Branding

In the confectionery market, the success of a candy bar is often as much about branding as it is about taste. Mars Bar and Milky Way have distinct marketing strategies that reflect their unique positioning and appeal to consumers.

Positioning of Mars Bar

The Mars Bar is positioned as a hearty, indulgent snack. It’s marketed to those seeking a satisfying burst of energy, often signaling a more masculine and rugged brand image. This chocolate bar’s promotions emphasize its denser texture and richer caramel content, suggesting a more filling snack option.

Advertising Strategies for Milky Way

Milky Way, on the other hand, is typically promoted as a lighter way to enjoy chocolate. The brand’s advertising often features themes of fantasy and escapism, capitalizing on the celestial imagery of its name. They aim at creating a sense of whimsy and delight, portraying the Milky Way bar as the perfect treat to brighten one’s day.

Consumer Perception

When discussing Mars Bars and Milky Way, consumer perception varies with regard to their popularity and cultural resonance. Each bar has fostered its own set of loyalists and a distinct identity, influenced by both taste and marketing.

Popularity Trends

Mars Bars and Milky Way bars have often competed for space in consumers’ hearts and confectionery aisles. Popularity trends can shift based on regional preferences and marketing campaigns. For instance, in some regions, Mars Bars are perennial favorites because of their slightly heavier and indulgent profile. In contrast, the Milky Way, known for its lighter nougat and less pronounced caramel layer, might resonate more with those preferring a less dense sweet treat.

Cultural Impact

The cultural impact of these candy bars is quite telling. Mars Bars have often been associated with energy and robustness, carving a niche among consumers who appreciate a heartier snack. Meanwhile, Milky Way bars, with their smoother and creamier texture, evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of the milkshakes they were originally intended to mimic. They both represent more than just taste differences; they hold a place in consumers’ life stories and societal moments.

Availability and Distribution

Mars Bars and Milky Way Bars are both widely distributed chocolate candies. They are readily available in many countries, though their presence may vary by region. In the United States, consumers can find the Milky Way Bar, which consists of nougat and caramel covered in milk chocolate, in nearly every grocery store, convenience shop, and vending machine.

Mars Bars, on the other hand, often require a bit more searching in the U.S. because the American version of the Mars Bar is not as widely distributed as the Milky Way. However, the Mars Bar, similar to the U.K. version in terms of having caramel and nougat, can typically be found in specialty candy stores or through online retailers.

The distribution of these chocolate bars is not just about geography; it’s also about consumer preference. Chocolate lovers internationally may notice different varieties of these treats:

  • United States:
    • Milky Way: widely available
    • Mars Bar: limited availability
  • United Kingdom and Elsewhere:
    • Mars Bar: equivalent to the U.S. Milky Way, widely available
    • Milky Way: different recipe, more similar to the U.S. 3 Musketeers, widely available

In these markets, where the brands offer diverse product lines, the availability can reflect the local taste and demand for these chocolates.