Should you ever doubt Google's analytical prowess, just re-read this article. The Washington Post takes a look at Project M&M, which is exactly what you think it couldn't possibly be: the company's analysis of its employees' perceived over-consumption of the free candy, to the detriment of their health and happiness. Google's People Operations group (overseers of all things HR) dug in, collecting data on how close employees sit to the candy, reading up on academic papers related to food psychology, and conducting a test: M&Ms were moved into opaque containers, while dried fruit and nuts were stored in clear glass.
It apparently had an effect: Over seven weeks, the New York office's 2,000 employees ate 3.1 million fewer M&M-supplied calories. No word on a corresponding increase in fruit/nut calories, but the tech giant does, of course, know how many employees are likely glad it did the analysis: a survey showed 70% of its 40,000-strong workforce liked being privy to nutritional facts like these. More food facts for non-Googlers to salivate over: That NYC office features four cafeterias and 35 "microkitchens," in keeping with the rule that employees are no more than 200 feet away from free food at all times. The one number Google won't give up? How many people worked on the M&M project. Fun side note: The Wall Street Journal reports M&Ms became a Google staple thanks to the company's first employee, Craig Silverstein. (Read more Google stories.)