Eddie van Halen, the rock guitar legend for the eponymous band Van Halen, died a few days ago. I suspect that many readers already know the "no brown M&Ms" story, but it still seems worth memorializing here.
The story is that when the Van Halen rock band was touring, they required that the promoter or the venue at each location sign an extremely long and detailed contract, with many seemingly arbitrary demands. One item in the contract stated that among the backstage munchies to be provided would be a bowl of M&Ms, but the contract then added "(WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)."
The contract was quite clear that violation of any part was cause for the band to immediately cancel the concert, but still receive its full financial payment. I'm not aware of the band ever cancelling on these grounds, but there were stories that upon finding a brown M&M in the bowl, band members would go on a destructive rampage in the dressing room before being gradually talked down so that they were willing to perform.
Years later, the logic behind this particular contract provision was explained. Here's how the lead singer David Lee Roth told the story in his autobiography (according to Snopes.com):
Here's a 2012 video of Roth telling the "no brown M&Ms" story. For economists, of course, the story lives on as an example of contract theory at work. In some cases, it will be costly and time-consuming to check every aspect of a contract (a fact that applies in business and also personal settings). Rather than paying those costs of time and money, over and over, it may save time to choose one perhaps seemingly unimportant item that will be checked first. If that one part of the contract is breached, then overreact. Your reputation will lead future contractual partners to be more careful, and you will ultimately save time and energy.