Was this added because the band members had something against brown M&Ms? Was it because the band wanted to cause extra work for the event staff? Nothing that fanciful. The M&Ms provision was included in Van Halen's contracts to provide a simple way of determining whether the technical specifications of the contract had been thoroughly read and complied with. If the band found brown M&Ms they knew the contract was not read thoroughly so other more important aspects of the contract, such as electrical capacity and stage load capacity, may have been missed as well.
When we receive a set of plans to review, the first thing we look for are numbering or lettering errors in the notes, paging errors, obvious spelling errors and mislabeled details/sections. We call these our “Brown M&Ms”; if the AE firm designing the project misses these simple details, questions are raised as to what more important items were missed during the “final review”. Even if none of these "Brown M&Ms" are not found, it does not reduce our level of review. They just provide a better picture of what to expect throughout the plans.
Now don’t get me wrong, no set of plans and specifications will ever be perfect. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not being honest with you (or themselves). It can be difficult for the team involved in the design process to catch all of the issues, even on a relatively simple project. It is even more difficult to catch all of the conflicts and inconsistencies on large projects where the owner makes many changes throughout the design process.
Peer and constructability review of plans and specifications are an important part of the design process. These produce better quality plans and specifications, reduce the risk to the owner and reduce the cost of the project.
A-Team Engineering performs constructability and peer reviews of construction plans and specifications. A small investment up front can save thousands of dollars in change orders.