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The Sweet Spot
Instead of expected icons like an oversized Hershey Kiss, Hershey Chocolate Co.'s booth offered a glimpse of things to come. Chairs that evoked science-fiction movies, white carpeting, and an 18-by-20-foot projection that allowed visitors to take a virtual tour of a high-tech convenience store suggested that Hershey's future will be as sweet as its past.
Eye Candy
By Charles Pappas with photos by Olga Proto
Client: Hershey Chocolate Co., Hershey, PA
Design/Fabrication: MC², Chestnut Ridge, NY
Size: 50-by-50 feet (2,500 square feet)
Estimated Cost: $750,000
Estimated Cost/Square Foot: $300
ershey Chocolate Co.'s marketing has often been as sweetly unconventional as its confections. The maker of iconic candies introduced a cookbook in the 1920s, for example, and later attached postcards to its chocolate bars depicting pastoral scenes of dairy farms that supplied the company with healthy ingredients.

Hershey maintained this tasty tradition of promoting its products in atypical ways at the 2012 National Association of Convenience Stores show. Working with Chestnut Ridge, NY-based MC², the company eschewed some of its standard exhibit elements — e.g., a gigantic Hershey sign, an enormous Hershey Kiss — for displaying its edible wares in a setting that in part suggested its version of a future convenience store.

The exterior of the 50-by-50-foot booth featured white wood and laminate walls that came together in curving corners resembling a space shuttle's nose cone. Inside the space, curved architectural shapes reminiscent of the set design from "2001: A Space Odyssey" surrounded visitors.

Guests walked on white carpeting, while 26 tensioned-fabric panels formed a luminous ceiling overhead. Measuring 4-by-4 feet and lit by LEDs, the panels cycled through a series of color combinations that matched the shades of Hershey products: orange-yellow for Peanut Butter Cups, blue-red for Payday candies, and red-white for Kit Kat bars.

Beneath the kaleidoscopic sky, visitors gravitated to an 18-by-20-foot projection screen set against a back wall. There they were greeted by a staffer with an Xbox game controller in hand, who guided guests through a virtual convenience store on the screen where they could view Hershey products. After the cybertour, attendees checked out nearby sections showcasing new products and novel packaging. Finally, they unwound on futuristic white chairs, nibbling everything from Kisses to Kit Kats. By placing products that hark back to the 19th century in a booth that was wholly in the 21st, Hershey showed visitors that its future was going to be sweet indeed.E

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