Hershey, New York

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More than a Mecca for those who worship at the altar of sugar and milk solids, the new Times Square Hershey store is, as Brian Collins might say, the "mythic truths" about an all-American brand manifest in brick and neon and giant candy-shaped sheets of metal. Hershey had been working with ClearChannel Spectacolor with plans to occupy a store space in Times Square featuring three large billboards. When the candy company took the idea to BIG, the result became a 15-story tribute to Hershey's place in the pantheon of chocolate and American brands, a factory of candy that appears to have risen in thematic and historical layers along with the development of Times Square.

The store is modeled on an old, old-school chocolate factory - the mention of which may bring to mind visions of Willy Wonka and mechanical apparatuses and a bit of Dickensian bitter swirled into vats of sweet. But Collins wants the idea of chocolate factory to mean Hershey. "Hershey is the Disney of the confectionery category, and, like Disney, they have a mythic, classically American story," says Collins. "My thinking was that the Hershey story, the Hershey history, can be expressed in a contemporary way. It was a very important part of what the brand is. Rather than trying to turn the Hershey store into some fabricated, unownable candyland, we wanted to take part of their true legacy and bring it to life in New York." Collins and senior designer Ed Chiquitucto and the BIG team immersed itself in the history of Hershey and its real-life factory constructed in its Pennsylvania home in the early 1900s. They also researched the history of Times Square and its rich graphic (in the signage sense) heritage. The idea behind the store became: what if Milton Hershey had built a factory in Times Square in 1905 and what would it look like 100 or so years later? The result is a multi-tiered factory, complete with smoke stacks, which appears to have been originally constructed in another era and evolved through time. The building is festooned with such Hershey brand emblems as a giant Hershey bar and Jolly Rancher "wind sculptures." Inside is a wonderland of candy interaction including a huge Kiss-making machine which produces 7-ounce swirls topped with custom- printed plumes (the printed contents of which will flash outside on a scrolling ticker in Times Square). But wait, there's more. With Collins, there always is. If you can hear yourself over your own gluttonous mastication, you'll discern a familiar sound - the strains of "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut," the classic Almond Joy/Mounds jingle set to techno and disco beats, and you'll inhale the aromas of chocolate and strawberry, being circulated to round out the design experience. BIG worked with Mike McGraw of ClearChannel Spectacolor on design development and construction of signs. The store is set to open in December.

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