The Great American Chocolate Store

Hershey’s Chocolate World in Times Square is an innovative, multisensory experience
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Posted May 4, 2018

The Hershey Bar is one of the most familiar references in American culture. Times Square in New York is another.

Blending them together – a task not unlike getting chocolate in your peanut butter – was the objective of The Hershey Co. (Hershey, Pa.) and the design firm charged with perfecting the recipe, FRCH Design Worldwide (Cincinnati).

The store, located on Seventh Avenue at 47th Street in Manhattan, was the brand’s second venture into Times Square retailing. Relocating to a new building on the corner created an opportunity for what Monica Gerhardt, FRCH’s VP, Specialty Retail Design, calls “Hershey’s Chocolate World takes on the Big Apple.”

“The larger space allowed us to bring the brand positioning to life, infused with a regional play,” she says. “The concept is, ‘What does it mean for Hershey’s to remove itself from Pennsylvania and approach New York?’”

Throughout the L-shaped, 7800-square-foot store are elements tying the chocolate brand to the city. One major reference point is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that marches down Sixth Avenue. Balloon-like Hershey’s Kisses hang from the ceiling; Twizzlers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey Bars hang from a large ring-shaped ceiling fixture at the center of the store. Emblazoned around the ring are the words, “Sweetest Place on Earth.”

“We asked, ‘How can we Hershey-ize the New York experience?’” says Gerhardt. “So we brought ‘largest’ to life through the lens of the parade.”

Much of Manhattan was reinterpreted: A camper vehicle dispensing fresh-made s’mores references the food trucks that frequent New York streets; this truck sits under a painted tree canopy meant to suggest Central Park.

In the Jolly Ranchers fill-your-own-bucket experience, an animated backdrop of New York’s famous skyline comes to life – buildings light up, cars move, Volkswagen Beetles have Hershey’s products strapped to them, a New Year’s Eve Kiss drops from a building and subway trains move across the bridge.

“The iconic Hershey Kiss, cup and pip shapes were integrated into everything from lighting to signage to even tile accents in the floor.” says Mike Ruehlman, FRCH’s Director of Graphic Design.

There’s also a fully functional Hershey’s Kitchens in the store, featuring baking and cooking products and recipes and offering a limited menu of sweet treats and drinks. The menu was created in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America.

“Our intent was to provide an immersive, interactive experience with the Hershey brand and each of the individual products,” says Jose Padron, Lead Global Retail Design at Hershey. “We didn’t want to simply offer merchandise over the counter that you can get at Walgreens. What’s the point of that?”

The smell of chocolate permeates the air as shoppers happily munch away on their orders, making it clear that New York s Hershey’s.

PROJECT SUPPLIERS

Retailer
The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa.

Design
FRCH Design Worldwide, Cincinnati: Paul Lechleiter, CCO; Monica Gerhardt, SVP, Principal; Hortensia Gonzalez, Sr. Designer/Project Manager; Kendall Sebald, Designer; Mike Ruehlman, Director of Design (graphics); Lori Kolthoff, VP (material resource); Catherine Murray, Interior Designer (material resource); Jaipal Singh, Sr. Design Architect; Philip Borkowski, Project Coordinator
The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa.: Ron Burrage, Senior Director Global Design; Jose Padron, Leader Global Retail Design

Ceilings
Artists With Machines, Columbus, Ohio

Fixtures
Fleetwood, Leesport, Pa.

Flooring
Ceramics Technics Ltd., Alpharetta, Ga.

Lighting
37 Volts, Cincinnati

Signage/Graphics
Image One Industries, Bensalem, Pa. 

In-Store Technology
Scala, Malvern, Pa.

MEP Consultant
KLH Engineers, Fort Thomas, Ky. 

Structural Consultant
Britt Peters and Associates, Greenville, S.C.

Architect
FRCH Design Worldwide, Cincinnati

General Contractor
Schimenti Construction, Ridgefield, Conn. 

Photography: A-Frame Photography, New York