Goo Goo Cluster Opens Wonka-esque New Shop in Downtown Nashville
Snickers. Twix. Three Musketeers. Baby Ruth. America's big name candy bars owe it all to the Goo Goo Cluster. The country's original combination candy bar, the Goo Goo Cluster was invented in 1912 by Standard Candy Company in Nashville, Tennessee. Until Goo Goo, candy bars consisted mostly of straightforward single-ingredient bars made from chocolate, taffy, or caramel. More than a hundred years later, the humble palm-sized mound made up of layers of caramel, marshmallow nougat, and peanuts wrapped in a milk chocolate topcoat is as entrenched in Music City lore as hot chicken and the Grand Ole Opry. Heck, even Dolly Parton's a fan. The country queen famously ordered boxes of Goo Goos for her castmates on the set of Rhinestone.
Today, the nostalgic family-run candy company's collection of sweets has expanded to include Pecan, Peanut Butter, and bite-sized Lil' Goos as well as a rotating selection of chef-curated Premium Goo Goos such as Nashville pastry chef Rebekah Turshen's Tennessee Waltz cake-inspired dark chocolate and peanut butter Goo Goo. You can even design your own. In 2017, Goo Goo launched its first build-your-own experience with a series of hands-on classes at their downtown Nashville storefront. "They were so successful we knew we wanted to expand our offerings and allow customers walking in off the street the option to have the same experience on-demand," says Laurie Spradley, VP of Operations and Brand Development at Goo Goo. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, they pivoted and moved the concept online, where it became a wildly unexpected hit with customers cooped up at home.
The success of the online program prompted a complete reimagining of their Lower Broadway storefront. "The new space is the direct answer to our customer's overwhelmingly positive response to our hands-on experiences," Spradley says. The company put $2 million into the Wonka-esque transformation, unveiling an expanded classroom space, a new full-service Chocolate Bar menu, including bonbons and boozy (and non-alcoholic) milkshakes inspired by Goo Goo's classic clusters, as well as a wall of digital Design Your Own Confection kiosks. The Design Your Own stations allow guests to choose from dozens of flavor combos. Want Cinnamon Toast Crunch in your Goo Goo? What about pretzels or potato chips? You got it. Customers can then watch as confectioners prepare and package their one-of-a-kind creations in a matter of minutes. Hang out and enjoy yours in the new café space or take your Goo Goo to go. Either way, Spradley hopes the new storefront, which opened Friday, November 5, makes adults and kids, locals and tourists feel like kids again.