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Everyone has a special place in their hearts for the candy they grew up loving, and the NYC Museum of Candy is looking to take visitors down a memory lane paved with their favourite sweets. The institution appeals to people's desire for nostalgia, and cultural experiences that are fun and social. We explore the science behind why people love to be reminded of the treats from their childhood.

The exhibits at the Museum of Candy, which will cost $15-25 to see, will nostalgically trace the history of the American candy industry from the industrial revolution until the 21st century. "The idea to create a Museum of Candy originated from the imagination of my inquisitive children and my own personal dreams about a magical candy land,” says Sugar Factory founder, Charissa Davidovici.

Set to launch in summer 2018, the 30,000 square foot space will display the journey of the candy industry from the 1900s to today. It will feature 15 different rooms of candy-centred experiences such as a giant gummy bear, Instagrammable ‘gumdrop’ rooms, old-fashioned candy tastings and make your own sweets stations. The space will also include a candy wall and a dessert market with more than 20 vendors and confectioners for guests to satisfy their sweet teeth, as well as a branch of the Sugar Factory restaurant.

Remembering childhood treats can increase happiness Remembering childhood treats can increase happiness
Yelp Inc. (2015) ©

This comes at a time when people are demanding more from museums: 81% of museum-goers say they want cultural spaces where they can ‘have fun’, while 34% say their ideal cultural activity is social. People's changing attitudes has put pressure on existing museums to exhibit more flare, and cater to what people really want, with new museums specifically dedicated to these preferences popping up across America – such as the Museum of Ice Cream.

And nostalgia has proven to be a particularly powerful tactic – particularly popular among Gen Y. “Nostalgia can have a positive influence on mental and emotional well-being,” says Andrew Abeyta, a PhD candidate at North Dakota State University and author of ‘Looking back to move forward: nostalgia as a psychological resource for promoting relationship goals and overcoming relationship challenges’. “Reflecting on life experiences that make you feel nostalgic leads to increased happiness and self-esteem, feelings of connectedness to others, and a greater sense of meaning in life.” By combining nostalgic experiences with immersive, photogenic ones, the Museum of Candy seeks to appeal to a more social, less introspective demographic of museum-goers.

Rebecca Smith is a behavioral analyst at Canvas8, which specializes in behavioral insights and consumer research. She has worked with a number of global brands to help them better understand the mindsets of their audiences, from what people want from fake tan to how they feel about technology. Outside of work, you’ll find her binge-watching anime or with her nose stuck in a fantasy novel.


28 Feb 18
3 min read

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