Back in 1912, America’s first combination candy bar was invented. It all started at Standard Candy Company in downtown Nashville. The Goo Goo Cluster recipe was a joint undertaking by Mr. Howell Campbell, Sr., and Mr. Porter Moore, the original plant supervisor. Mr. Campbell blended chocolate in a copper kettle, the same way fine whiskey is blended, with high-quality ingredients. Their new concoction contained luscious caramel, creamy marshmallow nougat and fresh-roasted peanuts, covered with a thick coating of real milk chocolate.
America’s First Combination Candy Was Born
As Mr. Campbell was announcing his newborn son’s first words to his fellow passengers on the streetcar he rode to work, a teacher made the connection with his candy. She recommended that Mr. Campbell name his treat “Goo Goo” because it was so good, people would ask for it from birth. The name stuck and the candy quickly became a Nashville favorite, spreading across the country thanks to great advertising on shows like The Grand Ole Opry. Today, the Standard Candy Company in Nashville can produce 20,000 Goo Goo Clusters an hour including their Original, Supreme and Peanut Butter flavors!
Goo Goo Clusters are sold at many entertainment venues around Nashville including locally-based retailers like Cracker Barrel and Loveless Cafe. Goo Goo’s Director of Marketing Beth Sachan says, “We love to work with businesses and entities in the tourism industry to help spread the rich history of Goo Goo to all that visit Nashville. This year we have revived our ‘That Ball is Goo Goo Gone!’ promotion with the Nashville Sounds baseball team with the opening of the new First Tennessee ball park. For every home run that a Sounds player hits, fans will receive a voucher for a free Goo Goo Cluster from the Goo Goo Shop upon exiting the game.”
The Goo Goo Shop
Because Goo Goo received so many requests from people asking to tour their facility and see a Goo Goo being made, they decided to open a store in downtown Nashville. Since it’s not possible to tour their manufacturing plant due to food safety regulations, they still wanted to give fans the opportunity to have a true “Goo Goo experience”. This year marked the grand opening of their Goo Goo Shop in the popular SoBro area on 3rd Avenue South, directly across from the Johnny Cash Museum and nestled between the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and the Nashville Symphony. It has become a big hit with tourists and locals, including my kids (pictured here).
Beth explains, “In the current 2,000 square foot space, not only do we have a retail store selling all kinds of Goo Goo goodies, but we also have a timeline where folks can learn the history of Standard Candy and Goo Goo Cluster, complete with artifacts from our archives. For all of those curious to see the candy making operation, we’ve built a viewing kitchen where our chocolatiers are making our new line of Premium Goo Goos by hand daily.”
Television Goes Goo Goo
She goes on to say, “Most of our marketing efforts are put into finding unique ways to get the Goo Goo name in front of as many people as possible in ways that are memorable, and that means building relationships with media, as well as creating strategic partnerships. We’ve been very fortunate to land on some fantastic television shows in recent years, including ABC’s The Chew, the Cooking Channel’s Unwrapped 2.0 and The Walking Dead. Yes, Goo Goo Cluster made a cameo on the mid-season finale of TWD back in late November, and social media exploded!” Watch a short video on the history of the Goo Goo on CBS Sunday Morning. And it didn’t hurt when Keith Urban wore a “What a Cluster” Goo Goo t-shirt on American Idol.
Instagram has become a fun tool for visitors to share photos taken while at the Shop, and people from all over the world eating Goo Goos share their excitement using the hashtag #googoocluster.
The Goo Goo Bags
“Our custom retail bags from Nashville Wraps are easily recognizable throughout the streets of downtown Nashville, extending our brand through the store visitor and encouraging others to find out about our products,” says Beth. You can see their custom printed shopping bags at the top with Goo Goo Cluster’s Executive Vice President Lance Paine and Nashville’s Mayor Karl Dean. We are so proud that Nashville Wraps is the Goo Goo Shop’s first choice when sourcing retail bags and gift basket packaging supplies. Their staff says they sell many more Goo Goo when packed in 3’s in a clear cello bag tied with raffia ribbon than they do with the individual ones in barrels. Also, using the frosted wave top bags allows people to see through the bags when customers walk through the streets of Nashville.
What’s Not to Love About Nashville?
When you ask Beth about her love for Nashville, she says, “What is there NOT to love about Nashville? You can just feel the energy when you walk the streets of downtown these days. There is no other place like it. This city has such a huge heart and soul, and I think that many of us that live here often take that for granted. The musical talent here is beyond compare, and people are just plain friendly.” Beth knows her stuff too. You can find her fun Eat.Drink.Smile. blog here.
We asked Beth’s must-see places in Music City. “Well of course you must visit the Goo Goo Shop and our friends across the street at the Johnny Cash Museum. Tootsie’s and Robert’s Western World are favorite honky tonks, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and a tour of the historic Ryman should be on the list. Everyone should take a stroll across the Pedestrian Bridge to get a great view of the downtown skyline. One must also eat, so we suggest grabbing a bite at The Southern, Acme Feed & Seed, Merchants, Etch, The Farm House or Puckett’s.” You can see more of Nashville’s best restaurants here.
“We have a product that has been made in Nashville for over 100 years. It is Nashville’s candy, and we feel like every person that visits here should not leave this city without trying a Goo Goo Cluster!” So next time you are downtown Nashville, you must stop by the Goo Goo Shop. Until then, check out their online store and try their yummy recipes like this Gooey Goo Goo Brownie Pretzel Pie. No wonder Thrillist included Goo Goo in their Nashville’s 7 Most Iconic Foods & Drinks list and 12 Things the Rest of the World Should Thank Nashville For.
Goo Goo – another reason Nashville is the “It City“.