If you like to end your visits to the Mall of America on a sweet note, its latest attraction is happy to oblige.
The 24,000-square-foot M&M's store is now open and, judging from the number of candy-yellow bags seen throughout the mall, it's going to be a popular addition.
Located near the mall's rotunda, the first two floors are chock-full of candy and merchandise, much of it tailored to a Minnesota audience and, naturally, fans of the candy. (A third floor, Peanut Peak, will open this summer.)
Passersby will notice the bright colors and lighted entrance, but it's not until you walk further inside that you can appreciate the store's scale.
The first level has prepackaged M&M's, all designed for gift-giving and souvenirs. Containers range from fun and sassy to uniquely Minnesotan — think woodsy and fishing.
The store's merchandising is a master's class in marketing. T-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, golf balls, boxers, pajamas, shoe laces, water bottles and pillows are available in a range of colors and prices — and that's just on the first floor.
Ride the escalator to the second floor (note the light fixtures) and you'll be greeted by the Wall of Chocolate, where 132 candy bins await. Separated by plain, peanut and flavored, with a few bins of Skittles tacked on for good measure, shoppers can buy candy by the pound (cost is $8.50 for a half-pound). If you have a favorite flavor that you can't find reliably in stores, such as coffee, dark chocolate, toffee and mint, here's your chance. If you want to personalize M&M's, you can do that, too.
To make sure all your senses are heightened, the store also has immersive experiences, such as its "Sweet Moves" feature (where people can "express their personality through color, sound and movement), several places for photo opportunities and, starting May 6, an M&M Mix pop-up, which combines favorite flavors into one bag. (There are two varieties: classic, a mix of milk chocolate, peanut and peanut butter M&M's, and peanut, which features white chocolate peanut, dark chocolate peanut and milk chocolate peanut.)
If you're not ready to venture to the Mall of America, take a virtual tour at mms.com.
This the sixth M&M's store — other locations are in Las Vegas, Orlando, London and Shanghai — and a homecoming of sorts for parent company Mars Co.
In 1920, Frank C. Mars moved to Minneapolis with candy on his mind. He opened the Nougat House, and eventually introduced his first candy bar, the Mar-O-Bar, and took that name for his company. Although that candy bar was too delicate to hold up to transportation (it was basically chocolate-covered whipped cream), his next attempt — the Milky Way — was a different story.
Mars and his son, Forrest, had the idea for putting malted milk in a candy bar after noticing the growing popularity of milk shakes. And in 1923 they did just that, making a candy bar with the slogan "A Chocolate Malted Milk in a Candy Bar." Its rapid success lead to the hiring of a full-time sales staff and, in 1929, the business's move to Chicago.
M&M's didn't come along until the 1940s, but the candy's popularity led to a number of imitators, eventually giving Forrest Mars the idea to imprint the letter "m" on each piece of candy.
The M&M's store is at 5160 Center Court. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Nicole Hvidsten • @nicolehvid