Goo Goo Clusters
AMERICA’S FIRST COMBINATION CANDY BAR
NASHVILLE SINCE 2002 (BETH) AND BIRTH (LAURIE)
“The Goo Goo Cluster was invented in 1912 right here in Nashville,” Goo Goo Cluster’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Beth Sachan, says. “It is actually known as America’s very first combination candy bar.”
“I believe we are the second oldest candy bar in the United States,” she continues, “the first being the Hershey plain milk chocolate bar, and the Goo Goo Cluster original is the second.”
The story of the Goo Goo brand begins at the turn of the century. Founder Howell Campbell was a teenager when he founded the Standard Candy Company in 1901. “The story goes that he and his plant foreman were just playing around with ingredients one day and had the genius idea of taking roasted peanuts, marshmallow nougat, and caramel, combining them all together, and then covering it in milk chocolate,” Beth says.
The company is a staple both in Nashville and across the nation. The brand grew in fame in the 1960’s, when it became a sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry. “We’re still the longest running sponsor,” Director of Brand Development Laurie Spradley says.
Today’s Goo Goo Cluster remains the original recipe. Alongside the original, Goo Goo now comes in two additional varieties: the Supreme, which has pecans, and the peanut butter, which is peanut butter, peanuts, and chocolate.
As with any company, there have been ups and downs in Goo Goo history; the pecan, for instance, was an adaptation to a challenge in the 1980’s when there was a peanut shortage. “We’ve kind of adapted as we’ve hit hard times,” Laurie says.
Now, they’re continuing to adapt, this time to the growing popularity of Nashville. Along with an e-commerce site, they have a physical location in downtown Nashville. “We’re really educating all the tourists, travelers that come into Nashville that this is Nashville’s candy, has this rich history, that ties in with music,” Beth says. Aside from selling the delicious cluster, they also offer classes, from things like wine and chocolate pairing to making your own premium Goo Goo.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Beth says. “How many people have the opportunity to work for a 100-year-old brand, that’s been around this long, and it’s chocolate.”
And for many Goo Goo lovers, it’s a life-long connection. “We get hand-written letters from 96-year-old little old ladies that have been eating this candy since they were a child,” Beth says. “It’s just so cool to hear all these different people that have been touched by the candy through the years.”
“It’s a piece of nostalgia that means a lot to families – I ate them because my grandmother ate them, because my mother at them,” she says. “It’s more than a piece of candy.”