By Mike Pomranz
Updated January 21, 2016
Credit: Science Photo Library / Alamy

When chocolate calls, you answer. That’s just Sweet Tooth 101. And now Hershey’s is seeking help in the battle against one of chocolate’s top foes: heat.

The U.S.-based chocolate-maker has announced a “Cool Ship Technologies” contest seeking open submissions from innovators who believe they can design more affordable packaging to keep chocolate from melting in warm climates. “Currently, chocolates ordered May through September, or to certain geographies, must be shipped in protective packaging to prevent melting,” the company writes on the competition page. “This method allows shipped chocolate to arrive at its destination without melting, but there can be undesirable side effects.” The brand describes current technologies as “expensive and … used in high value situations, such as medical, electronics, and aerospace applications.”

For the contest, participants can submit their ideas to compete for $25,000 in development funds if they are able to create “a lightweight, affordable shipping system that will keep chocolate close to the temperature at which it was packed, 75°F or below, for at least 48 hours” and that is “inexpensive enough to use year round, as part of the standard packaging for small parcel shipments.”

Not that packaging innovation is my area of expertise, but a mere $25,000 seems a little low for technology that could really affect the bottom line of a company that had over $7 billion in revenue in 2014, especially when many believe Hershey’s biggest growth potential is in emerging markets with warm weather like South America and the Middle East. But not to worry! The chocolate giant also writes, “There may be additional funded development opportunities for the awarded technology.” I damn well hope so.

Interested parties can submit their ideas from now until February 15. So hit your garage, small-time inventors! I wonder whether they’ve given Styrofoam a try yet? I’m guessing Styrofoam might work.