Hershey's Found a Surprising Connection Between the Pandemic and... S'mores?

The DIY dessert has a longer season than usual last year.

Hershey has a recipe for "Classic S'mores" on its website, and it's basically just a reminder that you need to heat the marshmallow before sandwiching it between the chocolate and the graham crackers. But the simplicity of s'mores—and the short three-item ingredient list—are part of what's so great about them. S'mores are an easy, delicious comfort food, and they're partially why Hershey's sales have gone absolutely bonkers in the past year.

During an appearance on CNBC's "Closing Bell," Hershey CEO Michele Buck said that, even in the early days of the pandemic, sales of Hershey chocolate bars increased by 40 to 50 percent in communities that had higher numbers of coronavirus cases. Apparently when people were locked down, staying home, or just wary of being out, they started making a lot more s'mores in their backyards.

S'more with burnt marshmallow and melted chocolate
bhofack2/Getty Images

As a result, Hershey started following case counts to determine where it should spend its advertising dollars. When the numbers started to increase in a particular area, they would set up additional in-store displays, buy more media in those markets, and ensure that retailers had adequate inventory of chocolate bars. They also switched their ad imagery to show people making s'mores in more low-key settings, as opposed to in big groups.

Hershey previously explained that, during a normal year, they wouldn't see significant sales increases of their s'mores-friendly six-packs until just before Memorial Day. But last year wasn't a normal year for anything, including chocolate bars. "It was the biggest s'mores season we've ever had," Hershey's Chief Growth Officer Kristen Riggs said last month.

Hershey has been talking about our insatiable demand for s'mores (and our shift to safer, more socially distanced outdoor gatherings) for the past few months. Last August, Hershey said that Americans had already made, on average, two S'mores since the pandemic began. (I'll acknowledge my personal contribution to that statistic. I couldn't tell you the last s'mores I made during the Before Times, but have had them on at least three occasions since last March.)

"I believe there is a silver lining in the ways that families have come together during quarantine to savor the simple things in life," Ryan Britt, the Director of Hershey's U.S. Customer Supply Chain wrote last summer. "Gathering around s'mores has been one backyard activity that consumers continue to cherish [...] Families have found comfort around fireplaces, fire pits and grills, and taken joy in this nostalgic, DIY dessert."

So if you've found yourself trying to thread a marshmallow onto a pointed skewer lately, you're definitely not alone. And if you haven't participated in the s'mores trend, you might as well: apparently there's even a recipe for it.

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