Reese Mix forces sports fans to save their snacks

A snack bowl programmed to only open when the puck drops is part of a broader strategy to become a go-to gametime treat.

The Hershey Company wants Reese Mix to be a go-to snack for sports fans, so it has created a device designed to sync eating habits to people’s playoff viewing schedule.

The “Breakaway Bowl” is meant to be filled with Reese Mix, but to ensure that the snack makes it to gametime, a cover on the top is synced to the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule. The bowl will only open (releasing lights and the classic sound of an arena organ) when the game starts and close once it’s finished.

The bowl, created by Anomaly Toronto, is currently in the prototype phase and not widely available to the public. For now, it is the subject of a new video, with a few versions of the product being sent to hockey influencers like Sportsnet hosts Tim and Sid.

Azim Akhtar, brand manager at The Hershey Company, says the company is currently looking to gauge consumer reaction and interest before deciding if and how it will proceed with the “Breakaway Bowl” in the future, be it as a giveaway, packaging it with products or selling it direct-to-consumer.

While the bowl is currently synced to hockey games, the technology can also be programmed to open and close in time with other sports, or the beginning and end of movies and TV shows.

Reese Mix – a combination of mini Reese Cups, Reese’s Piece, peanuts and pretzels – is one of several products in Hershey’s “Mix” line of products, which also features similar sweet-and-salty mixes for confectioneries like Oh Henry! and Hershey Cookies and Cream. The Hershey Company as a whole is also partner of the NHL, but Akhtar says the company has really been focusing on the Reese brand in its communications strategy around hockey and sports as a whole, so as not to “dilute” the partnership with too many brands.

The video introducing the “Breakaway Bowl” features the “mixologist” character from the “Mix It Up” campaign, where the Mix line was first introduced to consumers. One of the online videos featured him answering a question about his favourite sport, and it became one of the most successful videos in the campaign. As a result, Hershey found that its target over-indexed as sports fans, which led the company to pivot and make Mix a key part of its sports communications.

Akhtar adds that the sweet-and-salty product is an ideal gametime snack, and the goal with its recent marketing has been to “own” that occasion.

“We know that our consumers are watching sports, so we’re trying to leverage that opportunity to build a snack that’s meant for gametime viewing,” he says. “There’s popcorn and chips and things we know they are already snacking on, so we’ve been trying to introduce them to a brand new snack and have them try something new that could become their go-to for gametime.”

Hershey has attempted to create a connection between Reese Mix and sports though messaging on social to in-store sampling programs ahead of the Super Bowl. But Akhtar says the combination of novelty and utility with the “Breakaway Bowl” helps the brand and product break through.

“The bowl is just cool,” he says. “As a marketer, I’m always trying to develop campaigns that excite people but that I’m also personally passionate about. When we came to this idea, it was a perfect fit with the brand and something that will catch peoples’ attention.”