Sweet Shoppe was a pop-up experience created in collaboration with acclaimed experiential designer Emlie Baltz exploring the unexpected sides of the stuff we call ‘sweet’. For three days in December 2017 we took over a retail space in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, attracting thousands of shoppers, tourists, and curious passersby. Within the installation, which combined the feel of an industrial wonderland with Willy Wonka vibes and sensory surprises, guests chose to take part in a range of five activities. These included exploring the history and sociopolitical impact of sugar processing in conversation over custom made grenadines at The Sweet Bar; investigating the molecular structures of beloved sugary treats and making their own cotton candy at the Confection Connection; testing the impact of their senses on their perception of sweetness in an audio tour of Dr. Sugar’s Sense Machine; using fruit sugars and their own bodies to make music in Emilie Baltz and Carla Diana‘s Lickestra- a musical licking performance that presents a series of conductive ice creams that trigger various baselines and tones when licked, turning the act of licking into an instrument of play; and finally, finding out the “age” of their palates at our Fountain of Youth. As a finale guests were sent back out into the world with their ability to taste sugar (temporarily) taken away using a tea brewed from Gymnema, a tropical plant whose constituent bioactive component is able to suppress sweet tastes.
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