Just blocks away from Santa Monica’s temporary Wonka-inspired museum, Candytopia, another sugar-coated attraction is popping up in the city for today only. In honor of National Caramel Day, Werther’s Original and Hasbro have teamed up to build a life-size version of the classic board game Candy Land at The Pier. Admission is free.

“The Santa Monica Pier is a 100-year-old landmark that evokes nostalgic feelings for visitors and is a popular family destination,” said Meredith Suffron, Werther’s Original director of marketing. “We saw the opportunity to use this location to bring our products to life in a way that lets people experience the Werther’s Original brand. Our hope is that ‘Candy Land: The Werther’s Caramel Edition Game’ brings back feelings of nostalgia for those who grew up with these classic brands.”

The 1949 board game known for its rainbow path and a winner dictated by the shuffle of the deck is one of the most popular games in America, selling about one million copies a year, according to the book Timeless Toys by Tim Walsh. The game was created in the polio ward of a San Diego hospital by a retired schoolteacher. When the game became a hit, the schoolteacher used her royalties to donate school supplies to children in need.

The life-size version has been revamped to celebrate caramel, the sugary confection that coats apples and popcorn. Visitors can wander through the Caramel Popcorn Mountains, Werther’s Woods, and the Caramel Creme Lagoon as they try to reach the Caramel Castle. The display itself is not edible but filled with Werther’s caramels.

“Our goal to celebrate National Caramel Day this year was to create an immersive experience centered around classic favorites the whole family could enjoy together,” Suffron said.

The giant board game will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Mario Lopez of “Extra” and “Saved by the Bell” will be there from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

There will be a digital version of the game on caramelday.com to give the one-time destination a national reach. After the event, there will be a 360-degree video of locals and tourists wandering through the experience posted on the site.

A German company, Werther’s Original is named after the village where Gustav Nebel created the caramel candy company more than 100 years ago. It is believed caramel was invented in 1850, when someone discovered adding milk and fat to cooked sugar produced a soft, chewy candy, according to the National Day Calendar. The caramelization process begins when sugar is heated slowly to 338 degrees, causing the molecules to break down and reform.

There are over 1,500 national days every year.


Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press