Making Goo Goo Clusters {Tennessee}

Tennessee is known for a lot of things, but of any of them probably the most sought after item to come out of the state is the Goo Goo Cluster. These tasty treats were America’s first combination candy bar and have been hitting the sweet tooth for a hundred years.

Goo Goo Clusters (photo:

The Goo Goo Cluster was the creation of Howard Campbell and the Standard Candy Company back in 1912. Campbell started putting some inexpensive extras into the chocolate to give it a little bit more substance. He began to add peanuts, nougat, caramel, and marshmallows to the silky smooth chocolate that the candy company was popular for. The Standard Candy Company had a small cart that wound its way through town selling the delightful treats.

Howard Campbell making Goo Goo Clusters (photo:

These chocolate creations became so popular that soon they were being sold under the glass countertops at candy shops throughout the city and quickly became everyone’s favorite candy. The name came from Howard Campbell’s son who started saying ‘goo goo’ when Howard was first having the idea of making this new candy. And so it was named the Goo Goo Cluster. But the popularity of these clusters would grow until it became the main sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry. After that people assumed that the GOO of the clusters were initials for the Grand Ole Opry.

Goo Goo and the Grand Ole Opry (photo:

From the time that Goo Goo Clusters fell in line with the Grand Ole Opry, there have been hundreds of programs showing the Opry’s biggest stars learning how to make the famous cluster. Then that opportunity was extended out to all the people of Nashville and they could go and try their hand at making this treat.

And that is what brings us to Nashville on this venture as we experience the wonder of making our own Goo Goo Cluster. With some of our family in tow, we went to downtown Nashville to the home of the Goo Goo Cluster, entered the delicious smelling store, and went to the back corner where a red door led to our Goo Goo Cluster classroom.

We filed into the classroom and took our places behind the tables while John our leader adjusted his microphone. We started with the history of Goo Goo Clusters and how they came to be the first of America’s combination candy bars. He said we could munch on a sample of the ‘little goo’ or the peanut butter cluster while he talked.

Then we were directed to our trays in front of us. There was a pre-made chocolate cup waiting to be filled with goodies. We pulled on the hair nets and gloves with many comments and jokes revolving around memories of cafeteria ladies from school.

We came up to the counter and had to make the difficult decision of what we were going to add to our cluster from the table of options. You get to pick two sticky options and 3 of the dry options. Little cups of peanut butter and different kinds of nougat and caramel (including a bourbon caramel with hints of whiskey it in compliments of the Jack Daniels Distillery down the road) were lined up on the table. These were followed by rows of jars of dry ingredients like nuts, sprinkles, pretzels, toffee, and chocolate chips. There was no question that our clusters were going to be epic.

Taking the decided goodies back to our tables, we were then instructed to put one of our sticky components into the bottom of the chocolate shell making sure to press it down across the entire bottom. Then we filled it to the brim with our dry components. We finished it off with our second sticky component, again making sure that it was all covered. We then went up to the chocolate fountain at the front of the room where we let that smooth chocolatey goodness fall over over our creation. We took a scraper and slid off any excess back into the fountain.

As our clusters set and cooled, we listened to John talk about chocolate and where it comes from and how it is made. We got to try little chips of Goo Goo’s ruby chocolate, golden chocolate, and dark chocolate. It was an interesting to hear more about chocolate, but we kept eyeing our cluster anxious to see (and especially to taste) our final product. We turned our tray upside down and gave it a tap on the table and our giant chocolate delight came out. We placed them in the red box and a small cooler bag that they gave us.

After the class was done we went back out into the store. They have an ordering system where anyone can create their own cluster and have it mailed to them. Apparently this has been put on hold because the heat lately has made delivery of chocolate a messy affair. And there was a wall of the iconic treats still sporting their original advertising.

We had such a blast getting in touch with this lesser known experience of Nashville and making our own Goo Goo Cluster. What could be better than making candy filled with all the best things!

{Know if you go: You need to reserve a time beforehand for the class as it has limited spots. To make reservations go to under experiences. We did the ‘ taste of goo goo’ experience which was $55/person. But they also offer a ‘spirits and chocolate’ experience where the candy making has the added wine and whiskey tasting for $90/person.

If your mouth is watering for more Tennessee originals, then you may want to check out:

The Loveless Café

Lodge Cast Iron Store

Moon Pie General Store

Thanks for coming along to the Goo Goo Cluster experience in Nashville. May your chocolate run smooth and your treats be full of crunch.

32 responses to “Making Goo Goo Clusters {Tennessee}”

  1. Never heard of a Goo Goo Cluster in my life before! Neither of us has much of a sweet tooth so I don’t think we’d be tempted to indulge in this..I think we’d still be back in the wine bar in your last post while you went off and did the Goo Goo thing!

    • haha, fair enough 🙂 I have a terrible sweet tooth, but even my candy was too much to enjoy in one sitting. I work with international students and I always tell them that in general, Americans like their sweets. If you order tea (especially here in the south) they will serve it cold and sweet and look at you weird if you ask for otherwise.

  2. How fun! Goo Goo Clusters are probably one of the only candy bars I (Kellye) have never tried, but I’m going to now! I think I’ve seen them at Cracker Barrel. Next time we are in Nashville we’re definitely doing this.

  3. I’ve never heard of Goo Goo Clusters – they haven’t made it across the pond! I’m not usually that keen on US chocolate when I’ve tried it to be honest, too bland and sweet for my taste (I prefer really dark and bitter chocolate). But making these looks like so much fun I could easily be persuaded to have a go!

    • Chocolate here is definitely more sweet and almost waxy. I would pick choclate from across the pond any day. The chocolate they used for goo goo clusters was much better than other places, it was rich and smooth to the point my sweet tooth thought is was too much. The experience though was really fun 🙂

  4. Mouth is absolutely watering. Those look good! I am not sure where to find any where I live, we don’t even a cracker barrel anywhere that I know of. Will have to see if I can order some online. What a fun time it looks like you guys all had, and love the added in history! Have never been but I do love Tennessee!

  5. I’d never heard of a Goo Goo Cluster before it sure looks a fun hands in experience to be able to take a lesson and create your own version. The end result looked very professional too! Hope you enjoyed eating them afterwards, perhaps not all at once though as it looked quite sweet as well as big!

    • It was definitely big and sweet. Even my sweet tooth couldnt handle it all at once :)but thats American deserts for you – big and sweet. it was a really fun experience to make them and to be part of such a tennessee favorite. I think its my favorite thing weve done in Nashville.

  6. These Goo Goo Clusters sound and look amazing. How awesome to go on a tour to learn about the history and process for making these candy bars. That’s awesome that you got to make your own as well and that it was a bit of a choose your own adventure, or rather flavour.

    • Tthank you, it was kind of a choose your own adventure in candy making and it was probably my new favorite thing we have done Nashville. The decision on what to put in it was much harder than I expected it would be. A really fun experience 🙂

  7. How on earth did I never try one of these during my trips to Tennessee!?!? Both Sladja and I have an incurable sweet tooth and the Goo Goo Clusters look and sound delicious. Love the retro poster at the Grand Ole Opry. I’m guessing Hatch Show Print has a few old Goo Goo Cluster posters in their collection. The class looks fun, I suspect I would end up eating too many of the ingredients along the way ha ha. Well, should I ever make it back to Tennessee a third time, I won’t be missing out on these treats. A fun piece, Meg.

    • Im sure Hatch printing is full of some old goo goo cluster and opry ads in their collection. It was a really fun experience. I am with you on the sweet tooth, my sweet tooth is incurable and a terrible influence for me. I must admit though these were so big and so sweet that even my sweet tooth couldnt handle it all in one sitting. If you make it back to Tennessee we will take you to make your own cluster 🙂

  8. I have never heard of Goo Goo Cluster, but it sounds like I should have done! I like the fact that you were able to have a go at making your own – very neat piece of marketing, too. If in the area, I should also feel it essential (it would be rude not to) to visit Jack Daniels’ place – even though you can’t really beat a good malt whisky! 🙂

    • So true- you can’t come to this area and not visit Mr. Jack since he is such a central character. With one hand holding a Goo Goo Cluster and the other holding Jack Daniels Whiskey- sounds like a perfect Tennessee treat!

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