Santa’s elves are recruiting helpers at the virtual Candy Cane Institute

The Candy Cane Institute research lab, run by Santa’s elves, is recruiting research subjects (you!) to help them find the true meaning of the Yuletide season and make this Christmas the merriest ever!

candy cane institute

Through a brand new virtual guided and interactive experience, kids of all ages can “travel” to the North Pole and join Santa and his elves as they gather crucial data that will help them design the perfect holiday.

The elf analysts may be a bit misguided in their merry quest, though, as they have taken data-driven research to new heights, believing more seasonal joy can be found through the careful study of everything from the best holiday sweater design to the optimal candy cane shape and size. And that’s where the family fun starts!

candy cane institute

Children and children at heart can take a 10-minute virtual tour of the Candy Cane Institute’s facilities as they assist Santa’s elves in their research, ending with a visit to the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus.

Co-created by the visionary Hotopp Associates design firm in partnership with Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., the Candy Cane Institute was founded in 1972, and 2020 is the first time it’s been presented online, in consideration of the ongoing pandemic.

candy cane institute

Jill Renslow, executive vice president of Mall of America, shared her excitement for the project: “The holiday season needs more magic than ever this year, which is why we were thrilled that the Candy Cane Institute chose Mall of America to help bring this virtual experience to our guests all over the world. At Mall of America we’ve always been guided by data-driven information to create a better guest experience, so we appreciate the efforts of the Candy Cane Institute and look forward to welcoming families to this new online holiday experience.”

If all goes as planned, the elves’ research will help bring the Candy Cane Institute to Mall of America as a first-ever field market set-up. Gary Wichansky, CEO and head creative at Hotopp, revealed, “We are thrilled to work with Mall of America to launch the first-ever Candy Cane Institute virtual holiday experience. As true believers in the intersection of retail and entertainment space, Mall of America has been the perfect partner to bring something fun, unique, and safe for families virtually this holiday season.”

candy cane institute

The Candy Cane Institute virtual experience is presented by Undeniably Dairy and brought to you by Midwest Dairy. After all, Santa does love his milk and cookies!

Reservations are required for virtual visits, and time slots are limited. The cost is $20 per family or group, which includes an elf-guided video, interactive tour, and a visit with Santa. To purchase tickets, visit


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