DES MOINES, Iowa — Starting this fall, Dahl’s Foods  introduced snack stations for its youngest customers. For a donation of a quarter, kids can choose a snack from a rotating selection — including items like bananas, raisins, oranges, fruit leather or organic chocolate squares.
“We originally started it out at the EP True store [in West Des Moines, Iowa], and we’ve since put it in all of our stores. It’s just been really a good promotion for us to help entertain children when they’re shopping with their parents,” Dahl’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Davis told SN.
Each store director determines the selection of snacks, but in general, each stand offers around four items at a time.
The chain has long offered Brach’s candy for a quarter per three pieces, but wanted to bring in healthier options for children. Dahl’s chose to place the new snack stations in the produce department, instead of next to the Brach’s candy so that kids wouldn’t have to make the tough choice, Davis said.
So far, the snack stations have been popular. After the first kids’ center was announced on Dahl’s Facebook page, shoppers asked for their local stores to add their own. Now all Dahl’s stores have stations.
To advertise the new station, Dahl’s associates will ask kids if they’ve stopped by, Davis said.
“Or, sometimes if a child is maybe not having the greatest day, we’ve even just went and grabbed something [from the snack station], put a quarter in there and asked the parent if they minded us giving them an orange or a raisin or whatever might be there that particular day. And generally they say yes, but it’s totally up to them,” Davis said.
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The snack centers are unmanned, with an honor system donation box. The stores will not be keeping the proceeds, but will give them back to the local community.
“What we’ll do with that money after it gets to a certain amount, we’ll take that money and all of it will be donated to a local school,” Davis said, noting that while the donation won’t be in the thousands of dollars, the quarters will add up.
The kid stations are decorated with Dahl’s newest mascot, introduced this January,
“Dahl’s has a D that has been well known in our 80-plus years in existence and we’ve taken that D and turned it upside down and turned it into an owl. And that owl’s name is Chadwick.”
The kid-friendly owl, designed using the chain’s orange and blue color scheme, is part of a campaign that Dahl’s is undertaking this year. So far, Chadwick has been included in coloring contests, and the retailer plans to incorporate him into educational materials.
“Definitely they’ll be seeing Chadwick throughout the store, and there will be related stories specific to certain items and kids can read it and it’s coming from Chadwick so it might be a little more interesting for a child to read something. Maybe it’s about a certain fruit,” Davis said.
In the future, Dahl’s may hide Chadwick in the store and give children prizes for finding him.
“Kids have really been drawn to the Chadwick character. … We have little tattoos; we have little stickers that we hand out, so it’s been a neat experience for the kids.”
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