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London's M&M's Store Is Really, Really Weird

How does it continue to exist?

by Toufic Beyhum
23 September 2014, 10:05am

M&M's World in Leicester Square is really strange, both as a concept and a reality. This is a shop split over four floors in one of the most expensive commercial areas of central London. It employs at least 50 staff, and its main purpose is to flog pricey memorabilia inspired by bags of sugar-coated chocolate pellets. Somehow, it's still open three years after it opened its doors. 

I know the company has spent the past 20 years cramming their red and yellow "spokescandies" into the public consciousness, but I'm still not sure why anyone actually cares. Is it not essentially the same thing as a building full of Mr Muscle figurines, i.e. something you would never bother visiting?

I suppose I wouldn't have found it so odd if I'd come across the store in New York or Tokyo - places where there's a reasonable expectation you'll stumble across people dressed up as sweets for photo-ops. But there's something about the fact that it's in the UK that makes in doubly weird; even in London's most consumer-reliant postcode, nestled between the Ben & Jerry's flagship store and those tourist traps selling Kate Middleton shot glasses, it seems oddly incongruous.

When I visited, the majority of people browsing the endless list of branded products weren't even tourists, but Brits, presumably on a day trip to London for a £17 burger at the Rainforest Cafe and a good browse of some M&M's magnets. Which I found even stranger, considering the whole place - and its double-decker bus, Abbey Road zebra crossing, man in beefeater uniform, etc, etc - had clearly been set up to entice large groups of Austrian schoolchildren wearing matching rucksacks.

To try to get my head around the place, I took my camera along one Sunday afternoon last month and took some photos.

See more of Toufic's work here.