If you're a fan of The Simpsons, and you've ever wished you could taste-test a Squishee or a Lard Lad Donut for yourself, the time has finally come.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina now boasts the first real-world Kwik-E-Mart, the convenience store at the heart of the fictional town of Springfield for thirty seasons and counting. Designed to look and feel just like the store on the long-running animated series (though with less expired food), the Kwik-E-Mart opened less than a week ago and is already attracting visitors from all over the country.
Aside from the delicacies one might expect, like Heat Lamp Hot Dogs and Buzz Cola, fans can also buy a vast array of show-related memorabilia, featuring the likenesses of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, not to mention a host of other familiar faces from the series.
The owner of the Kwik-E-Mart in the long-running series, Apu, is featured inside his store, too, of course. As visitors leave they're greeted by a mural one of Apu's signature lines from the show: "Thank you, come again!"
Apu became a flashpoint for discussion this year when fans voiced their complaints over what was perceived as a racially insensitive portrayal of one of the few minority characters on the show. The conversation between viewers and showrunners remains ongoing.
In terms of the show's off-screen ventures, it looks as though this step towards making The Simpsons into a 4D experience is just the beginning. SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment, the company behind the new Kwik-E-Mart, is also planning to open a replica of the Aztec Theater later this year, promising an interactive red carpet encounter with the Simpson family.
“We are thrilled to bring The Simpsons to Myrtle Beach in a way that this incredible brand deserves,” CEO and Founder of SimEx-Iwerks Michael Needham said in a statement. “Launching this experience will be the culmination of years of passionate effort to bring The Simpsons to life beyond the screen. We are creating a series of memorable moments enriched with tremendous detail throughout the attraction so that guests feel they are part of The Simpsons universe.”