Best Western Inn

Hershey, Pennsylvania

The Best Western Inn–Hershey is a mid-range, independently owned franchise hotel on the outskirts of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Its main clientele are the families who come for HersheyPark, the town’s chocolate-themed amusement park. Because of its confectionery setting, the Best Western is accoutred with bits of chocolate charm: candy this and cocoa that, Hershey Kisses on the pillows, the halls lined with reproductions of photos from the early days of the town, including, unaccountably, one of a local minstrel troupe. Best of all, the Best Western employs a young person to dress up in a chocolate-colored dog costume and entertain children staying at the hotel.

The summer of 1989, I was that dog—precisely, a sort of hound/beagle hybrid named Chocolate Chip. Wearing synthetic fur pajamas and a headpiece fashioned from an old football helmet, I roamed the halls of the hotel, greeting guests and giving kids high fives. My effect on children was not magical or transforming, but rather, adequate. When they saw Chocolate Chip, kids didn’t so much come alive as act politely amused: “Oh look, it’s a dog.” It is a truism that a large dog-impersonator in a hotel lobby is not nearly as exciting after a day at the amusement park.

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—Nick Poppy

Nick Poppy is a writer and filmmaker living in Brooklyn.

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