IDF combat soldiers complete a long march as part of their advanced training.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An army may run on its stomach, but don’t underestimate the power of the sweet tooth. For 67 years, IDF soldiers have replenished their flagging energy with goodies and vital hangout time at Shekem outlets, the iconic kiosks that have provided snack sustenance and the main social gathering location at military bases around the country.
But beginning in 2015, soldiers are to say goodbye to the venerable institution (the Hebrew acronym for “Snack Bar and Kiosk Service”) and start buying their baked goods, soft drinks and assorted sundries from Kaveret (Hebrew for “Beehive”).
Hundreds of Shekem shops maintained by the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers are set to be rebranded following a campaign in which 1,200 soldiers participated to choose a new logo and brand for the chain.
The name was chosen due to the kiosks being “hives of activity” and “rendezvous spots.” The kiosks will soon offer a wider array of products to soldiers, expected to result in increased sales and popularity, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said.
An overhaul of the Shekem brand was required to keep up with modern marketing trends, Zvika Goldenberg, general manager of the chain, told the IDF Spokesman Office’s website this week.
“We will have to refresh the brand and create an alternative for soldiers that is similar to what they know from the civilian world,” he said.
For some soldiers, however, the charm of the old Shekem will be missed.
“Shekem was an island of civilization,” said Yoray Shoshani, a reserve soldier who served in the infantry.
“When you spend all day out in the desert or at the firing range, you would look forward to coming back and hurrying to the Shekem to see a minute of TV and eat something good that wasn’t army food or field rations.”
However, some of the operational aspects of the Shekem system left something to be desired, said Matt Lewi, who served in the Nahal Brigade.
“Generally speaking, the Shekem system was helpful for us as fighting soldiers. However sometimes, it wasn’t really productive since it was usually manned by a soldier himself, and usually not a very motivated one,” he said.
Former brigadier-general and public security minister Avigdor Kahalani, head of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, described Shekem as a “nostalgic” chain of military base kiosks, adding that the change is designed to bring a new appeal.
“We are continuously checking what is happening in the market, and carry out various adjustments, in order to bring to soldiers the best and most worthwhile service,” Kahalani said.
The name and the service may change from Shekem to Kaveret, but one thing will stay the same. A candy bar and a Coke at the end of a long day are comfort foods, whether you’re a school kid or a combat soldier.