Reader's Choice NEW Products of the Year

As the economy problems have leveled off and people are again purchasing their at-work snacks and meals from vending machines, they are looking for two things: their old favorites and their soon-to-be new favorites. These new favorites include new flavors introduced from well liked products. This is indicated by the winners in the candy (Mars Chocolate North America SNICKERS® Peanut Butter Squared), snack (Herr Foods Hot Sauce Flavored Potato Chips), food (AdvancePierre Foods Mini Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit Twins), and pastry (Cloverhill Bakery Boston Crème Danish) categories.

Additionally, expanding beverage product lines won in both the cold (Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Brew Over Ice K-Cup Portion Packs) and hot (Seattle’s Best Coffee Vended Coffee) beverage categories.

Cookie Dough wins cookie honors

Even the cookie category got a bit of a twist this year with The Promotion In Motion Companies’ Bake Shoppe™ Cookie Dough Miniatures™. Bite-sized pieces of egg-free, Butter-in-the-Batter™ cookie dough covered in milk chocolate, these minis contain no hydrogenated oils and require no refrigeration. There is also a chocolate chip variety.

The infamous SNICKERS has expanded with a peanut butter version called SNICKERS® Peanut Butter Squared from Mars Chocolate North America. The bar retains all the ingredients in SNICKERS, like caramel, nougats, milk chocolate and peanuts, but pairs them with peanut butter. The bar won the candy contest and is being supported with national advertising.

Winning trend: hot and spicy

A growing consumer trend in spicy foods accounts for the next winner, Herr Foods Hot Sauce Flavored Potato Chips. Winner of the snack category, the product combines Herr’s Ripple Potato Chips with the famous, three-pepper zing of Texas Pete® Hot Sauce from the TW Garner Food Co.

Two consumer trends collide in the next category winner. The trend towards mini foods and breakfast away-from-home made AdvancePierre’s Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit Twins the winner of this year’s food competition. The breakfast sandwich includes two pork sausages, scrambled eggs, and American cheese inside a buttermilk biscuit. Two sandwiches per package increase perceived value. Fully cooked, the sandwich is reheatable in the microwave oven without affecting the bun.

There’s no substitute for a pastry that satisfies a consumer’s sweet tooth. Cloverhill’s Boston Crème Danish took the top spot for this year’s pastry contest. A twist on the traditional Boston Cream Pie, this Danish has a custard cream and chocolate filling. The pastry is then drizzled with chocolate icing.

Hot beverage innovation sizzles

The winner of the hot beverage category is an old name which is revitalizing the hot beverage segment of the vending industry. Seattle’s Best Coffee was first introduced in the 1970s, but last year at the National Automatic Merchandising Association Oneshow, the company displayed Seattle’s Best Coffee vended coffee from a hot beverage machine manufactured by Crane Merchandising Systems. The Seattle’s Best Coffee Hot Drink Center features freshly ground beans and filtered water.

Seattle’s Best, part of Starbucks Corp., consecutively launched the “Anywhere Great Coffee is Needed” campaign to promote the value of the Seattle’s Best Coffee Hot Drink Center. The campaign includes TV ads, billboards, etc. Operators testing the branded hot beverage machine were impressed with customer reaction, including improved sales.

The cold beverage category winner also displayed at the 2010 NAMA Oneshow: Green Mountain’s Brew Over Ice K-cup Portion Pack. Designed for Keurig K-cup brewers, the Brew Over Ice line contains more coffee or tea than traditional K-cups. The machine brews the K-cup into a 16-ounce cup of ice. Available flavors include: Nantucket blend iced coffee, French vanilla iced coffee and a number of Celestial Seasonings Teas, including Half and Half, black tea and lemonade, Southern sweet tea,iced tea variety pack, sweet black tea, sweet peach black tea, sweet raspberry black tea and black tea unsweetened, sweet berry lime green iced tea, and sweet tropical breeze white iced tea.

New products generate excitement, which is why in 2010, Automatic Merchandiser changed the 17-year-old Reader’s Choice Products of the Year contest. Under the new rules, only products introduced from March 2010 to March 2011 were eligible to win.

Readers of Automatic Merchandiser and VendingMarketWatch were invited to nominate new products online.