2009 Automatic Merchandiser Readers' Choice Products of the Year

Not a lot of surprises emerged in the 2009 Automatic Merchandiser Readers’ Choice Awards, as established name brand products maintained their dominance, the notable exception being Oreo®, which grabbed top honors in the cookie category.

Oreo® from Kraft Vending & OCS has been a periodic runner up in the cookie competition, which Famous Amos® Chocolate Chip Cookies has long dominated. Famous Amos® Chocolate Chip Cookies has won the cookie competition every year in the contest’s 16-year history except for the present year and in 2004, when Masterfoods USA’s COOKIES& grabbed the top spot. COOKIES&, which featured two well known Masterfoods brands, Snickers and M&Ms® in a twin pack, also won the new product of the year competition in 2004.

Oreo®, last year’s runner up in the cookie category, has long been one of the top selling retail cookie brands in the U.S.

The contest demonstrates the challenge that product manufacturers face in trying to gain market share in the vending channel, where established products supported by consistent marketing and advertising can maintain their dominance over a long time period.

This year’s contest featured four return winners in the seven competitive categories: Masterfoods USA Snickers® Bar, Cloverhill’s Big Texas Cinnamon Roll, Pierre Foods’ Big AZ Beef Charbroil with Cheese, and Coca-Cola Classic®.

The only first-time winner this year other than Oreo® was in the new product category, which is designed to spotlight a new winner. All other winners were repeat winners.

This year’s new product winner is Sun-Maid Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Biscomerica Corp. Sun-Maid
Oatmeal Raisin cookies combine unbleached wheat flour, natural oats, and Sun-Maid raisins in two soft cookies in 3-ounce packs.

Broad Street Bakery’s Banana Pudding Cakes took runner up honors in both the new product competition and in the pastry competition.

SNICKERS BAR RECLAIMS ITS CANDY TITLE

Masterfoods USA’s Snickers® Bar reclaimed its perennial title in the candy category, having been displaced once in 2007 by its longtime rival, M&M’s® Peanuts. Snickers® Bar was runner up in 2007.

This year, M&M’s® Peanuts was nosed out for runner up honors in the candy category by Nestle Butterfinger® Crisp. Butterfinger® Crisp won the new product competition when it was introduced in 2005.

Coca-Cola Classic, which was upset by Pepsi Cola’s Mountain Dew in 2007, retained its top spot in the beverage segment and has been the most consistent beverage winner. Mountain Dew was runner up for the second consecutive year.

Coca Cola Classic® remains the top brand at retail as well, according to data from Beverage Digest, a beverage industry newsletter that tracks beverage trends.

Coca Cola Classic® led in supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores and mass merchandisers, Beverage Digest reported.

Another return winner is Cloverhill Bakery’s Big Texas Cinnamon Roll, which took top honors for the fifth consecutive year. Broad Street Bakery’s Banana Pudding Cakes took runner up honors in both the pastry competition and the new product competition.

Planters® Peanuts from Kraft Vending & OCS won the salted snack contest, reclaiming the title it won in 2007. Planters® Peanuts was runner up in 2008, when Frito-Lay Nacho Cheese Doritos took the top prize. This year’s salted snack runner up was Tato Skins Steak & Potato Chips from Inventure Group.

Pierre Foods’ Big AZ Beef Charbroil with Cheese was the fourth return winner this year, grabbing top honors in the food segment for the fifth time since 1998.

Tony’s® Pepperoni Stuffed Sandwiches from Schwan Food Co. took runner up honors in the food segment this year.

The dairy product competition, launched in 1997, was discontinued in 2007 due to a lack of new entries.

The Readers Choice awards are based on votes faxed, mailed or emailed to Automatic Merchandiser from readers. Readers are asked to vote for their best selling, most profitable and most requested products.

In the past six years, most nominations were made via email than were physically mailed or faxed. Automatic Merchandiser attached mail-in and fax-in ballots to its January issue.

The winners will be presented trophies at the NAMA Spring Expo in Las Vegas, along with winners of the 2008 People of the Year contest, which were announced in the December 2008 issue.

Automatic Merchandiser encourages all operators to congratulate the winners and runners up at their booths.

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