No Hanging Chads in Our Readers’ Choice Awards

In this issue of Automatic Merchandiser, we announce the winners of the 15th annual Readers’ Choice awards for “Products of the Year.” Since joining the staff of Automatic Merchandiser back in 1999, I’ve enjoyed keeping an eye on this annual list of products that our readers consider to be their best selling, most profitable and/or most requested products in eight different categories.

The list usually includes traditional favorites in either first place or runner-up. But it always includes a few surprises.

HOW DOES A PRODUCT GET NOMINATED?

People often ask us just how a product gets “nominated” for product of the year. Well, the answer is they don’t. This award is determined by the readers. Automatic Merchandiser does not nominate any product. The awards truly are based on the readers’ choice.

We include a blank, mailable ballot on the front cover of an issue of Automatic Merchandiser and further encourage readers to vote online by going to our Website, www.amonline.com.

Online voting is restricted to only one ballot submission per computer to eliminate “ballot stuffing.” No hanging chads in this voting process! Voting in the past few years has drastically changed with most ballots now being cast online rather than filling in a blank ballot and mailing it in.

SOME CONTESTS ARE HOTLY CONTESTED

Some categories have a clear winner from the very start, while others are hotly contested. Several categories have two to three products that either win, place or show in every contest. And that’s where the enjoyment comes in.

It’s exciting to watch the votes as they are tallied to see if last year’s winner will remain on top or if the runner-up has taken the lead. Product manufacturers take great pride in winning a category. Some have actually utilized the prize for promotional purposes.
Winning companies have printed their good news on t-shirts that they give out to employees and customers. In some cases, a graphic representation of the winning plaque from Automatic Merchandiser is reproduced on the product’s package.
So what was the big surprise this year? This year, for the first time, we had the same product receive votes in three different categories and it still comes out the winner in one of them.

IS IT A COOKIE OR A PASTRY?

Kraft Vending & OCS’s new Oreo Cakesters received votes in the Cookie Category, the Pastry Category and the New Product Category. It won the New Product Category, came in third place in the Cookie Category and received multiple votes in the Pastry Category. So what does that mean? Readers are saying, ‘call it a cookie or call it a pastry, Oreo Cakesters are a great new product!’ I encourage you to go to page 28 and find out who all the winners are in this years Readers’ Choice Awards for Products of the Year.

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