Opinion: 40 Trips Around the Sun

40th birthday cupcake

It seems I’m turning ‑ this month.

Boy, that went by fast.

I still remember how it felt riding my bike to the Kwik Trip with my friend to pick up a bag of milk for my mom, or an Urge pizza to throw in the oven for lunch.

I remember the Sinclair station where we took our big yellow Pacer for regular tuneups. There was an old-fashioned, glass-bottle Coca-Cola machine—the kind with the bottle opener in the door. I still remember the way that soda pop tasted. It was the coldest Coke. It was the bubbliest.

Freddy's Finds a Fabulous Franchise

bowl of Dippin Dots

Jeff Warnick needed something absolutely fabulous. He was determined to find a franchise that mirrored his credo: providing “fabulous fun” for his customers.

Warnick, chief financial officer for Las Vegas-based Fabulous Freddy’s, a chain of eight stores, found it in a Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots co-branded franchise venture. He debuted the concept in his St. George, Utah, store last March.

Making Produce Sales Productive

fresh vegetables

Consumers have their trusted go-to places, from farmers markets to supermarkets, to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables. Your convenience store could soon be one of them, if it isn’t already.

The carrot at the end of the stick? A growing number of consumers now identify c-stores as purveyors of fresh varieties of all kinds.

This past spring, Temple, Texas-based McLane Co. introduced McLane Kitchen’s Fresh Produce + supply-chain
solution, a move made in conjunction with its participation in Partnership for a Healthier America.

Meat Snack Variety Packs: People Pleasers?

Oberto Beef Jerky 6-Pack

You’ve heard it before: Consumers want variety, options and new flavors. You’ve likely already tweaked your foodservice offering and packaged-goods selection to meet these needs, but could variety packs or multipacks be part of the solution?

Tapping Into New Beer Concepts

beer growler

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Sure, your store isn’t likely to be the next Cheers. But you can still create a neighborhood destination using the same tools. You don’t even need Sam or Diane to pour.

Both growler and crowler concepts have expanded beyond brewpubs and permeated the c-store market, allowing consumers to sample from a wide selection of craft and macrobrews and pinpoint their taste preferences.

Kegger at the Coffee Bar

starbucks cold brew

The trend has been bubbling for a few years. But it took a beverage behemoth and a foodservice equipment leader to get the attention of the industry.

By the end of the summer, more than 500 Starbucks locations will clear counter space for nitrogen-infused
cold-brew coffee taps, the company announced in May.

Simultaneously, New Port Richey Fla.-based Manitowoc Foodservice unveiled its Multiplex N2Fusion Beverage System at the NRA Show in Chicago.

Nashville Heat Wave Creeps North

Talk to any Nashville, Tenn., resident and they will say, “What took you so long?” Hot chicken is just now gaining the reverence it deserves outside of the Music City. And with millennial and Gen Z c-store customers after hotter, spicier and more eclectic fare, this fiery riff on fried chicken seems ready-made for a turn in c-store foodservice.

High Schoolers Smoking Less, Vaping More

vaping and cigarettes

The youth smoking rate is at a historic 25-year low.

As of 2015, 10.8% of high school students smoked, marking a 31% decline from figures from the 2013 survey
and a 41% decline from the 2011 survey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this latest data from its National Youth Risk Behavior Survey in early June.

As reported by Business Insider, this 10.8% figure was the lowest smoking rate in the CDC survey’s 25-year history.

Gummies May Be Soft, But Sales Aren’t

bummy bears

Gummies were the candy of the ’­80s—even sparking the creation of the children’s TV show “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears,” one of the only, if not the only, type of candy to hit the small screen, according to the National Confectioners Association.

But gummies are also the candy of today. Shipments of gummy fruit snacks grew 11.1% in 2015 vs. the prior year, according to distributor data from McLane Co., Temple, Texas.

2016 Retailer Survey

second annual Convenience Store Products retailer survey

This time last year, I was in my Subaru with the crushed Cheerios and half-drunk sippy cups, family in tow, driving five hours north of my Chicago home base to my hometown in Wisconsin. I was struck by how the changing geography brought with it changing retail strategies, how the regional dynamics in Wisconsin somehow differentiated those retailers from their Chicago-based comrades.



clif energy granola blueberry crisp

 Snack mix, granola, pickles and more


New innovations across packaged and foodservice

jelly belly candy cones

Sour treats are trending in the confection world