Popcorn partner

Gold Medal thrives along with moviegoers’ cravings
Columns

Last month we looked at the impact of the economy on concessions, a purchasing category that is somewhat protected from tough times. We thought it would be interesting to look at a more specific example of this phenomenon. So we asked Gold Medal Products Company, a longtime member of the concession industry, to share their views on this subject. Here’s what they had to say.
        —Anita Watts, FJI Concessions Editor

Some things will never go out of style, no matter how troubled the economy may seem. People will always find refuge in their popcorn and movies. It’s one of the reasons Gold Medal Products Company has found success since 1931 when other businesses have faltered.

From humble beginnings in ink sales, Gold Medal became a market leader by making the concession equipment and supplies that fed the world’s cravings for popular treats. Gold Medal’s accomplishments are in part due to its commitment to provide quality products at economic prices, and because it makes the foods that drive people to splurge.

This trend is mirrored in the continued growth of movie concessions. Popcorn, which became popular in theatres after World War II, has always been one of the top moneymakers. In the July 25, 1949 issue of Life magazine, an article stated, “…Many of them [theater men] frankly confessed that this strange, national hunger had come to mean the difference between profit and loss…Thanks to such prodigious theater sales, popcorn producers now market 2,400,000,000 bags a year.”

Gold Medal has continued to build on that popularity through its growing line of products and supplies.

“Movies appeal to all ages and people have grown to expect popcorn and other concession treats to snack on,” John Evans, senior VP of Gold Medal, says. Those other treats are nachos, pretzels, hot dogs, cotton candy and more.

Fred Blank, owner of Tri State Theatre Supply Company, agrees. His company began in 1935 and notes that “people are willing to pay the money for the all-inclusive experience,” which includes snacks and a drink.

“Moviegoing is an ingrained habit,” Blank continues. “The entire moviegoing experience starts with the ticket sellers to the lobby appearance to the neon colors and flash at the concession stand. It’s all a huge motivator; those things drive people to the concession stand.”

While theatres capitalize on that continuing spending trend, Gold Medal has grown to worldwide distribution thanks to revitalizations that result from feedback. “We keep the theatre industry popping along, through innovations and improvements. Our company is built upon years of experience and we have tailored the machines to the needs of the industry,” Evans declares.

Blank believes movie theatre owners continue to choose Gold Medal because of quality and enhancements. “Gold Medal has improved their product line significantly over the past ten years. They are very functional products at reasonable prices,” Blank states. “Gold Medal does react nicely to suggestions. They have built new products for us in response to those suggestions.”

These innovations are created in Cincinnati, Ohio, thanks to a dedicated staff of more than 300 employees (400 nationwide), including nine in-house engineers who continually improve the current lines and develop new products.

Gold Medal was the first to produce factory-made cotton candy cones and makes more than 80 different models of popcorn poppers. Some recent advancements are the reduction of burnt popcorn thanks to the Auto Dump option on all 32 and 52-ounce kettles. The dump mechanism is tied to the Big Eye electronic heat control that signals the operator when to load a batch and when it’s complete.

Pop Clean eliminates the need for vents thanks to its clean air discharge option, and there are also built-in fire-suppression systems available. Plus, Flexi Pop allows operators to cut the overall size in half for slower periods.

These innovations, plus Gold Medal’s one-stop-shop approach, have helped the company grow. It continues to prosper because of the ongoing popularity of snacks and movies, despite any economic slow periods.

“From top to bottom, we’re in touch with the customers and have a great technical support team to help,” Evans says. “We’re the only company that offers the complete package. We have everything you need, from the equipment and supplies down to the cleaning products.”
The company also maintains that approachability with its customers and employees. This summer, the fourth generation of this family-owned business worked beside third and second generations. The family affair extends even to the warehouse, as parents and their adult children often work together.

The facts listed above and the knowledge that theatres can make an average of 70 to 80% profits on foods has kept concession stands thriving for decades. It also means that despite whatever the current economy or world may bring, people will continue to splurge on the fun foods that have been part of memories for generations.

It’s good news for Gold Medal Products and for concession stands across the globe.