CHICAGO -- The annual NACS Show presents a prime opportunity to see the latest foodservice products and preparations making their mark on convenience-store prepared foods. But it also allows attendees to see the newest ovens, steamers, brewers and other equipment tools that are helping c-store foodservice operators get the job done.
Take a look at just five of the many small-footprint equipment solutions geared toward the hottest trends in food and dispensed beverages, as seen from this year's show floor.
1. Icee's Twisted Chill machine
The Icee Co., Ontario, Calif., keys into the made-to-order trend by offering a customer-facing touchscreen that allows guests to create their own slushy Icee beverage. Customers start with a base flavor—lemonade, sweet tea, nitro cold-brew coffee or pumpkin-spice coffee—and infuse the base with numerous different flavors that they select, all at the touch of a button.
2. Broaster's Smokaroma pressure smoker...
Beloit, Wis.-based Broaster Co.'s Smokaroma uses pressure-cooking technology to quickly and easily hot- or cold-smoke meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables—and even cheeses. The compact, ventless, electric unit can smoke up to 45 pounds of product in just 90 minutes, using an optional water baffle and 2 ounces of wood chips per cooking cycle. To enhance the flavor of the smoked food, Broaster now offers Smokaroma sauce, an ingredient blend that can be mixed with ketchup to create a gallon of specialty sauce; Smokaroma Red Rub, a mild seasoning rub for poultry and fish; and One Step Prep, a robust blend of spices specifically for meat, such as pork and beef.
4. Bunn's Nitron dispenser
Springfield, Ill.-based Bunn's Nitron Cold Draft Countertop dispenser is its newest solution for dispensing cold-brew coffee and nitro coffee without the need to manage kegs. One head serves black cold-brew coffee and the other side serves nitro coffee. Bunn developed an exclusive in-line gas infuser for the nitro coffees that produces up to three minutes of micro bubbles, resulting in a smooth, silky head and a creamy mouthfeel. The design features chrome-plated, brass tap handles and LED backlit merchandising in a slim, 10-inch-wide countertop design.
5. Chowbotics' Sally the Salad Robot
Chowbotics, Redwood City, Calif., specializes in "robots for foodservice." Its buzzworthy innovation is Sally the Salad Robot, Chowbotics' first product, which has recently appeared in The New York Times, TechCrunch, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg Pursuits and more. Sally the Salad Robot is being promoted for use in convenience stores, cafeterias, restaurants and noncommercial foodservice operations, and can create custom salads with up to 21 seasonal ingredients in less than a minute.
Users place a bowl beneath the dispenser, make ingredient selections on a touchscreen interface, and watch as Sally's interior canisters shift to drop each component into the bowl, one by one.