FORT ATKINSON, Wis. -- Automatic Merchandiser's annual readers' choice contest produced some surprises as vending operators once again select the bestselling, most-profitable and most-requested products, the trade publication said.
Its 2006 Readers' Choice Products of the Year included two first-time winners: Nestl a Foodservice's Hot Pockets brand Meatballs & Mozzarella sub sandwich, and Kar Nut Products Co.'s PB & J Mix. The Hot Pockets product captured first place in the hotly contested food category, which usually fields the most [image-nocss] entries, while PB & J Mix grabbed top honors in the new products category, which always features a first-time winner.
This year brought four returning winners from last year: Masterfoods USA's Snickers Bar, Kellogg's Food Away From Home's Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cloverhill Bakery's Big Texas Cinnamon Roll and Nestl a USA's Nesquik Chocolate Milk.
The contest also saw two products reclaim first-place status from previous years: Coca Cola's Coke Classic and Kar Nut Products Co.'s Sweet 'N Salty Mix.
Masterfoods USA's Snickers Bar remains the contest's only undefeated winner, the magazine said. The product also maintains the distinction of being the all-time top vote getter.
Kellogg's Food Away From Home's Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies, one of this year's four return winners from last year, also enjoyed undefeated status until it was dethroned for one year in 2004 by Masterfoods USA's Cookies&.
Kar Nut Products Co.'s Sweet 'N Salty Mix, one of the two products to reclaim top honors from prior years, took its third first place finish this year, having also won in 2003 and 2004. Sweet 'N Salty Mix took runner-up honors last year, when PepsiCo Foodservice's Cheetos, also a perennial winner, grabbed the top spot.
Kar Nuts has emerged as a regular contender in the salted snack category. This year the company was the only manufacturer to grab two first-place trophies. Operators have credited its products' popularity to health appeal.
PepsiCo Foodservice's Nacho Cheese Doritos and Kraft Foods' Planters Peanuts shared runner-up honors in the salted snack competition.
Coca Cola Classic, the other product to reclaim top honors this year, returns to the winner's circle following a one-year absence. Its perennial rival, PepsiCo's Pepsi Cola, took top honors in 2005. Coke Classic has enjoyed a winning streak from 2001 to 2004. It also held top honors from 1996 through 1998. In 1999, both of the top soft drinks were upstaged by PepsiCo's Mountain Dew. This marked the only instance in the contest's history that Coke Classic or Pepsi Cola failed to win first place.
Cloverhill Bakery's Big Texas Cinnamon Roll has taken the lead position in the pastry segment in recent years, grabbing its second consecutive first-place finish. Mrs. Freshleys/Flowers Specialty Group's Jumbo Honey Bun, the runner-up, held the top spot for five straight years from 2000 to 2004, and for two years in 1997 and 1998.
Nestl a USA's Butterfinger Crisp, which won the new product category last year, took runner-up honors in the candy segment this year.
Masterfoods USA's M&M's Bite Size Cookies once again took runner-up honors in the cookie competition.
Pierre Foods' BIG AZ Charbroil with Cheese, which won first place in the food category in 2002, 2004 and 2005, was this year's food runner-up. The food category has always fielded the most nominations, the report said.
Nestl a USA Nesquik Chocolate Milk once again grabbed top honors in the dairy category, and has won every year since the category was launched in 2001 with the exception of 2002, when its sister product, Nesquik Strawberry Milk, won. This year's runner-up in the dairy competition is ConAgra Foods' Hunt's Snack Pack Pudding.
Snyder's of Hanover's Peanut Butter Pretzel Sandwiches and Hershey Co.'s Kissables shared runner-up honors in the new product category.
Cookie: Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies Salted Snack: Kar Nuts Sweet 'N Salty Mix Candy: Masterfoods USA Snickers Bar Pastry: Cloverhill Big Texas Cinnamon Roll Food: Hot Pockets brand SUBS Meatballs & Mozzarella Beverage: Coca-Cola Classic Dairy: Nestl a Nesquik Ready-To-Drink Chocolate Milk New Product: Kar Nuts PB & J Mix
Candy: Nestl a Butterfinger Crisp Dairy: ConAgra Foods Hunt's Snack Pack Salted Snack: Frito-Lay Nacho Cheese Doritos and Planters Peanuts Pastry: Mrs. Freshleys Jumbo Honey Bun Beverage: Pepsi Cola Food: Pierre Foods BIG AZ Beef Charbroil with Cheese Cookie: Masterfoods USA M&M's Bite-Size Cookies New Product: Snyder's of Hanover Peanut Butter Pretzel Sandwiches; Hershey Kissables