By Frank Beard
CHICAGO – It’s no secret that the NACS Show can be overwhelming. While we intend to check out all of the products and services, we get distracted with meetings, education sessions, and new opportunities—not to mention all of the delicious pizza and fried chicken.
That’s why I’ve walked the show floor for you.
Before you leave tomorrow, be sure to check out these 7 great products.
1. Grabbies (#101)
Hand sanitizer at the pumps is great, but what if you didn’t even have to take that step? Grabbies has solved this dilemma by creating a plastic, biodegradable glove that can be dispensed in the forecourt.
Even better? They’re customizable with removable coupons that can drive customers into the store.
2. Soylent (#7886)
Already enormously popular in Silicon Valley and other corners of the tech world, Soylent is coming to convenience stores in a variety of flavors. The company originated with a viral experiment to create a tasteful drink that satisfied the full-range of daily nutritional needs, and Soylent is a great way to broaden your appeal to youthful customers and those looking for something a bit healthier.
Stop by the booth and ask how long it stays on a shelf. (seriously) And try either the original flavor or “Cafe Chai”.
3. Banana Products (#7793)
Wet floor signs are sometimes just as disgusting as a dirty floor. Rather than enhancing the ambiance of a store, they detract from it.
Fortunately, Banana Products LLC has spruced-up this often-overlooked item. By turning it into a replica of a banana peel, it inspires smiles rather than frowns.
4. Krispy Krunchy Boudin Bites (#4656)
The question of what boudin is, exactly, inspires different answers depending on who you ask. It’s primarily sausage and rice in a deep-fried ball, but different styles and flavors have inspired passionate debate.
But one thing is for certain: Krispy Krunchy Chicken has some amazing boudin bites. For those of us who have sampled too much food, they even include the calorie count. Go give ‘em a try!
5. Smash Mallow (#7985)
Looking for a sweet treat with a reasonable calorie count? Look no further than cinnamon churro-flavored Smash Mallows. These are exactly what they sound like: marshmallows coated with cinnamon and sugar.
At 80 calories per serving, I don’t feel bad snacking on a few.
6. Schaerer (#7348) and Franke (#6778) Coffee Machines
Gas stations are becoming the new coffee shops, and the machines from Franke and Schaerer are making it happen. These single-step devices are your customers’ personal baristas, making a perfect cup with the touch of a screen.
Stop by and demo a cup of coffee.
7. Grenades Gum (#8281)
It’s frustrating when chewing gum fails to provide the minty flavor we crave, or when it turns bland in a matter of minutes. The folks at Grenades Gum agree. That’s why they’ve created the most intense, overwhelmingly-powerful gum that I’ve ever encountered. Each flavor has an associated Blast Factor with 10 being the strongest.
My recommendation? Just go for it and try Super-Uber Mint—with a Blast Factor of 10.
Frank Beard is a regular NACS Daily contributor who has traveled to more than 1,000 convenience stores in 24 states. He raised awareness of the industry's healthful food options with his "30 Days of Gas Station Food" experiment, and he's an analyst/evangelist for convenience store and retail trends at GasBuddy. Follow Frank on Twitter here.