What’s the Future of Popcorn?
Solving Foodservice Challenges with the Ready Series
Popcorn is a beloved snack that only seems to grow in popularity. From prepackaged gourmet popcorn varieties at the grocery store to the famous freshly popped aroma of the movie theater, popcorn has a way of connecting with people. Now, there’s a new way to get popcorn into the hands of customers. The Ready Series is Gold Medal’s line of self-serve popcorn dispensers or popcorn vending machines. These unique products are not only engaging and entertaining, but they also help to solve some of the current problems facing the foodservice industry.
Addressing the Labor Shortage
The food and beverage industry is one of the largest employment segments impacted by the labor shortage. Being short-staffed has resulted in operators having to make tough decisions. They need food products that are low labor, but with an appeal to attract customers and still generate a profit. Popcorn is an ideal fit. With low costs, it is relatively easy to earn a return on investment. The popping process is simple. And with the Ready Series, there’s no time-consuming scooping. Customers enjoy the convenience of a self-serve dispenser, where they can fill their cups or bags with just the push of a button.
Get to Know the Ready Series
The Ready Series is designed with options for all kinds of venues, large and small.
- The ReadyPop® Jr. is an 8-oz popper, warming cabinet, and self-serve dispenser in one compact unit. It is ideal for smaller bars, convenience stores, auto dealerships, or other retail and foodservice locations. It holds up to 11 gallons of popcorn.
- The next step up is the ReadyPop®. Equipped with a 16-oz popper, it can handle higher volumes for busy grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, etc. It can hold as much as 20 gallons of popcorn.
- For the largest locations, the ReadyServe® has dual self-serve dispensers. Holding up to 75 gallons of popcorn, it can accommodate large crowds at stadiums, arenas, and cinemas.
Future plans for 2023 include the official rollout of cashless models of the ReadyPop, ReadyServe One, and ReadyServe. The cashless units will be equipped with a Nayax programmable payment system with a card reader to collect payment. These standalone units allow customers to fully serve themselves.
Self-Serve Popcorn Vending Machines are Getting Results
Gourmet popcorn shop, Nuts on Clark is proud to have the first ReadyServe cashless machines in an airport. Nuts on Clark is a woman-owned, third-generation family-run company. In business for over 40 years, they have a long history in the popcorn business. In addition to their corporate location on Clark Street, Nuts on Clark can also be found at O’Hare Airport, Midway Airport, Union Station, and Soldier Field as sponsors of the Chicago Bears. In addition, they’ve expanded into grocery stores with branded kiosks in Albertsons and Safeway. With that said, their presence in the popcorn industry is well-known and respected.
Nuts on Clark uses vending machines in airports for chocolate and nuts. So, when they were introduced to the ReadyServe, they saw it as a natural fit for their popcorn products. The timing coincided with COVID-19 and offered a way to serve products safely with less human contact. They placed the machines at O’Hare Airport and Midway Airport in Chicago. The machines can dispense both traditional buttered popcorn or the Nuts on Clark original caramelcorn and cheesecorn mix.
How has the customer response been? “The response has been overwhelmingly great,” shared Robert Kenney, director of sales for Nuts on Clark. “People love the ability to get fresh Nuts on Clark popcorn from a machine. The machine is the first of its kind to ever be in any airport and attracts a lot of attention from travelers because of how unique it is.” (See the customer-made TikTok video of the Nuts on Clark machine that has over 300,000 views.)
As pioneers in the popcorn vending machine business, Nuts on Clark has future plans to expand to other venues across the nation.
Advantages of the Ready Series
When operators want to save on labor and offer customers convenience, the solution is the Ready Series.
- Popcorn is highly profitable with margins as high as 70%+.
- The popping process requires minimal labor.
- There’s no scooping, customers simply fill their cups or bags with just the push of a button.
- Self-serve dispensing is more sanitary than other options.
- The cashless machines have the capability to operate unattended.
- A popcorn dispenser is a fresh and unique experience that guests will enjoy.
Proud History in Vending Innovation
Did you know that there’s a history behind popcorn vending machines? In the 1960s and 1970s, Gold Medal produced coin-operated popcorn vending machines. The 310 Automatic Popcorn Vending Machine featured a coin accepter, an automatic cup dispenser, a tilting popcorn hopper for filling, and viewing windows to gauge the popcorn levels. Once payment was accepted, a popcorn cup is dropped, and a rotating shuttle directs the popcorn to the dispenser. It was an impressive innovation, even by today’s standards. The line also continued into other vending markets including peanuts, laundry detergent, and candy vending machines.
Gold Medal’s rich heritage helps fuel the development of products for today’s marketplace, like the Ready Series popcorn dispensers. Gold Medal takes pride in being the past, present, and future of concession food equipment.
Are you interested in learning more about the Ready Series? Go to our popcorn vending machine page for more details on the machines that are the foundation of the lineup. To schedule a demo, get connected with one of our concession specialists. For the future of popcorn, rely on Gold Medal and follow us on Facebook for the latest developments.