Bert Nathan Memorial Award: Dan Kroeger

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If you've ever eaten popcorn, cotton candy or hot dogs at a movie theater, there's a good chance your treat was popped, puffed or parboiled by a Gold Medal Products concessions machine. This year's Bert Nathan Memorial Award, which recognizes leadership and accomplishment in theatrical concessions, goes to Gold Medal president Dan Kroeger, who recently discussed the snack business with The Hollywood Reporter's Chris Edling.

The Hollywood Reporter:
How did you arrive at Gold Medal?
Dan Kroeger: I answered an ad in a newspaper for an assistant zone manager back in 1979. I was very fortunate to interview with J.C. Evans, one of the founder's sons. I was taken with J.C.'s enthusiasm for the industry and knew this was the place I wanted to work. I worked up to zone manager, then national sales manager, then vp of sales and finally president in 1991.

THR: Gold Medal has been around for more than 75 years. To what do you attribute the company's staying power?
Kroeger: We're very passionate about what we do. I think this passion was instilled by the founder, David C. Evans, and has continued through three generations of the Evans family. Plus, the feeling that we're never satisfied. We're always trying to be the innovator.

THR: Is it difficult to innovate or improve on classic fare like popcorn and hot dogs?
Kroeger: Well, we're not just an equipment manufacturer. We also manufacture a number of flavor products. For example, we have a new "BB" ("Better Butter" flavor) popcorn salt, and we have also recently come out with a butter-flavored salt that has 50% less sodium.

THR: How does Gold Medal cater to emerging high-end movie venues?
Kroeger: High-end venues don't want just a standard popcorn machine, they want something special. Some are looking for improved air-filtration systems, which we have. We also manufacture a line of caramel-corn equipment and cheese-corn equipment, which fits into that high-end venue.

THR: Tell us about your relationship with the National Association of Concessionaires, which gives this award every year at ShoWest.
Kroeger: Gold Medal has been a member since 1955, which was the first year that allied members were allowed to join the association. As far as I know, NAC is the only association that caters specifically to the concessions industry, so it's a natural fit for us.
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