In the midst of the Great Depression in 1931, founder Dave Evans borrowed $2,000 on his home to purchase Kings Ink,the company that would eventually grow to become Gold Medal Products Co.
Gold Medal's Early Years
The first food product sold under the Gold Medal name was a drink concentrate.
Dave hired his first employee, Leo Ehrhart, at $5.00 per week in 1933. At the urging of Dave's brother, Walter, thecompany began to sell larger sizes of drink concentrate flavors to the carnival and amusement park industry.
Then, Gold Medal's Pearl Street location was devastated by The Great Flood of 1937. The flooding destroyed the firstand second floors. But within a month, Dave had secured $300 to keep Gold Medal operating.
Gold Medal continued to grow in the concession industry by selling ice shaving machines, Sno-Kone® cups, crockery syrupdispensers, popcorn supplies, and popcorn popping machines.
An Industry Innovator
The ice shaving business continued to grow into the 1940s.
More diversification came with the purchase of the "Karmel Krisp" company. Gold Medal began manufacturing caramel cornpatties for distribution to local confectionaries.
During the WWII era, navigating the sugar quotas became a challenge. However, Gold Medal responded with innovationand was able to introduce an alternative to cola syrup called Klix Kola Syrup, which was widely sold to drug storesoda fountains. The sugar rations also resulted in further growth for popcorn, as it was introduced as the movie theatersnack of choice.
Gold Medal grew and moved from Pearl Street to a 10,000-square foot facility on Third Street.
The company produced its first catalog in 1945.
In 1948, Gold Medal started to manufacture its first complete Sno-Kone® machine.
Then in 1949, the company introduced the first 6-oz. kettle popper, the Pop-A-Lot, and the no-vibration Whirlwind CottonCandy Machine. Industry innovation was giving Gold Medal a strong reputation.
Positioned for Success
As drive-in theaters grew in the 50s, so did the opportunities for Gold Medal. The presence of Sno-Kones® at nearlyall drive-in concession stands improved the company’s image.
Gold Medal was also growing its dealer network, with more than 35 distributors
In 1951, the first machine-made cotton candy paper cone was patented, making anyone in the cotton candy business acustomer of Gold Medal.
With continued growth in mind, the company began renting additional space in the Third Street facility, plus an additionalfloor in the Heskamp Building.
The Pop-A-Lot was re-engineered, and new introductions included the Whiz Bang Popcorn Machine, the Sno Matic Ice Shaver,and the cast-aluminum Whirlwind Cotton Candy Machine.
It didn't take long before the company set its sights on a larger location and moved to a 92,000-square-foot facilityon Freeman Avenue in 1959. The company was well positioned for success with its people, products, and production capabilities.
Advancing Toward the Future
It was 1960 when Dave Evans retired and the business continued to flourish under the leadership of his sons, DavidBruce and J.C.
Abiding by the demands of the era, Gold Medal entered coin vending machine production. Coin-operated soap, coffee,candy, and other types of vending machines proved to be an unlikely success story, with thousands of machines sold.
The company continued to invest in its dealer network by beginning the annual tradition of the Gold Medal Distributors'Conference, which still takes place today.
Slush drinks became a blossoming trend for the company.
Product line expansions continued, particularly in the popcorn category. New innovations came for both smaller, inexpensivemodels and those that were capable of more heavy-duty production.
Gold Medal was instrumental in establishing the signature antique design with filigree that became an iconic emblemfor classic popcorn style.
Leading the Way
The 1970s ushered in an era of growth and development for Gold Medal's flavor department. The need for expansion becameapparent and the company began leasing additional space.
International growth was sparked with the addition of distributors in Sweden, Germany, and Denmark.
Further investments in marketing led to the company's first full-color catalog in 1972.
Popcorn and cotton candy lines continued to grow with the addition of the Antique Pinto Pop and the Econo Floss. Thevending machines that were popular in the 1960s began to fade and Gold Medal began to focus its efforts even more directlyon concession equipment and supplies.
As the dealer network continued to grow, Gold Medal opened its first two branch locations: Chicago in 1975 and Pittsburghin 1979.
Establishing its position as the industry leader, Gold Medal started to offer concession seminar events/open houses,where customers could see live demonstrations and learn about all the product lines.
Sparking Gourmet Popcorn Growth with Glaze Pop®
Throughout these years, Bruce and J.C.'s children began to work at Gold Medal.
Finding success with its branch locations, Gold Medal added new locations in Orlando and North Carolina.
Gourmet popcorn began to take off and Gold Medal was there to lead the way. Bruce Evans, Gold Medal's President andflavor chemist, invented Glaze Pop®, a unique product that allowed a candy-coated flavoring to be added straight intothe kettle.
The company also built up a new product line for bakers, making donuts, Belgian waffles, and waffle cones for ice cream shops.
Popcorn, cotton candy, and Sno-Kones® continued to do well. And the company ramped up its production capacity whenit expanded its headquarters to a facility on Dalton Avenue, while the first-class machine shop and sheet metal shopon Freeman enhanced its manufacturing capabilities. The company set its sights on achieving record sales.
An Inspiring Family Business
In a sad and tragic turn of events in 1991, Bruce Evans passed away suddenly. Sales Vice President, Dan Kroeger wasthen appointed to fulfill the role of President, under the guidance and supervision of J.C. Evans as Chairman.
The Evans family (Dave Evans, Nancy Evans, Sally Evans Lloyd, John Evans, and Doug Evans) remained in active rolesand ownership of the company. Together, they would lead Gold Medal into a time period of engineering excellence.
Technological advancements brought the “Big Eye” electronic heat control poppers, plus the convenienceof Flexipop®, and electronic versions of the baker line.
Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Tennessee joined the line-up of branch locations, increasing the company's service abilities.
In 1997, Gold Medal marked a significant accomplishment by building its world headquarters, a 326,000-square-foot facilityin Evendale, Ohio. From here, product innovations and improvements would continue.
New Events & Opportunities
With a structured approach to product development, Gold Medal introduced the PopClean® line, allowing the company tobetter serve the needs of large-venue customers.
Other innovations included: the new energy-efficient Super Pop Maxx kettle, EcoSelect™ popcorn bags, and the DeluxeShav-A-Doo.
Gold Medal's National Caramel Corn Day was launched as an annual event to educate operators about the opportunities,equipment, and profit potential of gourmet popcorn.
Further expansion of the branches allowed Gold Medal to enter the following markets: Columbus, OH; Jacksonville, FL;and Tampa, FL.
With expanding reach and increased sales potential, the company added on 80,000 square feet to its headquarters onMedallion Drive.
The family tradition continued as Bruce and J.C.'s grandchildren started to enter the business, including Megan Evans,Kayla Evans, and Rachel Gibson.
Passing the Torch
Bolstered by a mix of creativity and strategy, Gold Medal invested into its established product lines with fresh, newideas. Funnel cakes found new life with Funnel Fingers™; Saratoga Swirls® gave a twist to potatoes, and the polarbear Polar Pete became the fun and friendly face for Sno-Kones®.
The company introduced the only UL and UL Sanitation Listed Floss Machines on the market.
Gourmet popcorn emerged as one of the fastest-growing markets and Gold Medal rose to the occasion with state-of-the-artequipment offerings and a collection of flavor options.
New branch locations were added to serve: Central Illinois, Colorado, Georgia, and Minneapolis.
Growth at the headquarters also continued, resulting in multiple expansions, with facilities now totaling almost 500,000square feet.
Dan Kroeger retired from his position as President, yet remains an active leader in the role of CEO/Chairman.
Gold Medal entered a new era of growth and development as Adam Browning assumed the position of President in 2017.Now, the third generation of the Evans family leads the company (Dave Evans and his wife, Jackie; and Nancy Evans)with the fourth generation (Megan Evans and David Evans [children of Dave and Jackie Evans] working alongside as well.
The company's performance continues to be impressive, nearly doubling in sales in the past 10 years. Gold Medal currentlyhas a strong network of over 300 dealers, employs more than 350 people at 16 locations, and remains a key influencer in shapingthe future of the industry.