Food for thought: Our annual honors for those who cooked up something new

It’s always uncertain where a fork in the road may lead, but a fork in the concourse generally means a concession stand is nearby. That’s good news for hungry fans, who have come to expect far more than a hot dog served with ketchup packets or a beer just like the six they have in the fridge at home.

Innovators in the industry work tirelessly to keep up with demand by creating new products, opening more inviting spaces and improving processes. Their work keeps us thinking about what will come next, and each October we honor some of the best for their ingenuity with the Excellence in Concessions Awards.

Readers created the nominee list for the five awards this year, and the VenuesNow editorial staff selected the winners. Reading the nominations was great fun, but you can rest assured that once the tech industry can supply all of us with “Star Trek”-style transporters, judging the Best New Menu Item category will be more enjoyable than ever.

But back to the present. Enjoy reading about this year’s winners, and bon appétit! 

ON THE MENU:

New Menu Item: Red chile cotton candy ignites a ballpark hit
New Concept: Connecting the fans with the right brands
New/Refurbished Space: Aiming high, all the way to the rooftop
New Technology: Breaking the bar code with artificial intelligence
Sustainability Initiative: Partnerships enhance greening of SunTrust Park