By the time, the program commenced, there were more than 300 people crowded into the Intercontinental Hotel’s Renaissance Room. This year’s nominees for Candy Industry’s 64th Kettle Award hadn’t merely drawn their own supporters to the annual reception held during the All Candy Expo in Chicago; candy makers from all parts of the country had shown up, curious as to who would receive the copper kettle on May 20.
Given the lineup – Scott Albanese, president of Albanese Confectionery Group, Inc.; Mike Bianco, vice president of plant operations, Jelly Belly Candy Co.; Melvin Gordon, chairman of Tootsie Roll Industries; and Taz Murray, president and ceo of Dynamic Confections, Inc. – it was unclear how this year’s balloting would swing.
As Committee Vice Chairman Chuck Phelan of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate walked over to Chairman Lee Hartman of Printpack with the envelope, a hush settled over the crowd. One could even hear the tearing of the envelope as Hartman took out the card nestled inside and then read the name, “Melvin Gordon of Tootsie Roll Industries.”
In acknowledging his wife, Ellen, a Kettle recipient from 1985, as well as thanking company executives and employees, suppliers and supporters, Gordon reflected on the joys of working in the confectionery industry. Indeed, it was a sentiment unabashedly shared by all in attendance.
*More photos from this year's Kettle Reception will be available in the coming weeks on www.kettleawards.com.