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20 Great Beverages


As convenience-store operators improve their foodservice programs, they’ve also created a heightened consumer expectation for beverage quality and variety. The result is a cycle of menu innovation and guest demand that keeps the industry evolving.

What follows are 20 retail and restaurant beverage offerings that pinpoint today’s trends, and insights on why they are such hot commodities.

Former Thorntons Exec Launches Development Firm


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Eric Zoph, a former Thorntons Inc. construction executive, has launched BMZ Development Group LLC, a new business for customers in retail design and development, particularly for the convenience-store industry.

BMZ covers the “full cycle” of store development, referring to every step of the building and development process, from site and store layout and optimization to construction and project turnover.

Zoph has 25 years of experience in site selection and store design, as well as permitting, zoning and construction. The team at BMZ can offer best practices for those seeking to improve their store design and development process, he said.

“Eric Zoph, the founder of BMZ, and his team are dedicated talented professionals who have a real passion for design and development,” said Matt Thornton, CEO of convenience-store chain Thorntons. “They understand the dynamics and complexities of retail real-estate development from start to finish. I would highly recommend Eric for organizations interested in growing and/or branding their retail portfolios.”

How can retailers build their stores in a manner that best personifies a brand that customers will recognize and appreciate? Zoph said the answer starts with developing brand standards and a laser focus on design.

Louisville, Ky.-based BMZ Development Group uses the “Iron Triangle” of quality, cost and time as a driving principle to help retailers build their stores in a manner that best personifies a brand that customers will recognize and appreciate, he said.

Photo courtesy of BMZ Development Group. 

Jackson Lewis

Ocean Petroleum Divests Dealer Supply Business


BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Ocean Petroleum Inc. has divested its entire branded and unbranded dealer supply business as part of a strategic business reorganization. Included in its sale to United Fuel, Stockbridge, Ga., are both CITGO and Valero dealer supply relationships in southeastern Georgia.

The sale allows marketer United Fuel to further expand its established CITGO and Valero dealer network and extend southward in the Georgia market. “This new acquisition adds another piece to our long-term dealer business growth strategy. We look forward to serving these new customers and delivering the same level of support that they enjoyed over the years with Ocean Petroleum,” said Bunty Doshi, president of United Fuel.

Rethinking the Business

Established in 1973 in Macon, Ga., as OSAN Petroleum by Walter and Jack Oswald, the business expanded into Brunswick, Jesup and Nahunta, Ga. In 2008, the Brunswick operation converted to Ocean Petroleum and is managed by Ashley Oswald Davis.

“After conducting a comprehensive business assessment in the summer of last year, we determined that our primary focus should be on the commercial side of our business. From this assessment, we created and implemented a strategic reorganization plan that included the divestiture of our dealer business,” said Davis. “We look forward to receiving our official designation as a women-owned small business and are confident that continued implementation of our focused plan will help ensure that our business successfully transcends to another generation of our family.”

Growing United

This transaction marks the second dealer supply business acquisition for United Fuel in the past 60 days. In April, the company purchased the branded and unbranded dealer supply business of CITGO- and Valero-branded marketer Jerry’s Oil Co. Inc.

PetroActive Real Estate Services LLC, Coral Gables, Fla., provided confidential advisory services to Ocean Petroleum for both its strategic plan development and for the divestiture of the dealer business.

“The downstream oil business has become so competitive that traditional marketers need to pragmatically assess their businesses to determine their core competencies, then focus their attention and resources to grow that part of the business. Ashley did this with her company and is successfully working her plan. Ocean is now in a better position to succeed,” said Mark Radosevich, president of PetroActive Services.

“My firm has been tasked with the challenge of helping United Fuel grow its dealer supply business,” said Mark Purtee, a representative of Murphy Business and Financial Services LLC, which provided advisory services to United Fuel for this transaction. “We realized from the beginning that the Ocean Petroleum opportunity fit their plans perfectly.”

Frank Callaway provided legal representation to Ocean Petroleum and closed the transaction. His firm is based in Atlanta and specializes in downstream petroleum distribution and real-estate transactions.

Greg Lindenberg

Howard Schultz to Exit Starbucks


SEATTLE — Howard Schultz is leaving Starbucks at the end of the month to explore a career in public service or philanthropy, among other options, ending a four-decade tenure that took the coffee concept from a virtual unknown to one of the industry’s most dominant and influential powers.

The announcement, which Schultz made in a memo to employees, has stoked speculation that the Starbucks chairman will run for the presidency of the United States. Schultz has not commented on that speculation.

Myron Ullman, former chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney, will succeed Schultz as chairman of Starbucks. Schultz will assume the honorary title of chairman emeritus on June 26.

Schultz’s departure will cap a rags-to-riches story that began in the housing projects of Brooklyn, where the young New Yorker witnessed his family’s decline into poverty because an injury ended his father’s job as a diaper-service deliveryman. As Schultz recalled in his best-selling autobiography, he vowed to build an organization that would never allow such a turn of events.

He saw his shot while selling wholesale coffee carafes. Sizable orders were coming from a coffee outlet in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Schultz decided to visit the customer, a stall called Starbucks.

A year later, he became the chain’s director of operations and marketing.

Schultz later purchased the company, after being rebuffed in his efforts to acquire control of the competing Peet’s Coffee chain, and was CEO from 1987 to 2000. He turned Starbucks into one of the industry’s most progressive employers and operators, breaking convention with advances such as offering health insurance to all employees, and suggesting customers view units as their “third place” hangout.

In 2008, he took back the CEO job because of concerns the concept was straying from its roots as a celebration of all things coffee. He immediately scuttled a line of breakfast sandwiches, saying they smelled up the stores, and lowered pieces of equipment because they blocked customers’ views of baristas practicing their art.

He also shut every store for several hours for a coffee-making training session in 2008, foreshadowing last week’s chainwide closure to re-emphasize the chain’s commitment to diversity.

Schultz surrendered the CEO title again in 2017 to current chief Kevin Johnson to become executive chairman.

Along the way, Schultz took an active interest in public affairs, commenting on race relations, drawing team members into formal discussions of diversity, and publicly voicing his opinions on political matters. His actions led to speculation that he would jump into the 2016 presidential race as a last-minute alternative to Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.

Schultz dashed those reports, and he has similarly downplayed speculation that he still might make a run for the office now held by Donald Trump, another New York-born billionaire, whose policies he has pointedly criticized.

“For years I’ve had a dream to build a different kind of company, one that has the potential to enhance lives and endure long after I was gone,” Schultz wrote to employees. “Thanks to you, my dream has come true.”

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

CSP Staff

Association Names Best New Products in Candy and Snacks


CHICAGO — More than 300 new products were submitted for the National Confectioners Association’s 2018 Most Innovative New Product Awards, and the winners were announced May 22 during the 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.

The awards—sponsored by data research firm IRI—recognize the best and most innovative introductions in snacks and candy in nine categories: gum and mints; novelty and licensed; seasonal; sweet snacks; salty snacks; savory snacks; nonchocolate; gourmet and premium; and chocolate. Products are judged on innovation, taste, packaging and go-to-market ability. A Best in Show award was also given.

“Historically, innovation has driven about 7% of the growth in confections,” said Larry Levin, executive vice president of consumer and shopper marketing for IRI, Chicago. “New products spark excitement for the consumer and generate more opportunities for treating.”

The winners and nominees in each category were:

Gums and Mints


  • Cool Tropical Tic Tac Gum from Ferrero USA Inc. One pack contains 56 pieces of sugar-free gum.


  • Mentos CleanBreath, Perfetti Van Melle USA Inc.
  • Juicy Fruit Gum Collisions Strawberry Watermelon, Mars Wrigley Confectionery
  • Ice Breakers Deep Freeze Peppermint, The Hershey Co.
  • Cleanse gum, Simply Gum



  • Golden Heart for You & Me from Ferrero. The product features a hollow milk chocolate and hazelnut heart with two Ferrero Rocher candies inside. 


  • Big Chewy Nerds Reindeer Stocking Hanger, Nestle USA
  • Jelly Belly Love Beans Valentine’s Gift Box, Jelly Belly Candy Co.
  • Mars Wrigley Chocolate Variety mix party bowl, Mars Wrigley Confectionery
  • Hershey’s Kisses Hot Cocoa, The Hershey Co.

Novelty and Licensed


  • Warheads Dippin’ Rings from Impact Confections Inc. The product contains a ring pop and sour candy powder for dipping. Two varieties are available: blue raspberry pop with sour green apple powder and sweet watermelon pop with sour blue raspberry powder.


  • Frozen and Jurassic World Limited Editions, Ferrero USA Inc.
  • Baby Bottle Popping Powder, Bazooka Candy Brands, a division of The Topps Co.
  • Pez Jurassic World Click & Play Gift Tin, Pez Candy Inc.
  • Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme Doughnut Tin, Jelly Belly Candy Co.

Sweet Snacks


  • Organic White Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups from Justin’s. The individually wrapped mini cups come in a 4.7-ounce bag.


  • Cinnamon Crumb Cake Thins, That’s How We Roll
  • Cookie Butter Snappers, Edward Marc Brands Inc.
  • Spicy Mangos, Vidal Candies USA Inc.
  • Superfruit Mix, Promotion in Motion

Salty Snacks


  • Tangerine Vanilla Cashew-Macadamia Glazed Mix from Sahale Snacks. The mix contains cashews, macadamia nuts, dried mango, tangerine and pure ground Madagascar vanilla bean.


  • Cauliflower Pretzel Sticks, From the Ground Up
  • Butterfinger, Perfect Snax
  • Salt and Pepper Veggie Pops, Made in Nature LLC
  • Blackberry Habanero Oven Baked Pork Rinds, Rudolph Foods Co. Inc.

Savory Snacks


  • Crispy Trail Mix Crackers from Alli & Rose. The crackers are made with mung beans, cashews, raisins, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. An 8.2-ounce bag contains 20 individual packs, with 60 calories per pack.


  • Bacon and Eggs, Cheesewich Factory
  • Cheez-It Duoz Caramel Popcorn & Cheddar, The Kellogg Co.
  • High Protein Chips, Land O’Frost
  • Baked Cheddar Protein Crisps, Clever Cookie

Gourmet and Premium


  • ParmCrisps Trios in Original from That’s How We Roll. This variety contains Cheese ParmCrisps, almonds, pumpkin seeds, apricots and craisins. Other varieties include Mediterranean and Tropical.


  • Ravishing Rocky Road Joy-Filled Caramels, Chuao Chocolatier
  • Native Andean Potato Chip Mix, KIWA
  • Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Marshmallows, Hammond’s Brands
  • Dove Chocolate cashews dipped in milk chocolate, Mars Wrigley Confectionery



  • Hershey’s Gold standard bar form The Hershey Co. The bar contains caramelized cream and salty peanut and pretzel bits.


  • Junior Mint Minis, Tootsie Roll Industries Inc.
  • Seattle Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Truffle Bar, Seattle Chocolate
  • Football FANtasy, R.M. Palmer Co.
  • Coconut Melts Freeze-Dried & Immersed in Dark Chocolate, Tru Fru LLC



  • Big Chewy Nerds from Nestle USA/Ferrara Candy Co. The supersized Nerds are both crunchy and chewy with no artificial flavors.


  • Sour Brite Sneaks, Ferrara Candy Co.
  • Jolly Rancher Misfits, The Hershey Co.
  • Hotheads Scorching Heat Twists, Impact Confections Inc.
  • Vanilla Caramel Marshmallow, Hammond’s Brands

Best in Show

Cake Delights in Double Chocolate from Hostess Brands. Cake Delights are part of Hostess’ Bakery Petites line of hand-crafted, poppable bakery treats. These cream-filled cake balls also come in White Fudge Vanilla.

Kristina Peters

Mirabito Upgrades Loyalty Program With ZipLine


BINGHAMPTON, N.Y. — Mirabito, a convenience-store chain in central New York state, has tapped ZipLine to enhance and market its payment-powered loyalty program, Mirabito Rewards Plus Debit.

Mirabito Rewards Plus Debit is an upgrade to Mirabito Rewards Plus that offers customers an interest-free debit card combined with discounts at the pump.

ZipLine, a provider of custom payment and rewards-driven loyalty programs to the retail industry, worked with Mirabito to make the program easier for customers to use and to simplify messaging so the benefits to enrolling and upgrading are clearer.

The program, relaunched in May 2018, combines fuel and in-store savings with the ability to pay using a Mirabito rewards card. Instant activation is also a new part of the enrollment process.

“Thanks to ZipLine’s consumer engagement team, we were able to pinpoint what our customers are looking for in a rewards program and package it in a manner they would understand and value. We’re already seeing a very positive response,” said Joe Mirabito, president and CEO.

In addition to conducting consumer research and developing the program, ZipLine created a marketing campaign to drive awareness, enrollment and usage. This included a suite of marketing materials, direct mail, a social-media campaign, pay-per-click advertising and more.

The enrollment website was redesigned to create a smoother consumer experience, presenting program benefits more clearly to help grow the membership base. ZipLine is also providing training and ongoing support to Mirabito employees at all of its 100-plus locations.

Going forward, the ZipLine consumer engagement team will continue to analyze shopper insight, behavior and purchase data gathered through the rewards program to better understand the Mirabito customer and provide timely and relevant offers to customers.

The Mirabito Cos., based in Binghampton, N.Y., operates in eight states with multiple divisions, including natural gas and electric, home energy products and services, wholesale energy products and services, convenience stores, and truck repair. It ranked No. 62 on CSP’s 2017 Top 202 list of the largest c-store chains in the United States.

Portland, Maine-based ZipLine provides branded payment and rewards-driven loyalty programs to retailers in the United States.

Jackson Lewis

Mars Debuts 3 New Snickers Flavors


MCLEAN, Va. — Mars Inc.’s Snickers brand has launched three new limited-time-only (LTO) candy varieties as part of its “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign.

Available now to retailers nationwide, the new flavors include Espresso, Fiery and Salty & Sweet. Each bar is made with peanuts, caramel, milk chocolate and an infusion of either espresso, chili pepper or salt. Each flavor is intended to correspond to the hunger symptom on its packaging: irritable for Espresso, wimpy for Fiery and indecisive for Salty & Sweet.

As part of the campaign, Snickers will open a pop-up store, called the Hunger Bunker, in New York on June 19. It will feature escape room-style challenges related to each of the three new flavors. The challenges focus on one question: Which intense flavor is needed to survive intense hunger? Once the challenges are completed, participants will receive a “flavor diagnosis” that identifies which flavor they ultimately need to fight their hunger.

“Our fans have adventurous tastes and are craving new flavors and experiences,” said Michael Italia, senior brand manager for Snickers. “We feel the Snickers Hunger Bunker is a unique way to highlight the intensity of our new flavors and give our fans a satisfying experience.”

Snickers will also launch a new marketing campaign alongside the new flavors. Besides the Hunger Bunker, this will feature in-store promotions; TV, print and online video advertisements; and an in-app biometrics experience with Spotify and Coffee Labs.

McLean, Va.-based Mars Inc. is a global manufacturer with more than $35 billion in sales. Besides Snickers, its brands include M&M’s, Dove, Milky Way, Twix, Doublemint, Skittles and Orbit.

Brett Dworski

Tyson Sells Sara Lee Brand to Private-Equity Firm


SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Tyson Foods Inc. said on June 1 it will sell its Sara Lee Frozen Bakery and Van’s brands to private-equity firm Kohlberg & Co. Inc. for an undisclosed amount. The company first put the brands up for sale more than a year go to focus on core brands such as Tyson, Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm.

Kohlberg will acquire Tyson Foods’ Chef Pierre, Bistro Collection and Van’s brands, as well as a license to use the Sara Lee label in various channels. The deal also includes Tyson Foods’ prepared foods facilities in Tarboro, N.C., and Traverse City, Mich., and a sales office in Canada.

“These are great assets with outstanding team members; however, we’re focused on expanding Tyson Foods’ leadership position in protein,” said Sally Grimes, group president of prepared foods of Tyson Foods. “We believe these brands and facilities will do well as part of Kohlberg, which has extensive experience buying and growing businesses.”

C.J. Fraleigh, a consumer products professional and former CEO of Sara Lee-North America, will join Kohlberg as executive chairman at the deal’s closing.

“With established and iconic brands, including Sara LeeChef PierreBistro Collection and Van’s, this business is well-positioned to continue its historical growth trajectory,” said Fraleigh. “I look forward to working with the company’s employees to execute on growth opportunities we’ve identified and continue providing customers with excellent service, innovation and consistently high-quality products.”

This marks Tyson Foods’ first structural change of 2018. Last year, the company acquired ready-to-eat meal company AdvancePierre Food Holdings Inc.and cheese steak producer Philly Holdings Inc. in April and November, respectively.

Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods produces, markets and exports chicken, beef and pork. Its brands include Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, Wright, Aidells and State Fair. The company was founded in 1935.

Kohlberg & Co. is a private equity firm headquartered in Mount Kisco, N.Y. The 31-year-old company has eight private-equity funds, through which it has raised $7.5 billion of committed equity capital.

Brett Dworski

Irving Oil Ownership Shake-Up


SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick, and PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — The Arthur Irving Family Trust has completed a transaction with the Jack Irving family in which the Arthur Irving trust has assumed full ownership of Canadian and U.S. refiner-marketer Irving Oil, the company has announced. This includes the company’s more than 900 convenience stores in Canada and the U.S.

Irving Oil’s board of directors and leadership team, including President Ian Whitcomb and Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Sarah Irving, will continue to execute the company’s established business plan and lead the strategic direction of the company, it said.

“Today is an important day for the future of our company,” said Arthur Irving, chairman of Irving Oil. “Irving Oil was started in 1924 by my father, K.C. Irving, and has grown to be a market leader. We are very proud of our company and the people who work with us. We are all looking forward to working together for the continued success of our business.”

The buyout represents a major change in the corporate holdings of New Brunswick’s wealthiest family, according to a CBC report.

It is the latest step in the dividing up of what was once a single conglomerate built by family patriarch K.C. Irving. More than a decade ago, his three sons, J.K., Arthur and Jack, agreed to divide up the dozens of Irving companies among themselves, ending a web of cross-ownership. J.K. Irving’s family gained complete ownership of the J.D. Irving Ltd. forestry and shipbuilding operations that it had managed, while Arthur was given control of Irving Oil, with a sizable stake in the company going to Jack.

Irving Oil, with Canadian headquarters in Saint John, New Brunswick, and U.S. headquarters in Portsmouth, N.H., operates a refinery in Saint John. It also operates Ireland’s only refinery. With a network of terminals in eastern Canada, New England and Ireland, it provides unbranded wholesale customers with gasoline, diesel, kerosene and heating oil.

More than 900 gas stations, convenience stores and travel plazas in eastern Canada and New England carry the Irving brand, including more than 335 in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.

Greg Lindenberg

Parker’s Rolls Out Tiered Rewards Program


SAVANNAH, Ga. — Convenience-store retailer Parker’s has activated Parker’s Rewards, a loyalty program for customers focusing on fuel discounts, rewards and exclusive promotions.

The Parker’s Rewards program allows customers to earn loyalty rewards when they purchase select in-store items, from fresh coffee to hand-breaded Southern fried chicken tenders. In addition, exclusive loyalty-program discounts will rotate throughout the year, including 69-cent fountain drinks throughout the month of June, for example.

“Parker’s customers have high expectations, so we decided to develop the most robust convenience-store loyalty program in the region by listening to what our customers want and making it a reality,” said Greg Parker, Parker’s president and CEO. “Our new loyalty program will strengthen our relationships with customers, offer exclusive discounts on the items they love and reward them for their dedication to the Parker’s brand.”

One of the primary Parker’s Rewards program benefits is tiered discounts on gasoline. The discounts are based on customer spending inside the store for the previous month. Depending upon monthly in-store spending, loyalty program customers will be automatically upgraded to Platinum, Gold or Blue status, earning fuel discounts of up to 20 cents per gallon.

“The more you spend, the more you save,” said Jeff Bush, chief operating officer of Parker’s. “We want to reward our customers for their loyalty with deeper fuel discounts.”

Customers can enroll for Parker’s Rewards online at or download the free Parker’s mobile app, which allows for tracking of rewards status and payment at the register and the pump. Once a customer is enrolled in the program, discounts are automatically applied. Parker’s Rewards customers can see which level of fuel discounts they qualify for in any given month and how close they are to achieving Platinum, Gold or Blue status.

The Parker’s Rewards loyalty program has no membership fees, offers PIN authorization with every transaction and works at all Parker’s locations in Georgia and South Carolina.

Savannah, Ga.-based Parker’s has 53 retail stores throughout southeast Georgia and South Carolina.

Photo courtesy of Parker’s.

Jackson Lewis

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Vendor Application


Toll Free: 888-662-7780

Here at AATAC we are always looking for companies that may enhance our member’s businesses and better the industry as a whole. If you are interested in becoming a preferred vendor within our network please fill out this information form.

Send info and materials to our receivables office:

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Answer the Question of the Day by filling in the information below and send it to us for your chance to win the prizes and exclusive discounts offered only to our members!



Located on the front page of our national website is a field called “Question Of The Day” (QOD). Each day we post a different question about the products and services that are presented through our website. The answer to this question can be found on one of our partner’s web pages. Our members will navigate through the preferred vendors page to find the answer to your question while subconsciously educating themselves about your company! AATAC effectively selects members who answer the question correctly to win rewards which include; rebates, complimentary services, cash, promotional offers from vendors, prizes, giveaways, etc. *Your QOD should be 1-2 sentences in length and can not name a specific product or company within the question. 

Here are some examples:

Which preferred vendor offers your customers a 99% accurate drug test that reads results in five minutes?  

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Your Vendor Category

When your logo and redirect are added to our preferred vendors catalog it offers two very important elements to members:

  1. It tells them that your company has been vetted and approved for business within our network. 
  2. It encourages them to visit your website where they can learn more about your company.