11 Vital Products for Cold Winter Days

hot chocolate

As Pat Determan, owner of Lyons Filling Station in Clinton, Iowa, prepares to ramp up his outdoor lunch-time grilling program in late March, he has some unfinished winter business to attend to. This includes pushing volume of certain core items across the store that get his customers through the dog days of winter.

When asked about the top velocity driver during the winter months, the Phillips-branded convenience-store retailer doesn’t hesitate: “Hot chocolate. It’s huge. On average we sell one [bag-in-box] of Nestle-branded dark hot chocolate, which translates to about 30 to 40 dispensed cups, a day. My Ronnoco coffee-program distributor is nice enough to let us use the (leased) cappuccino machine to dispense hot chocolate part of each day,” says Determan.

The operator also singled out other winter favorites in his 2,800-square-foot store: Big Train Raspberry Chai Tea from Kerry Foodservice, and Broaster and Brakebush Brothers chicken programs.

On the proprietary side, selling out regularly at his Det’s Diner foodservice program are Take N Bake pizza—a chicken/white-garlic variety flashes brisk winter-time sales—homemade chili and chicken noodle soup from Heinz Quality Chef. “With the soup, we take leftover chicken, remove the skin and use it to prepare the soup, so it’s a great outlet for eliminating waste,” Determan says.

What follows are 14 must-have cold-weather products to help get customers to winter’s finish line.

1. Perfect Puree

perfect puree

The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley LLC’s Roasted Red Pepper puree serves as a gourmet base to soup such as cauliflower soup with roasted red pepper. Easy to prepare in one pot and packed with antioxidant vegetables, pureed soups boast a deep orange-red color and fire-roasted flavor, the company said. All flavors can be frozen for up to 24 months from date of manufacture. When thawed, purees and specialty soups last seven to 10 days in the refrigerator.

2. Ready Pac Foods

ready pac fresh prep soups

Ready Pac Foods Fresh Prep’d Soup Kits and Fresh Prep’d Wrap Kits are geared for consumers seeking a complete lunch. Prepared in minutes, the vegetable-packed meals are customizable, with each soup having 250 calories or less and 11 to 18 grams of protein. Each variety contains at least a half-cup of crisp, fresh vegetables. Never precooked, the products are available in five varieties: Chicken Tortilla, Vegetarian Tuscan White Bean, Asian Inspired Beef, Italian Style Wedding and Chicken Noodle; all available for an SRP of $4.99.

3. Keurig Green Mountain

no surrender coffee

Keurig Green Mountain Inc. offers Revv No Surrender, Afterburner and Turbocharger K-Cup pods. With Revv, operators can offer a series of rich and balanced, dark-roasted varieties loaded with the strongest coffee Revv could produce, the company said. From smooth No Surrender to rich Afterburner to robust Turbocharger, Revv has a new bold flavor for any coffee drinker looking for a boost, the company said.

4. Nissin Foods

nissin top ramen

With the rollout of Nissin Top Ramen, Nissin Foods responds to consumer demand for reduced sodium and fewer artificial ingredients, the company said. The updated product line removes MSG and artificial flavors and reduces sodium. To accompany the recipe update, Top Ramen unveiled modern product packaging, which now calls out its two vegetarian flavors, Soy Sauce (formerly called Oriental) and Chili.

5. Red Diamond

RDF gingerbread

Red Diamond Coffee & Tea rolled out additional seasonal offerings last autumn and into winter with flavors that include Gingerbread Caramel (freshly baked gingerbread cookie combined with lightly sweet caramel flavor) and Peppermint Mocha (rich and smooth with warm chocolate notes and a peppermint finish). All coffees are distinguished by superior new-crop beans from selections of the finest coffee estates in the world, the company says.

6. Nestle Professional

chefmate gravy

With a growing number of full-service restaurant customers indicating they would like breakfast served all day, Nestle Professional’s Chef-Mate Country Sausage Gravy is made with tender pork sausage and flavorful seasoning to deliver classic gravy flavor in a convenient heat-and-serve format. For a traditional take on biscuits and gravy, operators can serve biscuits with Chef-Mate Country Sausage Gravy, or for a biscuits and gravy-inspired sandwich, the Buttermilk Chicken Biscuit With Sausage Gravy can be added to the menu.

7. BirdShack

BirdShack logo

BirdShack recently formed a relationship with wholesale-distributor Core-Mark to capture chains and independent retailers seeking entrepreneurial ways to deliver an easy-to-prepare fried-chicken experience. BirdShack products are specially formulated with chicken that’s made fresh in-store and breaded with a secret family recipe, the company says. Asking no franchise fees or royalties of participating operators, the program offers custom-branded counters, menu boards, signage, uniforms, packaging and product.

8. Gehl’s

gehl's queso

Gehl’s Queso Blanco consists of a creamy white cheddar-cheese sauce accented with colorful jewels of red and green bell peppers, ancho chili pepper and jalapeno. The company suggests operators use the sauce to prepare anything from a cheese dog to nachos. All Gehl’s cheese sauces are made with real cheese.

9. Fire Dept. Coffee

fire dept coffee

Fire Dept. Coffee is dedicated to providing unique and quality-tasting coffee that packs a punch and also gives back to the local community and veterans, according to the company. The coffee comes in a variety of flavors, including classic original roast, dark roast and three spirit-infused flavors: bourbon, rum and tequila. It’s available in whole beans, ground and K-Cup formats.

10. Monin

monin fruit puree

Operators can create memorable coffee cocktails with Monin's Gourmet Syrups, which come in flavors such as Dark Chocolate, Toasted Marshmallow and Caramel Apple. The manufacturer offers a variety of recipes, each featuring Monin’s Gourmet Syrups, fruit purees and concentrated flavorings.

11. Stabil Grippers

stabil grippers

Beyond consumable products, Stabil Grippers are nonslip traction footwear solutions designed to support workers, and they are ideal for winter weather. Stabil Grippers dramatically enhance traction in slick or wet environments, reducing the risk of slips and falls, the company says. They stretch to snugly and securely attach to the bottom of a worker’s footwear of choice and can be used repeatedly after cleaning in hot water to remove build-up.