Candy Industry magazine has presented its 2023 Kettle Award to Kirk Vashaw, chairman and CEO, Spangler Candy Company. The Kettle Award is the most prestigious award in the confectionery industry, and criteria requires superior achievement in the following areas: sales and marketing; education and personnel training; energy and environmental contributions; quality advancement; production and plant improvement; and research and product development.
The chair and members of the Kettle Committee, which consists of representatives from leading suppliers to the industry, presented the 76th Kettle Award to Vashaw at a gala reception on May 23, during the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, at the Union League Club. The other nominees included Sylvia Buxton, president and CEO, Perfetti Van Melle North America; and Douglas R. Dressman, president and CEO, Esther Price Candies Corp.
Each of the nominees for this illustrious award were nominated as determined by the criteria set up for the Kettle Award in 1946. The criteria require superior achievement in the following areas: sales and marketing; education and personnel training; energy and environmental contributions; quality advancement; production and plant improvement; and research and product development.
In 2008, Vashaw became the 7th president in Spangler Candy Co.’s 111-year history and the first fourth-generation family member to lead the company. The company employs 500 employees in its Bryan, Ohio plant and produces more than 12 million Dum-Dum lollipops and 3 million candy canes every day. In its 500,000 sq.-ft., state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Bryan, Ohio, some of America’s most well-known confections are made, including Dum-Dums, Saf-T-Pops, Circus Peanuts, Spangler Candy Canes and more.
In 2018, Vashaw led Spangler’s acquisition of NECCO, which had then fallen into bankruptcy. Through his leadership, the entire company was acquired and Spangler retained the NECCO Wafer and Sweetheart brands. It has since merged those manufacturing operations into their own plant, expanded their plant and successfully relaunched the brands.
About the Kettle Awards
Established in 1946 by Candy Industry's founder and publisher, Don Gussow, the Kettle Award represents the highest recognition an individual working within the U.S. confectionery industry can attain. As he explained to readers then, the Kettle Award was meant as “recognition of the contribution for ‘great or good’ of the industry, not only on the part of the person selected for the distinction, but of every member of the confectionery field who has devoted himself in whatever measure to make the business of candy making and selling a more profitable and happier one.”