QUINCY — It’s next to impossible to leave a Kohl Wholesale food show without a smile on your face, accompanied by that wonderfully full sensation that, at some point, will likely force a loosening of the belt around your middle.

A Kohl show of this nature is, after all, the equivalent of the World Series of Food. The October version of the event — there’s also one in the spring — is the Fall Classic of Cuisine, providing a plethora of palatable pleasures representing all food groups, especially desserts and comfort foods.

More than 150 vendors from Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and beyond filled the Oakley-Lindsay Center on Wednesday, turning the site into a treasure trove of tantalizing treats.

Add to the mix about 3,000 potential buyers and caloric confidants and it proved to be another festival-like setting for the annual Kohl Wholesale fall food fling.

“This is always a huge, great event that is good for the city,” said Andrew Romano, the director of marketing for Kohl Wholesale. “Helping put together an event like this is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

The day-long food show was also celebrating 150 years of Kohl’s contribution to the food-service industry, while allowing vendors to showcase a wide variety of new menu ideas and new products to potential customers.

“The industry has really changed since (the pandemic),” said Lora Goldensoph, the national chain account manager for J&J Snack Foods, which is headquartered in Pennsauken Township, N.J.
More than anything, most vendors feel the overall food-service marketplace is now more stable than it was during and immediately following the pandemic. In turn, that has allowed more freedom in rolling out new products, which makes events like the Kohl’s shows even more important to the food industry.

Kohl Wholesale provides service to restaurants, hotels, supermarket delis, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, retail grocers, caterers, taverns and numerous other outlets.

Vendors showcased most everything from breakfast items to full-course offerings — and absolutely everything in between, plus non-food items such as tableware.

Kohl’s is a broadline distributor of more than 14,000 food-service products and works with more than 3,500 customers, mostly in the Illinois, Missouri and Iowa market regions. Kohl Wholesale’s business partners now include more than 650 manufacturers and other assorted vendors.

“This show allows us to showcase products directly to our (target customers),” said D.J. Frank, an account executive and executive chef for Lakeland Marketing in Uniondale, Iowa.

Rob Triulzi of Andoro and Sons Pizza in St. Louis said a show like the Kohl’s Wholesale fete is an integral part of his company’s game plan. It helps keep the Andoro name — and product — in front of the public’s eye.

“There’s a lot of competition in the frozen pizza business,” Triulzi said.

Andoro and Sons Pizza dates to 1957, and after all of these years, what product remains No. 1?

“Pepperoni is still the most popular pizza,” Triulzi said. “The megameat pizza is also popular.”

An often overlooked segment of the fall and spring shows is the open-to-the-public sessions coordinated by Kohl Wholesale chefs.

“Demonstrations are a big part of these shows,” said Nathan Holtschlag of Kohl’s business development, who was working his 24th fall/spring show Wednesday.

Holtschlag said a major focus Wednesday was centered around emerging food-service trends in schools.

Kohl’s fall and spring shows are also considered the company’s largest marketing tools. The shows provide an up-close and personal opportunity to not only taste a wide variety if products but also make important business contacts.

The Kohl food shows date to October 1983 when the first event was held inside the Holidome at downtown site of the old Holiday Inn, which is now The Atrium Hotel.


No podcast is available for this episode.


Play Video