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Gas Station Food...Yum!

It's crazy to think food you could get from a gas station/convenience store could be yummy, right? Think again. And wait to you hear what's coming.

At the c-store industry national convention earlier this month, suppliers of prepared food products, candy and snacks displayed their latest and greatest and also previewed new products that you'll soon be able to buy after you've stopped in for gas for your car.

How about nitrogen-infused cold brewed coffee, organic kombucha, or apple chardonnay seasoned pork jerky paired with cubes of gouda cheese? Really?

According to Jennifer Zegler, global food and drink analyst at Mintel International, those are precisely the types of food offerings that are finding their way into c-stores these days and, she says, they are changing consumers' perceptions about convenience stores as a go-to source for healthy and interesting foods and snacks.

“This might be the start of an evolution in the way convenience stores are challenged to operate,” Ms. Zegler told Food Business News in an interview. “Because you’re going to have the people who are always going in for the hot food service items and the value sized fountain drink, but there’s also people going in and wanting something that’s a little bit healthier.”

The c-store industry is enjoying a robust period of growth, fueled in part by increasing in-store sales. In other words, people are going inside the store to buy stuff after they've pumped their gas -- and it's not just for cigarettes, coffee or a hot dog.

Now, you can find sophisticated snack packs to take with you on your road trip. You can find all manner of coffee and caffeine innovation, with some coffee bars rivaling Starbucks at a fraction of the price.

Want hot? Want sweet? Want it sweet and hot? Just go to your local c-store, and you'll be likely to find super spicy snacks, super sweet snacks and those that are super on both counts all at once.

For more of the eight key trends now happening at your local convenience store, just click here. And for a preview of new products that you'll soon be finding at your local convenience store, click here.

It's not just Bubba's hangout anymore. It's actually worth going inside and checking the place out. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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