Melvin Gordon, chairman and ceo of Tootsie Roll Industries, expresses his feelings about becoming this year’s Kettle Award recipient.

By the time, the program commenced, there were more than 300 people crowded into the Intercontinental Hotel’s Renaissance Room. This year’s nominees forCandy Industry’s64th Kettle Award hadn’t merely drawn their own supporters to the annual reception held during the All Candy Expo in Chicago; candy makers from all parts of the country had shown up, curious as to who would receive the copper kettle on May 20.

Given the lineup – Scott Albanese, president of Albanese Confectionery Group, Inc.; Mike Bianco, vice president of plant operations, Jelly Belly Candy Co.; Melvin Gordon, chairman of Tootsie Roll Industries; and Taz Murray, president and ceo of Dynamic Confections, Inc. – it was unclear how this year’s balloting would swing.

As Committee Vice Chairman Chuck Phelan of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate walked over to Chairman Lee Hartman of Printpack with the envelope, a hush settled over the crowd. One could even hear the tearing of the envelope as Hartman took out the card nestled inside and then read the name, “Melvin Gordon of Tootsie Roll Industries.”

In acknowledging his wife, Ellen, a Kettle recipient from 1985, as well as thanking company executives and employees, suppliers and supporters, Gordon reflected on the joys of working in the confectionery industry. Indeed, it was a sentiment unabashedly shared by all in attendance.

Taz Murray (left), president and ceo of Dynamic Confections, and Keith Elliot, president of Dynamic Chocolates, share a few laughs with Candy Industry’s roving photographer.

Nominee Mike Bianco of Jelly Belly Candy Co. and his wife, Linda, take a moment for the camera.

(From left to right) The Albanese family: Tess, Dominique, Bethany, Joshua, Scott and Debbie.

It’s a family affair for Kettle Committee member Russ Crosio of Crosio Associates, who’s joined by his two lovely daughters, Nicole (left) and Stacy.

The 2009 Candy Industry Kettle Committee: First row: Jim Greenberg, vice president – Union Confectionery Machinery Co.; Ray Cote, president, American Chocolate Mould Co., Inc.; Katherine Clark, director of technical services, Centerchem, Inc.; and Joni Stern, president of Stern Industries. Second row: Aminah Lewis, business development manager, Colorcon; Jim Bourne, president, Hilliard’s Chocolate Systems; William Wetzel, sales manager, Bemis Flexible Packaging – Milprint Division; Bill Copeland, president,; Megan Rose, key accounts manager, Clasen Quality Coatings; and Scott Funk, senior sales executive - Midwest, The Blommer Chocolate Co. Third row: Moreno Roncato, president, Carle & Montanari USA; Rod Oringer, national sales/marketing manager, Oringer Div. – Concord Foods; James Heinz, president & ceo, Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Inc.; Chuck Dodson, director of consumer insights & marketing, A.M. Todd; and Bryan Bainbridge, partner, Bainbridge & Associates. Fourth row: Chuck Phelan, district manager, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, and Committee Vice Chairman; Fred Hintlian, president, Varick Enterprises; Bernard Pacyniak, editor-in-chief, Candy Industry; Ross Craig, sweeteners director/ T&S industry manager, Danisco USA; Ed Wilson, vice president of sales & marketing, AarhusKarlshamn, and Committee Secretary; Ross Crosio, president, Crosio & Associates; Lee Hartman, sales manager, Printpack, Inc., and Committee Chairman; John Zima, director of retail confectionery sales & marketing, ADM Cocoa; and Jeff Cummings, publisher, Candy Industry & Retail Confectioner.

*More photos from this year's Kettle Reception will be available in the coming weeks on