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Concession Tip October 2018

A Hot Chocolate Solution

By:John Gibson, University of North Texas 

Here in North Texas, the weather may not turn as cold compared to several other NACC Members; nonetheless, we still have a need to produce and sell Hot Chocolate 1-2 Football games a season. While our Concession Stands are equipped with a hot water heater, the temperature only reaches around 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not adequate to produce quality hot chocolate. Additionally, the hot water heaters can run out of hot water after just a couple of batches. Therefore, our Concessions Operation was in need of a Hot Water Solution that could keep enough Hot Water supplied for hot chocolate sales throughout a Football game.

Years ago, a former Vendor of mine provided a great idea which I have utilized multiple times. The idea is simple: a Tankless Water Heater, converted to use Liquid Propane as a fuel source, can provide an endless amount of Hot Water to mix and serve Hot Chocolate throughout your stadium or arena. As long as there is enough propane on hand, this Tankless Hot Water System can produce gallons of hot water, to a maximum water temperature of 167 degrees. This temperature range allows the water to maintain a hot temperature, even after mixing with your hot chocolate powder.

The execution of the idea was fairly straightforward. Online, I was able to purchase a Tankless Hot Water Heater and ship it to my Concessions Warehouse within a couple of business days. With the help of our campus Facilities team, we mounted the tankless water heater onto a two-wheel dolly, connected an LP Regulator and connection hose to the gas in-take valve, and fitted the water inlet and outflow connections with NSF Food Grade Water hoses. After changing the hot water temperature setting to 167 degrees, and plugging the control panel into an electrical socket, we had hot water available instantly.

The cost of this setup is low overall and not prohibitive for having multiple hot chocolate stations in your stadium if needed. Due to our lower volume of Hot Chocolate sales, my team only needs one of these systems to operate effectively. However, if our stadium seated more fans, a 2nd or 3rd Hot Chocolate station would be helpful. We utilize our East Side Vendor Depot to store, prep and deliver product throughout the stadium with the help of a Non-Profit Group. Two people from the NPO Group fill our Cambros with hot water and hot chocolate mix throughout the game, while the other four members of the group deliver prepped product to the stands, and return empty Cambros that need re-filling.

Our 2017 Season Finale vs Army featured out largest crowd of the year, and subsequently our coldest temperatures. Because of this system, we were able to record the highest hot chocolate sales in Apogee Stadium’s history with relative ease. If you are needing a Hot Chocolate Solution, I cannot recommend a Tankless Water System enough. If you would like more information on this idea, or if you have specific equipment questions, feel free to contact me at any time.

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