When it comes to new ideas in the world of "fun food," perhaps Dan Kroeger of Gold Medal Products should be called the "father of confection."

That's because Kroeger "” the 52-year-old president and CEO of the family-owned "fun food" and concession equipment business "” and his team recently developed the next wave in the cotton candy industry. The company has long been the industry leader in popcorn poppers and related products, including sweet popcorn in such flavors as raspberry, watermelon, green apple or toffee, as well as Cajun and jalapeno.

Cotton candy has been around longer than Gold Medal Products, but only by a few decades. Gold Medal is a hometown company started in 1930; the confection made its debut in St. Louis in 1904 at the World's Fair. During its history, this spun sweet treat was either served on a cone, or, more recently, in a foil bag.

But concessionaires will tell you that once cotton candy's short shelf life expires you're left with little more than a glob of colored sugar.

Enter Kroeger and the Gold Medal team at the Evendale headquarters. For 74 years they've been thinking about all those non-Atkins-friendly treats we love to eat: corn dogs, popcorn, snow cones, funnel cakes, and more.

Recently, Kroeger moved a simple idea to the forefront of the cotton candy business. A tamper-resistant plastic clear tub (patent pending) is the result. Its introduction creates a stackable cotton candy, called Candee Fluff, with a dramatically increased shelf life.

With the company's low level of "bureaucratic red tape" and hands-on philosophy, the idea moved from concept to completion in just a few weeks.

"As we've grown, we've kept a small-company philosophy," Kroeger maintains. Decision makers are personally involved in the process. "I have no one to screen my calls, no secretary, and we keep an open-door policy" so employees and management can communicate.

Candee Fluff has been a big hit, Kroeger reports. Big-name customers, like Wrigley Field in Chicago and Paramount's Kings Island, are pleased with the product's increased shelf life. Theater chains report that trash generated from cotton candy sales is nonexistent, as patrons are taking home the tubs and reusing them. Also, a large leading discount retailer reports increased sales of up to 200 percent, Kroeger says, and product loss is nil.

Quite simple as far as ideas go, the innovation has paid off in big ways. Yet, quips Chris Petroff, the national sales manager of Gold Medal, "Why didn't we do this 20 years ago?"

There's a lot of room ahead to develop this next generation of spun sugar consumers. With 20 percent of the company's $70 million in sales attributed to cotton candy products, Kroeger believes there's plenty of spinning left to do before this new era runs its course.