A concession stand (American English), snack kiosk or snack bar (British English, Irish English) is a place where patrons can purchase snacks or food at a cinema, amusement park, zoo, aquarium, circus, fair, stadium, beach, swimming pool, concert, sporting event, or other entertainment venue. Some events or venues contract out the right to sell food to third parties. Those contracts are often referred to as a concession — hence the name for a stand where food is sold. Usually prices for goods at concession stands are greater than elsewhere for the convenience of being close to an attraction, with outside food and drink being prohibited, and they often contribute significant revenue to the venue operator (especially in the case of movie theaters).
Concession stands were not originally operated by the movie theaters, and food was often sold by people attending the film or by vendors outside of the theater.
Movie theaters were at first hostile to food in their facilities, but during the Great Depression, theaters added concession stands as a way to increase revenue in the economically stagnant times. By the 1930s, concession stands were a main fixture in many theaters. During World War II, candy was scarce at concession stands because of the sugar rationing going on at the time, and popcorn became more popular than before.
In the late 1940s, and early 1950s, as movie ticket sales were down, sales of food at concession stands increased. In the US concession owners are represented by the National Association of Concessionaires and the National Independent Concessionaires Association.
Types of food
Concession stands typically sell junk food. The most basic concessions at movie theaters include candy, popcorn and soft drinks. Larger concession facilities in stadiums, amusement parks and newer movie theatres have enabled the sale of a limited selection of fast food, including grilling stations and hotplates to prepare hot foods (hamburgers, french fries, pizza, hot dogs, corn dogs, nachos, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, cotton candy, and churros), and freezers to store cold desserts (snow cones, slushies and ice cream). Sports stadiums/arenas and concert venues sell beer and other mild alcoholic beverages, usually in plastic disposable cups since glass bottles could be used as projectiles by unruly spectators. Formal entertainment venues such as symphony concert halls and opera houses often eschew fast food and junk food for more upscale fare, including wine, coffee and tea, baked desserts, and pastries.
Although the above are the most popular common staples at concession stands, there are often region-specific variations. For instance, Citizens Bank Park has Philadelphia-style food stands, including several which serve cheesesteaks, hoagies, and other regional specialties. Busch Stadium includes standard ballpark fare like bratwurst, nachos and peanuts, but also has St. Louis-area favorites such as pork steak sandwiches and toasted ravioli; uniquely Busch Stadium also allows outside food and drink (including soft-sided drink coolers).
The concourse of many newer arenas now include multiple concession stands that essentially form a food court, serving a variety of fast food. Modern stadiums also include numerous grilling stations and soda fountains, bars, cafés, and restaurants. Club seating and luxury boxes have exclusive access to high-end restaurants, cafés, bars, and catering not available to regular ticketholders.
Concessions are often contracted out to third parties, including major fast food chains.
Legends Hospitality (Yankee Stadium and AT&T Stadium) and Delaware North (TD Garden and Emirates Stadium) are companies that specialize in stadium catering. Alternatively, concession stands can be operated by fast food chains such as McDonald's, Pizza Pizza, or Tim Hortons.
A concession stand by the name of "Flora-Dew" at Hanlan's Point in Toronto, Ontario. The image was taken in 1928 and depicts a typical stand from that time period.
At Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the "Goal Line Stand" incorporates sports and food into their concession stand.
- Jill Hunter Pellettieri (June 26, 2007). "Make It a Large for a Quarter More?". Slate. Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
- Sluis, Sarah (July 25, 2013). "All that jazz! Concessionaires head to the Big Easy for NAC Convention". Film Journal International. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "Concessionaire to lead stands Tom Hodson will head a national organization for concessions". York Daily Record. September 13, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
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