Blog/ Point of Sale

5 Highly Profitable Concession Stand Foods (With Examples)

Concession stand foods

Your guests come to play. And eat. Why? Because the two go hand in hand! We all love a fun day out, and afterward, when we're hungry, we look for somewhere good to eat.

If your venue doesn't provide options that are SO good that your guests are willing to queue for them, you're missing a huge opportunity for revenue generation.

Read on to find out which food items your venue can sell to ensure your guests remember you as a place where they want to play AND eat – increasing the amount of money your guests spend with each visit in the process.


How to choose the most profitable food options

The food which will be most popular for your venue will, of course, depend on what kind of venue you operate and where you are located. For example, if your venue operates from a part of the world where the weather is more tropical, then skew your offerings toward foods that guests crave in the heat.

In that same vein, reviewing your menus seasonally and adjusting depending on the season and current food trends is also a good idea.

Plant-based options

As we will go into further detail below, you don't need to reinvent the wheel or break the budget to include plant-based options. You can perform simple tweaks of classic food options and produce tasty plant-based alternatives! Plant-based options may even come cheaper, with a recent study finding that vegan meals are 40% cheaper than meat and fish counterparts.

So you'll save money AND cater to a broader audience!

Healthier food options

Don't be afraid to introduce healthy options because they may not sell as well as your current options!

A 2008 and 2009 study of concession stand sales for two seasons of high school fall sports in Muscatine, Iowa… [tested the inclusion of] healthier options.

It found that new healthy foods comprised 9.2% of total revenue, and sales of some new items increased with each game.

The findings showed that the satisfaction levels of the children remained the same as before the experiment, but the satisfaction levels of the parents significantly increased! That is a huge win and could be for your venue also, as satisfied parents play a big part in the success of any attraction venue.

Social media-share-worthy food

You've seen the people at eateries snapping pictures of their beautiful meals before digging in, right? Have you ever wondered how many times #food posts appear on Instagram per month? 250 million times is the answer.

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools your venue can utilize. And when others are posting about and recommending you, this impact is much greater.

Don't miss out on this impactful exposure; read on and learn how to make your food options trend on social media.


5 concession stand food options

Now let's jump into our picks for the five most profitable concession stand foods, their healthier and plant-based alternatives, and how you can ensure that your offerings #trend.

The following foods have been selected as they:

  • Are time-tested as enduringly popular amongst guests of all ages
  • Are cost-effective in regards to purchasing ingredients
  • Are profitable to sell
  • Can be produced in bulk with minimal labor
  • Don't require cutlery to be provided to the guest
  • Are versatile and can easily be refreshed into many different flavor combinations

1. Hot Dogs

Hot dogs﹘who doesn't love them?! Hot dogs are cost-effective, easy to prepare, and hugely popular with guests. A bonus is that they smell AMAZING as they cook, so if your guests are on the fence about the purchase, the aroma will undoubtedly lure them in!

The classic option

Traditional beef or pork sausage on a white bread bun. Toppings include ketchup, mustard, and sauteed onions.

Trendy, social media-worthy alternative

The Chicago-style hotdog is a classic American combo that is making a resurgence of late. It is prepared with a beef frank and topped with yellow mustard, pickles, green relish, pickled peppers, tomato, and a dash of celery salt.

Healthier/plant-based alternatives

There are many vegetarian and vegan-friendly options these days, so take your pick of the sausage and jazz it up with knock-out toppings.

Taco-style hotdogs are all the rage nowadays, so they might be a good option for your venue too! Include a vegetarian/ vegan sausage on a sourdough bun, topped with pickled red onions, cilantro, crumbled Cotija, and jalapenos.

Estimated cost

Generally, less than 50 cents per hot dog.


2. Hot Chips

Hot chips are universally loved and oh-so-hard to resist!

They are one of the highest profit-margin concession stand options due to the affordability of potatoes and the widespread popularity of hot chips amongst guests. Additionally, they can be cut ahead of time and fried upon request - making them fast, easy, and convenient for vendors.

The classic option

French-fry cut potatoes with guest-preferred add-ons. Add-ons can range from ketchup to sweet chili sauce and sour cream. Further add-ons include cheese, chili, bacon bits, chives, and other herb toppings.

Trendy, social media-worthy alternative

Who says potato chips need to be made from russet potatoes only?

For a bowl of chips worthy of a social snap, consider using other types of visually appealing and delicious potatoes. Sweet potato is a favorite, but you could also consider the lesser known varieties such as Japanese sweet potato or Peruvian potatoes.

Healthier/plant-based alternatives

Your venue can provide healthier russet potato chip options by frying them in oils with higher smoke points! These oils include avocado oil, olive oil, canola oil, and corn oil.

For a lower-calorie option, try cauliflower fries or broccoli fries if you want to get creative!

Estimated cost

Hot chips are one of the cheapest options: a pound of russet potatoes will cost you less than 50 cents!


3. Nachos

Short in name, big in impact. Nachos have the taste and the texture your guests love. And they're familiar with it too! Most of us grew up making nachos in a bowl with cheese and salsa as a favorite after-school microwave snack. Over the years, however, it has been realized that nachos are a fantastic flavor base and can easily and inexpensively be packed with even MORE flavor.

And did we mention that you'll love them too? They are cost-effective, a breeze to whip up, and require little to no preparation time! PLUS, with all the toppings, they are incredibly visually appealing and snap-worthy!

The classic option

Corn chips, sour cream, jalapenos, guacamole, tomato, cilantro, and onions. Optional extras include chili, chives, or cheese.

Trendy, social media-worthy alternative

To make your bowl of nachos even more interesting, try adding some proteins such as tuna, chickpeas, tofu, or chicken.

You could also consider including different cheese options such as paneer or ayib.

Healthier/plant-based alternatives

For a healthier, vegan taco bowl, try adding roasted chickpeas or fried tofu as proteins, using organic corn chips, and topping with vegan cheese and vegan sour cream.

Healthier chip options are also available if you're interested! You could try beetroot chips or even pita or sweet potato chips.

Estimated cost

Less than $3 per pound.


4. Popcorn

No longer just a movie theater snack, this quick and easy treat has come a long way! The best popcorn is prepared fresh, but to do so takes no time at all, and preparation requires minimal ingredients. Alternatively, this can also be done if you want to pre-prepare the popcorn. Popcorn can be stored safely for months in the right conditions!

But most importantly, the finished product is delectable, comforting, and addictive, so your guests will be lining up for more.

The classic option

Full-fat butter popcorn or caramel popcorn.

Trendy, social media-worthy alternative

Because popcorn is such a simple snack, you have free reign to dress it up as you please! You can drape lashings of caramel or chocolate sauce over the popcorn and decorate it with small sweets such as mini marshmallows or candy shards to turn this humble snack into a work of art!

Other trendy savory combinations include rosemary and parmesan, BBQ, and even taco flavor!

Healthier/plant-based alternatives

Similar to hot chips, popcorn can also be prepared in healthier oils. Coconut oil is an option and can be used to prepare coconut oil popcorn with toasted coconut flakes.

You can make your popcorn offerings vegan-friendly by using dairy-free butter or olive oil.

Estimated cost

A 50 lb bag is around $35.


5. Ice Cream

Is there anything better than ending a great day out with ice cream? Ice cream appeals to all generations and is SO versatile. Worldwide there are over 1000 ice creams flavors﹘including cereal milk!

Offer ice cream at your venue and watch children and adults alike light up as they peruse your available flavors!

The classic option

Full-fat dairy ice cream in chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry flavor.

Trendy, social media-worthy alternative

You can take your pick of trendy new ice cream flavors; there are over 1,000 to choose from, after all!

Some of the most popular flavors that have recently emerged are cookie dough, buttered pecan, cinnamon toast, and matcha ice cream﹘just to name a few!

Present these options with fun and colorful toppings, and they will surely be show-stoppers!

Healthier/plant-based alternatives

Vegan ice cream is very popular and can be made from many non-dairy bases to taste as delicious as its dairy counterpart!

Vegan ice cream is generally made from either almond, soy, or coconut milk. These options are lower-fat options, making them healthier in this area; however, the sugar levels generally remain quite high. A way to present healthier options here might be to consider using natural sweeteners such as honey or date paste.

Estimated cost

Less than $1.50 per unit.


Play, plan and deliver!

When deciding on how to refresh your menu, consider the above and how you might be able to incorporate the following foods and trends into your menu.

Something you could do to get your food items noticed online is to invent a unique menu item. Put your twist on a classic food item, name it after your venue, and ensure it has a share-worthy appearance. Then create a hashtag for guests to use when posting snaps of your trendy new offering!

Finally, don't forget your equipment budget. Ensure that any new equipment you bring to create your new menu is within your budget. Rapid-cook ovens and ice cream makers can run quite expensive, so be sure to factor in these costs. If the costs run too high, consider alternatives such as commissioning a supplier.

As they say, it's all in the planning! So have a play and see what will work best for your venue, then plan how you will execute your vision to delight your guests' taste buds!