Catching a film at your favorite cinema simply isn’t complete without an armload of trusty movie house snacks. This is true whether you are watching a movie alone, with your partner, or with a big group of your friends or relatives. You’ll be happy to discover, though, that the offerings at the concession stands have evolved over the years.
Cinema snacks no longer consist of merely buckets of popcorn, boxes of candy, and cups of soda. Visit one of many luxury cinemas in the UAE today, for instance, and your senses are sure to be flooded with the sights and scents of a wide variety of delicious options. There are viewing venues that now provide in-screen dining options, menus prepared by Michelin-starred chefs, three-course meals served straight to your seat, and more.
Let’s take a peek at some traditional snacks as well as more modern nibbles now available in cinemas.
When watching a movie at the theater, you can expect tubs of this fluffy white stuff to be the perfect accompaniment. Popcorn has been a staple treat that goes with watching movies perhaps for as long as snack bars have been around. It is a popular choice for moviegoers as it does not produce as much sound or aromas within the theatre while it is being eaten, compared to nachos drenched in cheese and salsa or bean-stuffed burritos.
Popcorn is a lighter snack than most of the other options you would find in a typical snack bar. Each kernel you put in your mouth is rich with antioxidants and fiber. To make it even healthier, you could go easy on the amount of butter, caramel or even salt that is added to your bag (of course, these are the things that make popcorn a lot tastier and fun to eat).
Today, popcorn has come a long way from its humble beginnings. In some cinemas in Dubai, you can find unusual flavors suited for the more adventurous moviegoers, such as strawberry with cream, and wasabi.
Technology has also given this unassuming snack a makeover. Like in a mad experiment you would only see in the movies, the kernels are deep frozen using liquid nitrogen. What you get is a bucket of steaming popcorn that oozes flavor and vapor with every bite.
Burgers, sandwiches, and burritos
The jury is still out on whether sandwiches and burgers are suitable movie snacks, but some theaters have allowed patrons to carry them inside These are a more filling alternative to popcorn and candy bars. They also make up a meal that satisfies a broader audience, from kids to adults.
Some cinemas and moviegoers are wary of anything made with bread. These may not be noisy to eat, but depending on the sauces and flavorings used, their odors can waft down several rows of seats. People would know if somebody else has brought a burger, a hotdog sandwich or burrito inside the theatre.
If you go beyond the US cinemas, the choices for sandwich-type movie snacks get broader. There are film houses that serve other meat-stuffed concoctions such as falafels, samosas, and vada pavs, among others.
Some venues take it a step further, and moviegoers are happy to indulge in more special snack creations. Watch the movie in a premium Dubai movie theater and have your taste buds treated to burgers with soft Wagyu beef patties and aged cheddar cheese. You may even find lobster rolls and sliders served with avocado salsa.
Fries or chips
Fries, chips or crisps — whatever you may call them, these potato snacks are available in most, if not all, cinemas. The munchable treats come in a wide variety of flavors, including lightly salted and barbeque. In certain regions, you may find more unusual packs featuring local flavors such as salted egg or Tom Yum. These potato snacks are a common alternative to popcorn.
Other fried or grilled finger foods
The greasier, the better for some people. Finger foods run the gamut from fritters, prawns, and fish and chips, to skewers, chicken wings, and spring rolls, to name a few.
Platters with a combination of different dishes are recommended as they are great for sharing. As with any greasy foods and snacks with dips, eating can get messy. Best to prepare lots of tissues, napkins and wet wipes or hand sanitizers when going through these types of movie snacks.
Sweets and desserts
Candies and chocolates are popular snacks to bring into the theater. Between the two, studies show that chocolates are more effective in making moviegoers enjoy their experience. When you snack on chocolate, the body releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine which leave you feeling happy.
Dark chocolate has other health benefits. The flavanols in it have been shown to boost brain function and make you feel more alert.
Sweets in various forms are often displayed alongside sodas and popcorn in cinema snack bars. You can find sweets in many forms, including chocolate bars, candy packets, ice cream, individually packaged cookies, and cotton candy, among others. And then, there are more opulent options.
Cinemas that go beyond the usual fare may serve French toast, crepes, fondants, crumbles, cakes and other similar baked goodies. There are also pancakes soaked in chocolate or Nutella, shakes topped with whipped cream and s’mores or pretzels. The list goes on.
Much like popcorn, sodas are must-haves when viewing movies at the theater. A tall, cold drink and a bucket of freshly popped popcorn are everything you need for a classic moviehouse snack. However, there are also alternatives for people who want more.
In countries with a thriving tea culture, you can find food stalls serving Karak chai. Made from loose black tea leaves, saffron, cardamom, sugar, and evaporated milk, it is a drink suitable for those who want to enjoy more robust flavors.
Theater snack bars have evolved immensely since the days of popcorn, chocolate bars, and soda. We’ve given you a taste of what’s out there; now, you can pick out the movie snacks you’ll want to try. Give different movie theaters a visit to see what you’ve been missing and enhance your viewing experience.
Paul Fox is the Director of Roxy Cinemas under Meraas Group/DXB Entertainments. Roxy Cinemas currently has five Dubai locations: The Beach, La Mer, City Walk, Box Park, and Bollywood Parks.