Tasty Alternatives: NAC show unveils snack innovations

Snack Corner

The National Association of Concessionaires’ annual Convention and Expo in New Orleans in August once again presented multiple educational forums, social events and a forward-looking tradeshow. The latest showcase of new products continued to represent the four pillar components of ingenuity, technology, innovation and delectable presentation.

Among the new offerings was Dible Dough, a frozen cookie-dough bar. Its ingenious objective is to deliver edible raw cookie dough without egg products, frozen to be sold as a complement to other ice cream alternatives. Dible Dough was voted Best New Productof the Expo by the NAC membership and attendees.

Dible Dough Edible Cookie Dough Bars are familiar to many, but until now haven’t been available in such a convenient form. Dible Dough combines a delicious, all-natural product made with real, recognizable ingredients with the homemade taste that people crave in an easy-to-eat, easy-to-sell package. “These bars are available in three flavors and will generate additional sales because of their attractive, eye-catching packaging combined with the overwhelming popularity of cookie dough. Everyone loves cookie dough!” enthuses company president Jolene Conway. “The sweet, creamy taste of Dible Dough Bars combined with warm, salty popcorn can’t be beat.”

Software company Tez presented a product called Waiter Locator. This technology allows theatre operators to use their software and applications to improve service times for in-theatre dining experiences. With Waiter Locator, guests can request food and beverages, contact their server and pay without ever leaving their seats. This software does not require adjacent POS systems to coordinate service. Customers can request food in three different ways. First, by text-messaging—the guest texts a keyword and receives a link that directs them to the home menu where they can place their order. Or, each guest receives a QR code that sends them to the home menu. Finally, the Waiter Locator app is available on IOS or Android devices.

The concept is meant to keep things simple. Once the patron is seated in the auditorium, they have easy options for ordering; various generations of customers can choose the most comfortable way to communicate their orders. When the guest pulls up the menu screen, he/she then places their order and, voila, the order is sent to an iPad running the Waiter Locator. The host receiver is located in the kitchen or service area. Since the order contains the exact location of the guest, it theoretically speeds up delivery times. Imagine no servers in the auditoriums taking orders, only attendants delivering food and beverages. Payment  is also made through the patron’s phone, resulting in no credit cards, cash or interruptions for the collections. If that is not enough, management has precise data on response times, productivity and a means to identify slow service during busy stretches.

Texas Tito’s Inc.unveiled its latest contribution to the concession roster with a prepacked, pre-portioned jalapeño. This three-ounce package of sliced jalapeños without the mess of juice could be a perfect complement to nachos and cheese. Concessionaires historically either provide customers bulk jalapeños, leaving questions about safety and sanitation, or spend time and money repacking into soufflé cups, resulting in mess and waste. Tito’s portion packages solve these problems by providing a shelf-stable, sanitary alternative at a competitive cost.

Tito’s jalapeño packages reduce transaction times and offer a higher perceived value, providing additional sales opportunities. Many theatres will offer one package of Tito’s jalapeños with an order of nachos and sell additional packages. Each package contains a sell-by date and UPC code, which improves inventory management, while the one-year shelf life reduces or eliminates waste.

Nuts.com offered its latest in snack options with gourmet nuts. A complete selection of flavored almonds, cashews and other nuts are available in various sizes in single-service or sharable bags. In addition, Nuts.com represents Kopper’s Chocolate, an upscale version of espresso beans, chocolate-covered nuts and even candy-coated milk chocolates.

Kopper’s Chocolate and Nuts.com have been two of the most respected family-owned and operated businesses in America over the past 90 years. The companies have passed down recipes for three generations and Kopper’s is regarded as the first company to produce chocolate-covered gummy bears. The emphasis now is to gain the support and allegiance of cinema operators and extend their exposure past just the Internet.

No one should be surprised that NAC continues to up its game with an array of merchandise that produces the innovations theatres are looking for to increase the value proposition so needed to enhance the experience.

Larry Etter is senior vice president at Malco Theatres and director of education at the National Association of Concessionaires.