A Touch of Glass: New vessels change the image of cinemas

Snack Corner

With the emergence of adult beverages in the cinema channel, there has been considerable disruption in the way concessions have been presented. It was once the norm that a theatre carried the basic paper products such as cups and popcorn tubs, since these vessels are disposable, inexpensive and transient. As we have progressed, popcorn tubs have been replaced by leak-proof bags. Even those simple items have evolved toward IML cups for sodas and either plastic tubs or metal tins for popcorn, to enhance the customer experience.

That said, a similar transition is occurring with adult beverage drink ware. It is no longer adequate to have a simple “red solo” cup for beer and a clear plastic flex cup for highballs or wine. No, this channel of business is moving toward a new age of elite drinkware that mimics glass and crystal while maintaining the necessary requirements of being disposable, safe and elegant.

There are two recognized companies who are making great strides in providing faux glassware that improves the presentation of alcoholic beverages. These companies understand the needs of the cinema realizing the value proposition in elegant stemware and glasses while keeping the principal concerns of safety—i.e., non-breakable, portable/transient applications, and disposability.

When TOSSWARE entered the concession marketplace, movie theatres saw it as a means to offer both luxury and convenience. TOSSWARE provides a multitude of beverage ware that includes various sizes, shapes and uses. Creatively, they also made it possible to add stems to the bolo cups and flutes. That innovation allows for flexibility by the merchant. A simple wine glass without stemware can be used as a highball glass or for Moscato wine. Add a stem that snaps on the bottom and the user now has an elegant glass for chardonnay or cabernet. The same is true for the flute; it can serve as the vessel for a glamorous frozen drink or, adding the stem, as a glass for sparkling wines or Prosecco. Since the vessels are polyurethane, they are sustainable and can be reused at home, around the pool or on the patio. There are also two sizes of beer tumblers that are perfect for either draft beer or bottle/can transfers. For those who want to create a “flight of tastes,” TOSSWARE offers a four-ounce taster. Lids for these glasses can be purchased to accompany people on the move and reduce the possibility of spills.   

Michelle Lee, brand manager for TOSSWARE, states that the objective is to have continuous innovation, to push forward modern designs with an upscale quality that can personalize the experience. The goal is to revolutionize the market while maintaining a balance of elegance and function. To that end, these cups are also made to stack, enabling the bartender to save space in the bar area. “In a setting where glass can be a hindrance more than it’s worth through shattering and mountains of dishes, TOSSWARE provides luxury and ease alongside a similar aesthetic to glass, far beyond cheaper plastic cups,” Lee asserts. In essence, these new glasses provide the key elements for patrons on the go: convenience, style, tolerance and a value proposition.

TOSSWARE also boasts that its products are 100% BPA-free, recyclable and made of a high-quality polymer that produces a crystal-like clarity. All these products can be specially printed with any logo.

Another company emerging as a leader in glassware is GOVINO. The Newport Beach, CA-based company is proud that its products are stylish, shatterproof and ergonomic. Another of the assets is the creative design that manages a thumb indention for easier grasp of the vessel. This impression in the glass lets the consumer swirl the drink without losing their grip. The indention helps prevent smudges that cloud the plastic.

GOVINO was originally created as a trade tool to assist professionals in showcasing their wines whenever proper stemware was not available—it was introduced to the world’s most respected wine producers in 2008 and became the first and only unbreakable wine glass of its kind to be advocated by the wine industry. GOVINO subsequently rolled out its wares to multiple channels of business including cinemas, where it has alliances with studios such as Lionsgate. GOVINO also sees their vessels as a means to market various properties within the cinema channel—whether films, logos, spirits, vintages or wine makers, all can be visibly highlighted while the patron holds the vessel.  

GOVINO offers two distinct lines with differing qualities. The Festival line is intended to be hand-washed and can be reused and recycled. They are also dishwasher-safe, in cinemas or at home (top rack only). The TopRack line is far more durable and is intended for high commercial use. TopRack is made with Tritan, which allows the vessel to maintain its shape and luster after multiple uses.

Once again, cinemas continue to cross-pollenate with other entertainment ventures to improve the theatre experience. With the addition of high-quality drink ware, theatres now compete with the ambience of local bars and pubs. Just as cinemas have improved the images onscreen, the sound quality and seating arrangements, the beverage presentation has a duty to follow suit. Cheers!

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