Sweet side of moviegoing

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Working at a machine dispensing strawberry and banana smoothies to passers-by at last week’s Sho- West Convention in Las Vegas, Steve Nilforoushan stood out like a raisin in a bowl of M&M’s. On the expansive convention floor at Bally’s Hotel, healthy snacks were not exactly the order of the day at this annual gathering of theater owners who are used to selling their patrons popcorn, candy, sodas and other calorie-packed fare. There stood an undeterred Nilforoushan, enthusiastically handing out thousands of samples of his Smoovies, a drink he is marketing as a movie snack “without the guilt.” “The trade floor was all garbage, all junk food, Coke, candy, popcorn,” Nilforoushan said Thursday. “We are providing a healthy alternative for people who are staying away from the Cokes and the popcorn. People are working out more, watching what they are eating. “Even McDonald’s has healthy options, and theaters have not tapped into the healthy market.” But do enough people really want to eat healthy when they head to the multiplex? According to the National Association of Concessionaires, the old standbys show no sign of fading. “Popcorn, sodas and candy, that’s what people associate with the movies, and other things like nachos and hot dogs and ice cream,” said Susan Cross, the association’s director of communications. “But concessionaires are always trying new things and if they sell, they keep them, and drop them if they don’t. It’s a supply and demand type thing.” At ShoWest, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi had enormous booths touting various flavors and drinks, but most folks gravitated right to the colas. At booths with free samples of such chocolate treats as M&M’s, Raisinets, Goobers and Milk Duds, there was heavy traffic throughout the three-day trade show. With box office revenue down by nearly 6 percent in 2005 from a year earlier and ticket sales at their lowest in almost a decade, theater owners have had to rely more on snack sales. Popcorn, in particular, is highly profitable for exhibitors, as it is inexpensive for them to buy but can be steep for patrons. But most movie fans, while complaining loudly about the rising cost of concessions, simply can’t resist indulging. “It’s just traditional to go with the movies; you want popcorn in the movie, with butter,” 22-year-old Bryan Harada said Wednesday night at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood. Cameron Edmondson, a 24-year-old Hollywood resident going to see “V For Vendetta” at the Arclight, said he was already having cravings. “I want junk food,” he said. “Carrot sticks and smoothies are for when people can actually see what you’re eating.” Cross said part of what has limited new and innovative snack items from catching on in theaters is the fact that movie houses have to serve food and drinks in a quick and efficient manner. There is also not much room for food that takes up a lot of equipment space to prepare. “When you add a new product, you have to take that into consideration,” she said. “But as with any industry, things are constantly changing with new technology.” Nilforoushan took that into consideration and avoided the need for any type of blenders to make his Smoovies. The blended drinks come already prepared and are dispensed as easily as fountain drinks or slushes. Nilforoushan, 30, launched the business with best friend Jason Melancon and is confident they can offer an alternative with appeal even for hard-core junk food junkies. Their Danville, Calif.-based company is just at the beginning stages in terms of signing up customers, but since ShoWest, the phone has been ringing nonstop. “We’re not going in this to try and compete with Coke or Icee or M&M’s,” Nilforoushan said. “There is a missing piece of the pie and we are completing the pie.” Greg Hernandez, 818-713-3758 [email protected]last_img

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