See some of the most profitable and best-selling concession stand items to help your bottom line
Concession stands have been a staple of sporting events, movie theaters, and amusement parks for decades, offering a variety of snacks and refreshments to hungry patrons.
However, not all concession stand items are created equally where some items sell very well and generate high-profit margins, while others do not.
In this article, we will explore 15 of the most profitable and best-selling concession stand items that can help boost sales and maximize profits for new and existing concession stand operators. From classic favorites like popcorn and hot dogs to newer trends like pizza and tacos.
What makes a food product profitable?
Overall, high-profit margin concession stand foods tend to be simple, convenient, and customizable items that are easy to prepare, transport, and sell at a higher price point than the cost of ingredients.
There are a few common characteristics of high-profit margin concession stand foods. Here are some of the most notable ones:
Low ingredient cost
High-profit margin concession stand foods tend to have low ingredient costs, which means that the cost of the ingredients needed to make the food is relatively low compared to the selling price. This allows concession stands to sell the food at a higher price point, resulting in a higher profit margin.
Easy to prepare
High-profit margin concession stand foods are typically easy to prepare or come prepackaged, which allows vendors to quickly make and serve the food, thus increasing the number of items that can be sold in a short amount of time.
Food products that can be customized with different toppings, dips, or flavors, can increase the appeal of the food to a broader range of event-goers and allows concession stands to charge a higher price point for each item sold. This is known as “upselling” where you add additional items to the main item increasing the overall price of a purchase and profit margins.
Long shelve life
Food that has a longer shelf life doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more profitable than a product that is made to consume within a day or so but it does mean less waste, thus minimizing profit loss.
This is because the product can be sold at a later date, at another event if it doesn’t all sell on the same day at say fair or other types of event.
Profitable concession stand items
First up is popcorn which is popular at a lot of events. It’s relatively inexpensive to make and can be sold at a high price point. It’s also easy to prepare and can be stored in large quantities, making it a practical choice for high-volume events.
2. Soft Drinks
Soft drinks are another profitable concession stand item because they are cheap to buy in bulk at wholesale and can be sold for a decent markup of around 50% or more. They also have a long shelf life, which means they can be stored for extended periods, making them a practical option for concession stands.
3. Hot Dogs
Everyone loves hot dogs which are a classic concession stand food that tends to be profitable not only because they are so popular but because the base ingredients are cheap to source and can be sold at a relatively high price point.
Hotdogs can also be sold for a higher price if you offer additional toppings or brand the products as gourmet (providing you actually provide premium ingredients).
Nachos are a profitable concession stand item because they are tasty and popular and relatively inexpensive to make, which can then be sold for a good markup. And Like hotdogs, nachos are also a product where you can add additional items thus increasing the profit margin.
Pretzels are well-known and popular concession stand items that are cheap to produce and sell for a relatively decent markup. They can also be brought prepackaged in bulk in packets.
Candy is a popular product across the board and not just at concession stands. It is cheap and easy to source prepackaged from wholesalers, has a long shelf life, and is a great grab-and-go product making it practical at events with large crowds, which can be sold for a relatively high-profit margin.
7. Bottled Water
Like soft drinks, bottled water is a must-have item at any concession stand because it’s affordable to purchase in bulk, has a long shelf-life, and many event-goers prefer to purchase bottled water instead of other beverages like soft drinks because it’s a healthier option.
8. French Fries
Along with hotdogs, French fries are also one of the best-selling and most profitable concession stand items. The base ingredient, potato, is very inexpensive to buy and once turned into fries can be loaded with a range of other ingredients and turned into “loaded fries”, in the process increasing the price and your profit margin further.
9. Ice Cream
Ice cream has been popular and one of the best-selling concession stand items at events for many years for very good reasons. It’s a product that can be stored easily and has a long shelf life, is relatively inexpensive to produce, and comes with a range of additional toppings. It also comes in a wide variety of flavors which means there should be a little something for everyone.
10. Popcorn Chicken
Popcorn chicken is a popular concession stand item because it is easy to prepare, can be sold for a high price point, and is a popular snack or meal item. It is also a good option for event-goers who are looking for a savory snack option.
Pizza is a wildly popular and convenient concession stand product that can be sold by the slice or as a whole pizza. It’s easy to prepare and can be cooked quickly, and the base ingredients used to make it such as wheat are relatively cheap in comparison to what they are sold for.
Additionally, like fries and hotdogs, pizzas can be customized with different toppings, which can increase their appeal and allow concession stands to charge a higher price.
12. Cotton Candy
Cotton candy has to be an all-time nostalgic sweet snack at the seaside, fairs, amusement parks, and countless other events. The markup on cotton candy is high because it’s relatively inexpensive to make – sugar and food coloring are the only ingredients needed.
Additionally, cotton candy machines are easy to transport and can be set up quickly, making them a practical option for concession stands.
Churros are a popular concession stand sweet snack which is easy and cheap to produce. All you are really using is flour, eggs, and water to make the churros dough which is then deep-fried and sprinkled with ingredients like castor sugar and cinnamon. Churros also tend to come with a chocolate dipping sauce but if you want to be creative can offer a range of other dipping sides.
Tacos are easy to prepare, can be made quickly, and customized with different fillings and toppings, which makes them not only the best-selling concession stand item but also a high-profit margin food.
Slushies are popular, especially in the summer months, and have a high-profit margin because they are relatively inexpensive to make and can be sold at a higher price point than regular soft or fountain-type drinks.
Additionally, the ingredients used to make slushies (concentrated juice added to ice) have a long shelf life which means nothing is wasted, including your profits.
Gavin D is the founder of Street Food Central and Tru Foo Juice Bar Co. and has worked in the mobile catering industry for over 7 years.