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Why Fun Foods Should Be Part of the Menu

Asian woman sits at lunch table with friend smiling as she is about to enjoy her plate of nachos

Serving Smiles: Nachos, Hot Dogs, and Popcorn Can Transform Your Menu

When it comes to noncommercial foodservice, “fun” isn’t typically the first thing most people think of. Instead, utility is often the top priority—feeding a lot of people in a small amount of time or ensuring the menu is accommodating to specific dietary needs of a facility’s clientele.

But “fun” should be a higher priority than it is; serving fun foods, such as nachos, hot dogs, popcorn and even cotton candy offers an array of benefits to both operators and customers alike.

From a profit standpoint, these familiar foods are, of course, well-loved comfort foods for many consumers, and are expected fare in certain settings such as at sports stadiums. But beyond that, there are other financial and morale-boosting benefits that offering these foods can have in other segments as well.

Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

In healthcare settings, comfort foods can help boost morale among patients, staff and visitors in the facility. In stressful times, being able to enjoy a snack that lightens the mood can be just what the doctor ordered. In healthcare cafeterias, low-labor foods—such as nachos, which are customizable and can be topped with an array of craveable ingredients; popcorn, which can have a profit margin of up to 80%; hot dogs, which offer a consistently familiar taste and experience; and cotton candy, which is a popular treat for both kids and adults—offer a way for hospitals to provide comfort without maxing out the budget or labor needs.


In schools, the benefits are similar—especially in college and university settings. Fun foods that trigger feelings of nostalgia can be a great way to boost sales. Students who remember cotton candy from their childhood, for instance, or who associate popcorn with fun times with friends or at the movies, are the perfect audience for these menu options. For operators, these foods give the opportunity to host themed meals and special events, as well as make sales outside of standard mealtime hours. Because popcorn vending machines from Gold Medal Products are self-serve, students and guests can purchase a fun snack whenever they’re craving one, and operators don’t need to worry about having workers onsite to staff the machine.

Recreational Facilities

For recreational facilities such as sports stadiums, offering fun foods is a no-brainer. And while hot dogs, Sno-Kones®, nachos and popcorn may already be on the menu, there are ways operators can amp up the experience. For example, popcorn vending machines can be made even more engaging with custom graphics packages reflecting sports teams or venue. Or for added convenience, try prepackaged popcorn flavors like caramel corn, cheese corn, or the newly released ICEE popcorn. Other popular prepackaged items include cotton candy and soft pretzels.

a black male smiles at camera while holding his plate of nachos

Adding Fun Foods to the Lineup without Maxing Out Labor

In noncommercial settings, foods that can be prepared quickly without a lot of labor, but that have broad appeal, can be a boon to the bottom line. Equipment from Gold Medal, from popcorn machines and roller grills to waffle bakers and food warming cabinets, allows foodservice operators to offer craveable, fun comfort foods with ease. Fun foods should be on the menu in more spaces—to learn more about the benefits of selling fun foods and Gold Medal’s offerings, click here.


* This article was originally published with Foodservice Director Magazine.