enjoying “X-Men 2” with a black tea smoothie
in one hand and a tray of boiled octopus balls in the
about catching “The Matrix Reloaded” while
feasting on a Japanese bento box, delicately arranged
with pickled plums, sushi slices, pink fish cakes and
what about trying to find your seat for the new “Terminator” sequel
while loaded down with chicken legs, fried noodles
and salted beef from a vending machine?
soda, popcorn and American candy are becoming increasingly
common at cinema concession counters
outside the United
States, these same cinemas also often continue
to offer cuisine that’s been popular locally
even the popcorn may be unfamiliar to Americans
munching away in foreign moviehouses.
patrons in Mexico, for example, are offered lime and
chili sauces for their popcorn. In Taiwan,
Cinemas offers sweet, salted, chocolate and
strawberry-flavored popcorn. In certain Latin American
markets (including England and Portugal), sweet
preferred over its salty, buttered American
counterpart. (The Portuguese
apparently hold the prize for strongest sweet
tooth, where SBC offers its sweetest-tasting
whopping 80 percent of popcorn sales in England are
sweet, according to Chris Sanders, vice
purchasing for Warner Bros. International
Theatres. But in Ireland, Spain and Italy, he says, “it
would be difficult to give sweet [popcorn] away.”
are unlimited things to do with popcorn,” adds
Martin Olesen, director of international sales for Vogel
Popcorn. “It comes down to imagination and taste.”
for different taste buds and foreign regulations can
Frank Liberto, whose firm distributes
nachos in 44 countries.
He’s learned to adjust the heat
of his jalapeno cheese sauce to suit
geographically fluctuating tastes.
countries such as Australia, he says, most of the spice
must be taken out entirely
appeal to the public.
(The same goes for domestic lightweights
Florida and Texas.) As a result of
strict import food
in Europe, certain food colorings and
be removed, leaving the creamy, orange
cheese sauce with a whiter hue.
still, nacho sales in cinemas worldwide have taken
to Liberto. “Five years ago,
when I went to a theatre in Japan,
I saw a line for nachos
stretching from the concessions around
to the bathrooms.” (Not
bad, considering that Japanese cuisine
traditionally has been void of cheese
also has those moviehouses serving the octopus balls
boxes. In addition, moviegoers
in the land of the rising sun
can typically choose from rice
cookies wrapped in seaweed and painted with
soy sauce – as well as dried,
salted, chewy fish snacks wrapped
in airtight plastic bags.
International offers patrons dried squid in Taiwan
an ice cream cone filled with Chantilly Whip served
is a longtime
for Cinemex snackers in Mexico.
Also popular at theatres south
Rio Grande is
or tamarind (a sour, tart fruit).
There’s even a candy
called “Dedo Indy” or “Indy Finger” made
of chili, tamarind and sugar.
keep up in a vending machine world, many Asian cinema
them to supply moviegoers
with quick, locally popular snacks.
machines are everywhere
according to the Japan Vending
Machine Association, there
is one for every 20 people
SBC introduced to its Taiwanese
which dispense a full range
of local delicacies such
bean curd and chicken legs.
course most moviegoers, regardless of point or origin,
with – but
not everyone is choosing
traditional American quenchers.
Almarza, director of communications for Coca-Cola
notes that in
Venezuela a local
brand called “Hit” is vying with Coke for top choice
among her company’s beverages, followed by frescollita – a
cream soda popular among
patrons in Mexico
soda; it’s the chain’s
Colombia offer local
and Kola Roman, a
which mixes cherry and watermelon
flavors. In Argentina,
soda, which Almarza
says is Coca-Cola’s
brand in Colombia.
with an array of flavors
coffee are popular
in Taiwan. In Korea,
locals choose from
Born Bit Maesil,
drink, and Qoo,
a popular juice
drink served in
SBC sites in
It’s unlikely that Indy Fingers and dried bean
curd will ever prove as popular at American multiplexes
as popcorn has become in cinemas overseas, but American
moviegoers abroad would be well-advised to check their
snacks before entering a darkened auditorium. With
language barriers, you never know which employee is
going to accidentally
give you the boiled octopus balls.