This Is What Movie-Theater Foods Looked Like in the 1990s
Movie theater foods have come a long way since the early days. The first movie theater, opened in January 1905, was called the "Nickelodeon," which at the time was a made-up word that combined the "nickel" price of admission and the Greek word for theater, "odeon." And while movie theater snacks weren't a thing back then, they definitely are now.
The earliest movie theaters didn't offer food, and some theater owners were downright hostile toward the idea. But economic necessity during the Great Depression ushered popcorn into movie theaters. Candy soon followed, with nachos joining the repertoire in the 1980s, paving the way for hot dogs, soft pretzels dipped in gooey cheese, Dippin' Dots, Icees and Arctic Blasts, and now, in participating theaters, full-on dinner service.
But in movie theaters, as in life, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As novel as it might seem to enjoy a burger or a slice of cake while watching the latest Star Wars installment, the popularity of popcorn and candy has only increased over the years, with classic candies like Mike & Ike and Sno-Caps continuing to maintain a stronghold. Here are some popular '90s movie snacks, most of which are still around today.
Junior Mints, those creamy, minty, chocolate-covered blobs, have been a prominent part of the movie-goer's eating experience since the middle of the 20th century. While there's no one reason for the enduring popularity of Junior Mints in movie theaters, it's undeniable that the eponymously named Seinfeld episode had a hand in raising the Junior Mints profile.
"Who's gonna turn down a Junior Mint?" Kramer famously asks Jerry. "It's chocolate, it's peppermint; it's delicious!" Never mind that the episode features a Junior Mint falling into the body cavity of a patient on an operating table. In fact, the episode implies it's entirely possible the Junior Mint saved the patient's life. But even if the Junior Mint hadn't worked a "miracle from above," the Seinfeld name-check was clearly a significant energy shot for this classic movie theater sweet.
Just one year after Seinfeld cemented Junior Mints' place as a favorite movie theater food, the same thing happened with another movie theater classic. In the 1994 Seinfeld episode, "The Opposite," Elaine is waiting for her date at a movie theater when she receives news he's been rushed to the hospital. Dutifully, Elaine rushes to be by her date's side…but not before buying herself a movie-theater-sized box of Jujyfruits. Not cool, apparently. Nevertheless, Jujyfruits went into the episode as a star of the movie industry (well, at least the movie theater concession industry) and came out an even bigger star. Watching Elaine chow down on Jujyfruits made these oddly-shaped fruity chewy candies seem nothing if not irresistible.
Despite that Butterfinger is famous for being Bart Simpson's favorite candy, Butterfinger has never been as popular as, say, Snickers. Nevertheless, its popularity surged in 1992 when it was sized down into Butterfinger BBs and plugged by the Simpsons character himself. Unlike Everlasting Gobstoppers, whose charm all but evaporated when they were downsized for movie theater consumption, Butterfinger BBs captured everything that was good about the Butterfinger-eating experience in a single, perfect bite.
We may never know why Butterfinger BB's were discontinued, but movie-goers will forever feel their absence.
Nestle Buncha Crunch
Here's a thought. Could it be Butterfinger BBs' undoing was the introduction of Nestle Buncha Crunch in 1994? Two years after Butterfinger introduced its bite-sized version of its iconic candy bar, Nestle did the same with Crunch releasing Buncha Crunch (bite-sized chunks of milk chocolate, studded with crisped rice) in 1994. Buncha Crunch quickly became a movie theater phenomenon and is still around today.
Cookie Dough Bites
Cookie Dough Bites would never have been invented, let alone have made their way into movie theaters, if it weren't for the "cookie dough as food" trend that began in the mid-1980s. "People from all over wanted a delicious cookie dough candy—yet it simply did not exist," the company website explains. Initially, Cookie Dough Bites were only movie theater candy. In other words, if you wanted the sweet taste of chocolate-covered cookie dough candy, you'd have to take that craving with you to the movie theater.
Eventually, Cookie Dough Bites expanded into other kinds of "bites," including Fudge Brownie Cookie Dough Bites and Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites. By the turn of the millennium, they became available outside of movie theaters. But they're still, and will always remain, a classic '90s movie snack to us.