What Makes Fun Food So Much Fun?

In Honor of Allen Associates taking over WNY Fun Foods, we wanted to pay homage to the fun
foods that make our fun experiences. Allen Associates is proud to announce our up-and-coming
merger with WNY Fun Foods, expanding our offerings to the entire Buffalo, NY region. Like
Allen Associates, WNY Fun Foods is an independent distributor selling the fun foods that so
wonderfully epitomize our event-going experiences.

Have you ever attended a baseball game and not purchased hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jacks,
and a big cold one? What is a movie without a bucket of popcorn? Some events are
synonymous with the foods offered in their concession stands. There is something so special
about settling into your seat at a sporting event or concert and digging into those coveted
snacks. But what is it about those particular foods obtained from a concession stand that makes
them so fun?

Food That’s Made To Be Enjoyed

Pulling apart a funnel cake, licking the powdered sugar off your fingers.
The slow melt of cotton candy on your tongue.
The slick of warm nacho cheese contrasted with crisp, salty chips.
Beads of intensely flavored freeze-dried ice cream sticking to your lips with every spoonful.

The experience of eating these and other fun foods is so enjoyable that it releases dopamine in
our brains, the feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure, reward, and reinforcement.
When we eat delicious food, the brain’s reward center is activated and releases dopamine.
When we eat these dopamine-triggering foods in our formative years, the memories of those
food experiences stick with us for life, lighting up our memory centers well into our golden years.

Food at concession stands tickles our taste buds and draws us in with its wafting scent,
providing a sensory experience possible only at certain special events. Many purveyors of
concessions have put exciting spins on trending or traditional foods to make them even more
fun. There is a novelty in eating Rochester’s infamous garbage plate out of a cup, ice cream out
of plastic baseball helmets, or turning mac n cheese into dippable bites. It’s novel and just plain

The Nostalgia Factor Of Concession Stands

Take me out to the ballgame! In a 2021 study conducted by Oracle, a staggering 85% of
consumers polled were not only missing their in-person sporting events but nostalgic for
stadium food. Food memories are powerful. Certain foods (especially their smell) elicit strong
emotions thanks to the Proust Phenomenon. The Proust Phenomenon is an involuntary
explicit recollection of a memory that occurs when our brain’s amygdala (emotional response
and regulation) and hippocampus (memory) work in concert with the olfactory bulb (odor
processing). This phenomenon makes certain sensory stimulations trigger strong and vivid
memories. These emotional responses are thought to be more powerful than those brought
about by music or pictures. Even just the thought of certain foods can spur one of these
“reminiscence bumps” and elicit feelings of joy and comfort, connecting us to the people and
experiences from our past.

For many, a first baseball game with a parent or grandparent becomes a core memory. Locked
hand-in-hand in our core memories are the sights we saw, the sounds we heard, and the food
we ate with the people we love. All our life worries take a back seat for those few exquisite
hours and our only responsibility is to kick back and enjoy. Every time we approach a stadium or
a concession stand, those memories unconsciously unlock, and we become awash in nostalgia,
overtaken by memories of the whole experience, of togetherness, and of feeling nourished.

Guilty Pleasures and Favorite Comfort Foods

There are certain foods we reserve only for special events or outings. We often know exactly
what we want before we even step foot in the ticket line. It might be reliably salty, warm, and
unctuous. Gooey, creamy, and decadent. Crispy and savory. These fun foods are there for our
sheer enjoyment. It’s not about nutrition, necessarily. It’s about pleasure and fulfilling our
sensory needs. We know it’s not traditionally healthy food, but we are eating it for other forms of
nourishment. Some may call it a “guilty pleasure”, but different types of foods, whether cultural
or just plain fun, offer nourishment in other ways. Most of us are not attending events every
single day. For most healthy adults and children, as one aspect of a balanced diet, these foods
are not void of nutrients and do provide energy, protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The comfort
these foods provide is soul nourishment. They make us feel good and they add so much to our
experience of our favorite time-honored events.

Events + Concessions = An All-Encompassing Experience

Many of the foods we eat at certain events have become synonymous with our entire
experience of the event. For some, a game isn’t a game without a big, hot pretzel. A movie is
not to be viewed without popcorn, a box of candy, and a giant soda. Some even have explicit
rules about not digging into the popcorn until the credits stop rolling and the lights are all the
way down.

The existence of these events in our lives elicits excitement, camaraderie, and ease; the food:
sustenance and joy. Those red and white striped buckets of popcorn, the hot dogs tumbling on
heaters, the cone-headed peanut man approaching our section of the stadium – they are as
predictable as they are enjoyable. Long lines at concessions aren’t a nuisance, they are a
chance to stretch our legs, a gathering place to catch up with friends, lean on family, or rally with
other fans. When the world feels upturned and chaotic, we can escape our troubles in the
stands and always count on our favorite concessions being there.

If you are ready to up the nostalgia and the fun factor at your concession stand or wherever you
offer snacks and sustenance, you’ve come to the right place. We have all the supplies you need
to purvey the most deliciously fun popcorn, kettle corn, Slush Puppies, Slush Puppy machines,
cryogenically frozen ice cream beads, nachos, and so much more. Explore our blog and website
to learn more about each of our programs and offerings and to see how Allen Associates, and
now WNY Fun Foods, can enliven your business and turn the ordinary into EXTRAordinary. We
are always here for you – just reach out.