Healthy Concession Food?

Healthy Concession Options

It seems like the offerings at concessions are getting more extreme (and by extreme, I mean extremely unhealthy) just when culture is getting more health conscious. One example is the ever popular concession menu item: a deep fried version of something that is pretty fattening to begin with. Some examples are deep fried pop-tarts, deep fried oreos… even deep fried butter. Check out our article Happy Fried Day for some other examples.

Are there healthy concession foods?

According to the news website Edina KTSP, the Public Health Department in Bloomington Illinois has mandated that “ 33 percent of food and beverage items [at concession stands] need to be healthy options.”  Concession stands stands are now offering “yogurt, apples, fruit cups, fruit smoothies and non-fat milk” on their menus.

Corn on the Cob Concession

If you are going to eat a vegetable other than french fries at a concession you deserve to reward yourself with a little bit of butter. Corn on the cob is a common concession food.


Concession Stand Popcorn

Plain popcorn without the toppings is a good choice, particularly if you want something to snack on while you are watching a sporting event or performance.


Grilled Hamburger

If the concession grills their burgers, order one but skip the mayo and other fattening toppings. Stick with a single patty and get a whole wheat bun if it’s an option.

When it comes down to it, you can keep your food choices healthier by skipping most of the condiments. According to an article at, you should “avoid any sauces, which are filled with unsaturated fats and unhealthy calories.” In other words, order your popcorn plain and just put pickles and tomatoes on your hotdog (mustard is also a low calorie option).


On the other hand, concession stands are usually at fun events, so when you are there maybe it’s time to take a break from your regular healthy eating habits and have some fun with your food!


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North Carolina Sweet Potato Festival

North Carolina Sweet Potato Festival 

If it’s October, that means it’s time for the North Carolina Sweet Potato Festival which takes place from October 27 to October 29.

The festival is in Snow Hill right across from the Ace Hardware on Highway 13 in Greene County.


Festival Events

Every year they have a photography contest and  a recipe contest. They also have a variety of live music at the Tater Jam Stage and the Harvest Stage, including Sweet Potato Pie, Spare Change, and the Hotsteppers.

Festival Food

Of course, I couldn’t write about this festival without describing the delicious concession treats offered! Unfortunately I’m going to be on the other side of the country when this festival happens, but if I was in North Carolina I would certainly be stopping by the concessions to try out the following treats:

  • sweet potato fries or sweet potato ribbon fries
  • fresh squeezed lemonade
  • grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • fried pickles
  • stuffed pretzels
  • deep-fried oreo cookies

That would be quite the meal, but I think I could manage – it’s all about pacing yourself.

Tailgate packages are also available. Visit the North Carolina Sweet Potato website for more information. And don’t forget to say hello to Spencer the Sweet Potato:


Sweet Potato Facts and Recipes

Check out for some interesting facts about the sweet potato plus some very creative recipes, like this sweet potato dessert:


For example, did you know that North Carolina is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S.A.?  Check out her site for even more information – including a very good reason to add some sweet potatoes to your diet.

According to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, Spanish explorers first came across sweet potatoes growing in Louisiana in 1543. The sweet potato was a staple food for the early settlers and important to survival during the Civil war and Revolutionary war. During the civil war, when supplies were very scarce, sweet potatoes were even brewed as a replacement for coffee.

Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait

When I was A little boy around the table at home. 
I remember fairly well when a’Company would come. 
I would have to be right still until the whole crowd ate. 
My mamma always said to me Jim take an old cold tater and wait. 

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Halloween Events

31 Days Until Halloween

Halloween is so close, it’s scary! There are so many options for concession stands, whether it is a counter set up at our school Halloween dance or a food truck at a Halloween carnival. Here are some ideas:

Halloween Cupcakes

When it comes to these concession cakes, you have two options. You can serve very fancy Halloween cupcakes like these ones below (created with supplies).

halloween cupcakes

Or you can go for very simple cupcakes like the ones below, from

worm cupcakes

Either way, they are sure to be a hoot.

owl cupcakes

The owl cupcakes, above, are from Check out their photo collection of tasty and creative Halloween treats here.

Halloween Drinks

Scare up some ghost Marshmallows with your hot chocolate at your concession stand during the Halloween season.


Or, serve your cold drinks in glow-in-the-dark plastic cups, like these.


Halloween Candy 

Add some seasonal candy to your concession menu, such as these bags of candy corn from Brachs.

Halloween Gift Bouquet

If you’d like to draw a crowd, display a Halloween gift bouquet at your concession stand and ask the event organizer to announce that you are holding a draw and giving it away at the end of the evening.


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Concession Treats in Fall

Fall Concessions

It’s almost the end of the month and Halloween is just around the corner – I have a large pumpkin in my yard, getting bigger every day, to remind me. This got me to thinking – what are  concession stands serving in September? Many concession stands close down after Summer is over, but there are food trucks, indoor concessions and outdoor Fall events still serving up snacks.

Warm Drinks

When the weather cools down, it’s nice to enjoy a warm drink. In fact, according to the proprietor of a hot tea concession stand at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair invented iced tea when no one wanted to buy his hot drinks during the hot weather. Just the beginning of a long standing tradition of transforming everyday foods at state fair concessions across the country (dessert hot dogs, donut hamburger buns, deep-fried soft drinks, etc).


Kaufold’s Country Florist and Farm (pictured above) sells hot tea, hot chocolate and coffee at its concession stand. They are located in Ridge, New York and they feature a trike track, bouncy castle, pumpkin patch, and petting zoo during their Harvest Festival.

Brat Weather

It’s Oktoberfest season, perhaps that’s why the brats sold at Tweite’s Pumpkin Patch concession seem so appealing. Actually, I like them year round – and a bratwurst purchased from a hot dog cart, food truck, or concession stand always tastes the best. Tweite’s is located in Byron, Minnesota and has many attractions, including pumpkinville, a corn maze, mini golf, and a story book land.

pumpkinville concession

 Chili For the Chilly

Indoors, the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio offers the city’s famous Skyline Chili – you can get them 3-way, 4-way, and 5-way. 5-way involves spaghetti, onions, beans, and cheese (and chili, of course).



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Food Truck Festivals

Food Truck Festivals

Food trucks are increasingly popular – concession stands on wheels that offer a delicious variety ranging from the concession classics (hotdogs, burgers) to culinary creative meals. There are reality TV shows about it (The Great Food Truck Race) and also they make cameo appearances on tv sitcoms (one example I can think of right away is the beer truck story line on the Cleveland Show).

Beer Bike


Talking about beer trucks, here is one you can rent for the day – if you are in Germany. Well, actually it’s more of a beer cart or beer bicycle – they call it Party Bike. Check out their website for great photos of all of the fun to be had when you combine beer, bicycles, and a bunch of Germans.

Parked! New York City


On August 20, over 30 food trucks gathered at the South Street Sea Port for a food truck festival called Parked!. You can read more about it at the NYC food blog, Looky Tasty.

Santa Anita Food Truck Festival

Last April, the Santa Anita Food Truck Festival took over the entire infield of the race track (it’s a horse racing park) and featured 80 food trucks, including the famous Grilled Cheese truck and the Lobsta truck. Check out the Santa Anita website for a droolifying list of the other trucks there and then start planning your visit for next year.

Big Trucks At Little Rock


In just a few days, Little Rock Arkansas will host its first Food Truck Festival. It is going to take place on Main between 3rd and 7th on October 1st.

Haute Texas



The Haute Wheels Houston festival specialized in culinary creations froms some of the best chefs in the city – they took over the Southwest campus of Houston Community College last May. No word if this is an annual event or not – to read about Houston’s first food truck festival, visit their site Almost 3,000 people like their Facebook page so I’m guessing the event was a success.

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Concession Obsession: Souvlaki


I enjoy Greek food, so I’ve been to quite a few Greek restaurants in my time. I also order souvlaki, calamari, and greek salad from restaurants that deliver Greek Food. However, I have to say that the best souvlaki I’ve ever had is the souvlaki sold from a Greek food truck or concession stand. I particularly like it when they heat up the pita on the grill and then serve the souvlaki wrapped inside with tomatoes, onion, and tsatsiki sauce.

Pork Souvlaki

Flikr Photo By esimpraim

In fact, I just enjoyed a chicken souvlaki like this today – purchased from a food cart right outside the train station. The combination of the sunshine, the freshly baked grilled pita and the tender chicken made this the best lunch I’ve had all month.

Souvlaki circa 1985

Flikr Photo By wonderferret

Songs About Souvlaki

Here is a song by the amazing band Slowdive. It has Souvlaki in the song title, but is more spacey than spicey:

The History of Souvlaki

Traditional souvlaki is apparently almost always lamb, although pork is used too (it’s cheaper). I just found out that chicken souvlaki is usually reserved for the tourists (thanks, Wikipedia). The word itself derives from the Greek word for skewer. The ancient word for it was ὀβελίσκος and similar recipes date back to the time of Homer.


According to, there are references to street vendors selling souvlakia with pita in Constantinople in Byzantine times (700 BC).

Souvlaki Recipes

Checkout for a Greek Souvlaki recipe that has received 5 stars. It can be used for pork or lamb. You can also buy skewers of souvlaki that are ready to grill at many grocery stores. Or, for the best flavor and the most fun, head over to the state fair or city food cart and enjoy the fresh air and fresh taste of this concession obsession!

Check out other concession obsession features here at driving and dining. We have featured everything from french fries, to taco in a bag, and ice cream sandwiches. If you can buy it at a concession stand or food truck, you will see it here. Yum!

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Driving and Dining: My 7 Links

Driving and Dining was nominated to participate in the TripBase 7 links meme. A big thank you to Traci over at Go Big or Go Home for the nomination! Here are 7 links to previous posts here at – a sort of ‘best of’ list that is a great way for new visitors to get a tour of our articles about roadside attractions, local parades, community festivals and all of the delicious concessionfood at the best concessions stands in America, along the way.

7 Links Meme

So without further fanfare, here are my 7 links:


Most Beautiful Post

I think my most beautiful post is my Concession Obsession feature on Candy Apples. Candy apple red is one of my favorite colors.

Most Popular Post

My post about Loretta Lynn’s kitchen in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee is the most popular post at Her fans are understandably very loyal and I can’t decide what is the best part of her restaurant: the menu or the gift shop.

concession stand hamburger

Most Controversial Post

My subject matter is not controversial at all, but I found out there is at least one passionate hamburger historian out there who did not agree with my research for my Concession Obsession feature: Hamburger History.

Most Helpful Post

I think the most helpful post here is about Farmer’s Markets - it offers some directories, some tips, and some encouragement.


Surprisingly Successful

My post about the various Christmas theme parks was more successful than I thought it would be: Santa Land USA.


The first official post at has it all: history, celebrities, a diner- and even a haunted hotel. Eat a Joe’s Sleep at the Monte Vista is all about two tourist sites in Flagstaff, Arizona that I visited.

Most Excellent

In the words of the famous travellers Bill and Ted, I think this post is most excellent. Bunnytown, USA. I really enjoyed researching and writing this article and I even received an email from the mayor of Bunnytown, which was the best Easter present ever. It’s the reason I love writing for so much and a great way to end off my list.

And the nominations are…

According to the Tripbase 7 links meme rules, I now can nominate up to 5 other blogs. I tried to nominate a few other travel bloggers but they were already participating. I am nominating Mom Zombie – her recent post about bears still resonates with me. I recently pulled over at a rest stop and I was extra cautious exploring the forest paths with my daughter. She writes about many topics- including travels- and is a skilled storyteller. The rules say “Feel free to nominate any kind of blog to take part – we want this project to be as inclusive as possible,” so I’m going to go ahead and nominate – that’s my personal (and oldest) blog and unlikely to be nominated by anyone else, but I feel like it would benefit from a ‘best of’ list (and I’m looking forward to digging through it).

If you’re reading this and you would like to be nominated, let me know in the comments and I will check out your site.

You can check out other 7 link stories and discover lots of cool sites at the TripBase twitter feed.

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Roadside Fruit: Big Fruit Sculptures

Giant Apple, Oranges, and Strawberries

What is it about fruit that inspires people to make gigantic versions? Sure, at its core this type of attraction is smart marketing- but it is also valuable as folk art. The decision to build a giant-sized replica of fruit is much bolder than painting a billboard, and I personally think it’s one of those decisions that makes life (and road trips) so much more interesting (and fun).

Big Apples

Giant Apple

According to the, there are large scale apples in Maryland, New York, Wisconsin, Georgia and Ohio. At this site you can also see photos of the many apple sculptures found in Winchester, Virginia. Or, check out one of my favorite sites Go Big or Go Home, for an article that includes a visit to Winchester Virginia and photos of the apples. Visit Winchester at the end of April or Early May and you can join in on the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which includes over 30 events (a parade, a 10k race, a carnival, wine tastings…).

The apple pictured above is a time capsule that will be opened in 2040 (location unknown).

Big Oranges


A site at has an interesting collection called the ‘World’s Biggest Fruits‘ (most of them are in Australia, but that is where I found out about the big Orange restaurant in Gibeau, Montreal- pictured above.).

Big Strawberry


Strawberry Point, Iowa is home to the world’s largest strawberry. It’s perched in front of the City Hall/Police Department. Strawberry Point has also been the home of the Backbone Bluegrass Festival for over 30 years.

I know I’ve seen some concession stands in the shape of fruit during my travels, but I can’t remember where. If you know of any fruit-shaped concessions please let me know.

Other Driving and Dining articles about roadside attractions:

Wigwam Hotels and TeePee Curios

The Devil’s Rope Museam

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Fresh Fruit Stands and Farm Stands

Concession Obsession: Fresh Fruit

Could it be? Could Driving and Driving be writing about food that is… healthy? Yes, it’s true, today we are looking at the freshest, most healthy concession food of all – fresh fruit bought at a fruit stand by the side of the road.

Even foolish fruit phobics who are stubbornly on their way to developing scurvy break down and eat fruit when it’s sold on the side of the road. And, there is no better time to for this type of refreshing snack, then when you are on a roadtrip in the summer. The hottest month of August is just around the corner, so let’s take a look at some of the treats available at roadside stands:


California Fruit Stands

Otow Orchard fruit stand, in Granite Bay California, has a blog so that you can keep up to date on what fruits are available – they post beautiful photos as well. Right now they have Suncrest peaches which are a “sweet, juicy yellow heirloom peach that are difficult to find” because they are difficult to ship.

The photo above is from – a site that sells a huge variety of trees in case you want to start an orchard of your own.

Montana Orchard Stands

It’s fun to poke around inside the fruit stand and see what’s on their shelves. I always stock up on homemade jam (raspberry is my favorite). The Orchard at Flathead Lake sells an apple butter made using their grandmother’s recipe, so you know it’s got to be good. They also sell a jam made with organic dark sweet cherries. If you’re not driving through Montana, you can order their products online at their website.


Often there are some unique local recipes available – like this cherry bbq sauce, which is interesting. Look for local recipe books, too.

Massachusetts Farm Stands


Hager’s farm stand on the Mohawk Trail in Shelburne, Massachusetts sells maple products, beef, pork, bread, pies, local beer and wine, and – of course- fruit. They’ve been there for five generations and they have a delicious breakfast menu, if you are driving through the area it looks like the perfect stop.

Franklin County, Massachusetts is also the location of a yearly Cider Days festival – which you can read about at

Washington Farm Stands

There are fruit stands and farm stands all across the country, and this is the perfect time to go check them out. If you have a local stand that you want us to know about, or if you discover one during your summer travels, please tell us all about it.


Pictured above: Colell’s farm stand, Port Orchard Washington.


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Concession Obsession: a French Fries Festival

French Fries Festival

Recently Driving and Dining has been in a bit of an aqua fit: writing about mermaids, surfing, and water parks. Today we move from the deep sea to the deep fryer, as we take a look at all things french fried for our latest Concession Obsession feature. American fried is more accurate for this article – here’s a tour of some of our favorite ways to deep fry a potato and sell it at a stand:

Skinny Fries

Otherwise known as shoe string potatoes, these fries are deliciously designed for dipping.


Steak Fries

Steak Fries

Often served with a steak, so that’s where the name comes from. This type of french fry is also the one most frequently made at home, so sometimes they are also called home fries. The Food Network has a popular recipe that has 5 stars if you feel like cooking up some Old Bay Grilled Steak Fries on the barbecue. You can also bake your fries instead of frying them. Not only healthier but also less of a mess. Deep fried french fries always taste best from a stand anyways.

Waffle Fries


Ribbon Fries

Also known as wiggle chips and closely related to curly fries.

Ribbon Fries - Prepare Yourself

French Fried Facts

French Films

Don’t expect the movies Home Fries, Freedom Fries, or Fries With Curry to have anything to do with this delicious potato snack or side dish. The French Fry Diary blog points out that this “seems to be the rule with movies with the word ‘fries’ in the title.” Check out the French Fry Diary for writer Glenn Walker’s reviews of french fries in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area.

French Fried Folklore

The name ‘french fries’ comes from Thomas Jefferson’s description of “potatoes, fried in the French manner.” Check out my previous ode to the potatofor more history (and don’t forget to prepare to celebrate Potato Day on August 19!).

Let me know if I missed any types of french fries and I’ll used them in a future french fry feature.

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