Concession Obsession: Hot Chocolate

I Hot Chocolate

Today, an ode to hot chocolate – a sweet treat popular around the world and available everywhere: from fancy restaurants to vending machines, concession stands to the comfort of your own home.


Hot Chocolate History


The Spanish Conquistador Cortez of Mexico had a goblet of hot chocolate every day – but it was actually a cold drink.

hernan cortez

Okay, which one of you wiseguys took my chocolate?!

The Aztec Emperor Montezuma introduced it to him – it was bitter and frothy and the ‘hot’ was not its temperature, but the chili peppers.

During Montezuma’s time, Xocolatl was associated with the goddess of fertility Xochiquetzal and many people still consider it an aphrodisiac today.

Hot Hot Hot

Press play below for the perfect soundtrack to this article: “You Sexy Thing” by, you guessed it, British disco sensations Hot Chocolate:

Hot Chocolate Arrives In Europe

Cortez brought the drink to Europe, and Spaniards started heating up a sweetened version and that’s the hot chocolate we know today. Chocolate became very popular with the upper classes.


It was also very expensive, because it had to be shipped over from South America.


What’s the Difference Between Hot Chocolate and Cocoa?

While often used interchangeably, hot chocolate is made from solid chocolate and cocoa is made from powder.

Hot Chocolate Around the World

Today, Mexican hot chocolate is now also served hot instead of cold and given some heat with cinnamon instead of chili peppers.


In Italy and Spain, corn starch is added to hot chocolate to make it thicker.

Here is a video of Jacque Torres, also known as Mr. Chocolate, sharing how to make the best hot chocolate ever. (Although, he is actually using chocolate powder so now that we are experts, we know he is really making cocoa.)

In North America, many of us prefer our hot chocolate with marshmallows or whipped cream. When we get really fancy, we add a dusting of chocolate powder, shavings, or sprinkles. Some adults even like to spike their hot chocolate with an Irish Creme or coffee flavored liqueur.

Generally our ‘hot chocolate’ comes from a can, so it’s proper name is cocoa. However, hot chocolate is definitely one of my concession obsessions. There is nothing better than a cup of hot cocoa when you buy it from a concession at an ice rink or outdoor event on a chilly day.

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Welcome to Santa Land, USA

They are open year round but it seems like this month is an appropriate time to write about the Santa Claus themed parks around the  U.S.

A Driving and Dining Christmas


Roadside attractions seem to be closing down left and right, yet you just have to look online to see how many people love the fun and nostalgia (and food) to be found during a visit. I believe that the sculptures and figurines that make up these attractions are important pieces of folk art, history, and (in the case of U.S. sites) Americana.

Christmas Amusement Parks & Theme Parks


AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Roadsidepictures

New York’s Santa’s Workshop claims that they are America’s oldest theme park – they’ve been operating since 1949.

This attraction is one of the best we’ve seen – it has rides, shows, and several shops – including a post office where you can mail a post card which will actually be postmarked from the North Pole (New York). They also have candy, stocking making, glass blowing, and blacksmith shops. (Blacksmith, you ask? To make reindeer shoes, of course…)

At the Lindale Santa Land you can catch a ride on Santa’s trailer and admire over 2.5 million lights in the 24 acre drive thru experience, Texas style. But watch out for the marshmallow monster! Afterwards you can recuperate with some hot cider or hot chocolate at the concession truck and fresh gingerbread goodies at the gift shop.

Sadly, the Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana is actually closed during the Christmas season. If you visit it after it reopens in the Spring, you can take a ride on the Wildebeest. (Don’t be scared, that’s the name of the world’s longest water coaster.)

Other Santa or Christmas themed attractions are permanently shut down. According to, Santa Claus Lane of Carpenteria, California has been turned into an English Style themed fishing village (not as a tribute to famous California residents and musical geniuses, the Carpenters, as I had hoped).

Here is interesting (yet sad, and even creepy) footage of an abandoned Santa’s Village in East Dundee, Illinois:

If you are reading this article, please make a visit to a local attraction part of your holiday traditions (and don’t forget to buy a souvenir and eat at the concession while you’re at it!).

Christmas Theme Parks Around the World

Santa Park – Finland

What better place then the habitat of real, live reindeer?!

Everland Theme Park – South Korea

Everland transforms into a Christmas theme park once a year – featuring parades, Christmas trees, and even a fake snow fall. They also advertise their new ‘Herbivore Safari’ (hopefully not replacing an ill-fated ‘Carnivore Safari’- due to the costs of constantly replacing the smaller animals and the occasional park employee…).

Village du Pere Noel – Canada

Located in Quebec, a part of Canada that loves winter so much, they hold a carnival to celebrate the season and the guest of honor is a snowman (Le Bonhomme de Neige).


Christmas Park, Mountain View Nature Park – The Philippines

You can read about this park at My Cebu Photo Blog.

Christmas Parks, Listed alphabetically by State:

Santa’s Theme Park – Chandler, Arizona

Fantasy of Lights – Los Gatos, California

Santa’s Workshop, North Pole – Cascade, Colorado

Holiday World – Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa’s Village – Jefferson, New Hampshire

Santa’s Workshop – North Pole, New York

Santa’s Land – Cherokee, North Carolina

Santa Land (The Magic Forest) – Lindale, Texas

Santa’s Land – Putney, Vermont

For a fantastic and comprehensive collection of photos, please visit the Fairy Tale Parks/Santa Parks image pool at Flickr.

Did We Miss Any?

Please let me know if I’ve missed any sites to add to the list. Also, I am currently researching religious attractions for the next article (Christmas, Hanukkah, or other religious holidays celebrated in December). We always love to hear first-hand reviews and stories, too – please share in the comments below:

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Christmas Markets

Market On Your Calendar: Christmas Markets Near You

‘Tis the season, and Christmas markets are setting up all over the world. They exist predominantly in Germany and the UK, but there are markets in many other countries (France, Estonia, Austria, Italy, Poland).


The oldest Christmas market is in Dresden, Germany – it has been around since at least 1434. It is called the Striezelmarkt- Striezel is the traditional Christmas loaf baked with fruit and nuts (also known as Stollen).


The largest Christmas market in Copenhagen,  the Tivolis Julemarked, takes place at Tivoli Gardens, Europe’s oldest amusement park. Concession stands sell gløgg (a spicy mulled wine drink), æbleskiver (flat doughnuts/pancakes served with jam), pickled herring, roasted chestnuts, and meatballs.

U.S.A. Christmas Markets

The biggest Christmas Market in the U.S. is in Chicago and is modelled after the German Christmas market (Christkndlmarkt). It attracts 300,000 visitors a year. It is so seriously German that its website is bilingual. It opened yesterday, so some one send me a plane ticket because all of the best German street food will be available, plus beer, Glühwein (mulled wine) and hot chocolate to wash it down. Visitors will be able to enjoy Brotzeit (freshly baked rolls filled with meat and cheese), Stollen, Bratapfeln (baked apples), Strudel, Schnitzel, Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), Currywurst, and a huge variety of other sausages (Frankfurter, Nurnberger, Thuringer, and more). Hungry yet?

Christmas Market Food

If there isn’t a Christmas market near you, here are a few do-it-yourself goodies inspired by the traditional, seasonal fare found at market concessions:

Curry in a Hurry

You don’t have to go far to find out more about Currywurst – has already featured this savoury snack in one of our ‘Concession Obssession‘ articles.



They  sound like a character from a Dr. Seuss book and I’m flat out crazy about potato pancakes. I also talk about these delicious fried potato fritters  in the same article mentioned above.

Eat It Quick Or It May Be Stollen


Stollen is available at several grocery store chains across North America in December – some of it is even actually from Germany. You can also make your own, there is a recipe at that looks good.

Christmas Market Listings

Is this tasty article making you crave more information about Christmas markets? I recommend the following sites:

Europe’s Top 10 Christmas Markets

Directory of U.S. Christmas Markets

Directory of Christmas Markets by Country

Top Christmas Markets in Europe

Christmas Market Stories

If you have a story about your visit to a Christmas market, we would love to hear about it! At least give our taste buds a tease and leave a comment about which market you visited, and what you ate there!

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Top Sites for Concession Stand Reviews

Other Confessed Concession Obsessed

If you’ve been here before, you know that I am a pretty huge fan of concession food. If you can buy it from a trailer, a cart, a food truck, or a concession counter – I am probably writing (and drooling) about it here at

Once in a while I come across a kindred spirit while I’m drooling down the information highway, researching the history of the giant pretzel or compiling a list of deep fried delicacies. So, today I thought I would pay tribute to the most impressive concession review sites I have discovered during my travels:


Brooklyn Is Better

This is a YouTube channel only (they don’t have a blog or website). These guys upload videos of themselves sampling food primarily from New York city. I dare you not to get hungry watching the Brooklyn is Better videos. They feature street food, as well as restaurant food and other non-tasty but still interesting New York attractions.

Teenage Glutster

Javier Cabral, in East Los Angeles California, is “discovering [him]self through food, booze and punk rock at his blog Teenage Glutster. In the video below he gives us a tour of the street concessions for an outdoor event.

The Chronicles of Nat

Natasha lives in Hunstville, Alabama and includes reviews of concessions on her blog, The Chronicles of Nat (I think she has about 10 reviews up so far). If you are a Coca Cola fan and you attend a lot of sporting events in Huntsville you need to visit her blog so that you know which schools are ‘Pepsi’ schools. If you don’t care either way (I prefer Dr. Pepper) you should take into account the fact that she dings concessions that only serve Pepsi when you look at her rating system. Overall, her reviews are detailed and very funny. She also includes her own photos.


VendrTV is a podcast that is “discovering the world’s best street food, one bite at a time.” Here, host Dan Delaney reviews the Potato Champion of Portland, Oregon.

If you are also obsessed with concession style food, please check out some of the mobile munchies, from mobile kitchens, we have featured in the past or subscribe and get new articles delivered straight to you!

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Happy Fried Day

Happy Fried Day!

Welcome to another instalment of Concession Obsession. Today we will feature the strange world of deep fried concession food.

The Classic – Onion Rings

A trip to an amusement park or baseball game isn’t the same without some onion rings – hot out of the fry basket, it’s the perfect compliment to a cold beer or the perfect way to warm up a bit on a cold day.


The Out of the This World – The Deep Fried Mars Bar


Deep Fried Drinks?


Four years ago a vendor at the state fair in Texas (birthplace of many of the craziest most delicious concession foods) started selling Deep Fried Coke. Coca Cola. Yep. He fried up coca cola flavored batter and then drizzled coke fountain syrup over it, garnished with whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry (

Deep Fried White Castle Burger

If you were asking yourself, now who would eat a deep-fried burger – here’s someone caught in the act. (I’d try one. Wouldn’t you?)

Wham Bam Thank You Spam

Just in case deep-fried Spam seems trashy, you get some classy pineapple slices…


Senior Twinkie


The Twinkie is 80 years old and has become an American icon of sorts. A normal twinkie takes 10 minutes to bake and is 150 calories ( Add some batter and a few more minutes in a vat of grease and you have yourself a 425 calorie concession treat ( I haven’t tried one yet, but I bet it’s worth it!

Leaving a Sour Taste in Your Mouth – The Deep Fried Pickle


Deep Fried Directory

Here is a collection of some other deep fried delicacies available at concession stands (if you’re not craving greasy food by now, this will do it). If that’s not good enough for you, check out some of the other articles here at If you can buy it from a trailer, a cart, or a concession counter – I am probably writing (and drooling) about it in my concession obsession features.

Deep-fried cheesecake

Deep-fried butter

Deep-fried pecan pie (this is so going on my list of foods I have to try)

Deep-fried beer-filled pretzel

Deep-fried macaroni & cheese

Deep-fried oreos

Deep-fried bacon

Deep-fried pizza

Deep-fried chocolate chip cookie dough

Deep-fried pop tarts

Deep-fried frozen margarita

Deep-fried Cadbury Creme Egg (oh my!)

Deep-fried vegetables (various: corn, olives)

Deep-fried fruit (various: peaches, pineapple, coconut, bananas)

Deep-fried jam sandwiches

Did I miss any?

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Apple Festivals

It’s Apple Season

It’s apple season and my husband and our two daughters headed out to our local apple festival. Next year, we will arrive early because we got there an hour before the end and they had sold out of apples! They also didn’t have any apple pie left. Sigh.

On a happier note, we had a lot of fun in the toddler’s apple orchard – there were crafts, face painting, and there was a live band performing.

There were also concession stands offering sweet and savoury almonds, chili, coffee, and kettle corn. The October afternoon was bright, crisp and fresh- the perfect weather for an apple festival and also the perfect description for apples in general.

I left the festival craving all things apple, so I’m going to share some of my favorites with you. Make sure you click on the songs below while you browse for the perfect apple soundtrack…

Apple Singalong

Little Green Apples

You Are The Apple of My Eye

Apple Everything

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” (Martin Luther)

Apple Pie

If you live near Fennville, Michigan you can get this fabulous looking pie delivered to your house. Cranes Pie Pantry will send them out either fresh or frozen, it’s as easy as…


“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” (Carl Sagan)

Or, you could make your own apple pie. Here’s a recipe that looks tasty from the always reliable KittenCal’s Kitchen: Easy Apple Pie with Peanut Butter Crumb Topping.

Healthy Halloween Snacks

Just in time for Halloween, a healthy alternative to all of that Halloween candy, from the blog “Thoughts From an Evil Overlord” (it’s not as frightening as it sounds, unless you think an auntie who writes about crafts and is interested in word puzzles and reading is scary – sounds positively charming to me!).


The Big Apple

Of course, one of my all-time favorite apples – the big apple!

“There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.” (John J. Fitz Gerald)

Baby Apples

Check out the cute little apple baby rattle at (Surprising as this might be, they have lots of other apple-y stuff, too.)


Apple Appies

While you’re here you might as well read about one of’s concession obsessions: the candy apple.


Find an Apple Festival Near You

Apple Festivals in the US, Canada, Britain and Australia

Apple Festivals in the US

Apple Festivals in the South Eastern US

Craving apple yet? Maybe an apple fritter? Or some apple crumble? What’s your favorite apple treat?

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Pumpkin Patches, Pumpkin Festivals, Pumpkin Treats

World’s Biggest Pumpkins

Howard Dill of Nova Scotia is given credit for starting the giant pumpkin craze. According to, he has won the Guiness title for world’s largest pumpkin four times.  He also developed Dill’s Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Seeds.

World’s Fastest Pumpkin?


This pumpkin carriage was made by Kenny Tetrault at

Windsor, Nova Scotia

The Windsor Pumpkin Regatta is held annually in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Participants row giant pumpkins across Lake Pesaqid.

Windsor, California

In Sonoma, California participants at the Windsor Pumpkin Festival make cars out of pumpkins and race them.

Welcome to Halloween Country

This time of year, pumpkin patches start sprouting up all over the country. Pumpkin Patches And More –  this site allows you to search for pumpkin patches by state. They also have international listings of pumpkin patches located in Canada, New Zealand, the UK, South Africa, and Australia.

Pumpkin Treats

In my ongoing quest to find delicious (and unique) concession foods in communities across the country, I thought I’d do a little research to see if there were any special seasonal concession foods made with pumpkin. Even some treats that are pumpkin-shaped would suffice.

Windsor Pumpkin Festival

Aside from racing pumpkin cars, the folks in Windsor, California also serve up a wide variety of pumpkin desserts at noon at the Farmer’s Market, made by local chefs and student at the Culinary Arts division of the local  high school. There is also a parade, giant pumpkin contest, Oops the clown, and a scarecrow contest.

Sante Fe Dam Pumpkin Patch (Wheel Fun Rentals)

This pumpkin patch in Irwindale, California has a craft shack, haunted carriages, a bounce house, super slides, pedal boats, kayaks, and hay rides. There’s so much to do there, it’s scary. They have a concession with hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, caramel corn, and caramel apples (you know where you’d find me!) but nothing pumpkin-esque…

Have you ever tried any interesting pumpkin treats at a festival or pumpkin patch concession? Let us know and we might feature it in the next article.

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Concession Obsession: Candy Apples

Candy Apples

Today we take a look at a common concession confection: the candy apple. Personally, I always think these things are much more appealing in theory than the actual experience – but some people out there must love them because they are very popular.

Candy Apple Concession Stand Pink at Carnival

While many people tend to call apples wrapped or dipped in any sweet substance a candy apple, this is not entirely accurate. The most basic candy (or candied) apple is covered in a mixture of sugar, corn syrup and food coloring, while a caramel (or taffy) apple is dipped (or in some cases wrapped) in caramel. There are also varieties that are dipped in chocolate. There is also a cinnamon candied apple – the recipe at homemade-dessert-recipes includes hot cinnamon heart candies and cloves.

Like cotton candy, the candy apple is such a popular concession obsession that there is a color named after it:

Candy Apple Red


An easy recipe for caramel apples at uses a package of caramels, apples and water (from past experience let me warn you taht the most difficult part will be unwrapping all of those candies if you can’t find ones that aren’t individually wrapped).


Just in time for Halloween, the white-chocolate-drizzled-so-good-looking-its-scary candy apple from


Or you can dress up your apples, like the cute apples from


Candy Apples Don’t Have to be Sweet

Calorie friendly and kind of creepy – these wedges from feature candy apples and razor blades. Yikes. I love them!

DKNY also has a candy apple scent line, the red apple is apple raspberry:


If you can buy it from a trailer, a cart, or a concession counter – I am probably writing (and drooling) about it here at Some of my guilty pleasures so far: giant pretzels, the corn dog, funnel cakes, and others. Stay tuned for more or subscribe and get new articles delivered straight to you!

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Tabletop Jukeboxes

The History of the Jukebox

The original source of the word “juke” is uncertain, but the importance of the jukebox to rock and roll history is indisputable. According to, ‘jook’ may have once meant ‘dance.’ The first jukebox appeared in 1927 and they gained popularity as entertainment in speakeasies during prohibition.

Let the Jukebox Keep On Playin’

Hillbilly/Rockabilly Carl Perkins 1955

However, the best part of the jukebox is that it brought rockabilly and the blues to the average person – styles of music not thought dignified enough for most radio broadcasts or concert venues at the time.

In my perfect world, there would still be a little jukebox on every table in every diner across the country. I don’t mean the big chain restaurants, but if you have vinyl seated booths, a lunch counter, and the word ‘diner’ in your name – if you have burgers and shakes on your menu – then you should have tabletop jukeboxes. I looked around online and I couldn’t find any old ones for sale, so here’s hoping there are original ones still out there (hooked up to a larger, record-playing jukebox) still being used.

House of Rock and Roll

There are replicas of the tabletop jukebox available for home- some even play music…

This tabletop replica actually plays cassettes and an am/fm radio, so it is almost as retro as the original version. It’s advertised at, but the link to the company is broken so I think they may not be available anymore.


The Jukemaster shown below is probably my favorite home version of the tabletop jukebox – it comes with a CD of 100 classic songs which matches the flip chart inside. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find an online store that actually has one in stock (pictured above, Jukemaster at


Rock around the Clock

Rockola jukeboxes were once almost as popular as the Wurlitzer (interesting trivia: the company owner’s last name was actually Rockola, it wasn’t named after rock and roll at all).


Calling All Diners

If you know about a diner that still has tabletop jukeboxes, please leave us a comment so that we can spread the word. Thanks!

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Celebrate the End of Summer

St. Susanna’s 2010 Family End of Summer Festival

The St. Susanna Catholic Church, in Mason Ohio, holds an annual End of Summer Festival featuring the Mason Comet Skipper Jump Rope Team, Magician Tom Bemmes, and the Big Juicy Ham Band – not to mention carnival rides and bingo. The festival is September 10 – 12 and is alternately billed as the “St. Susanna’s 2010 Family Festival” and the “End of Summer Festival.” Either way,  it sounds fun. Mason, Ohio is about 20 miles away from Cincinnati.


Basket Case

According to their website, “The Basket Booth continues to be one of the most successful parts of the Festival fun!” People donate themed baskets and then they are available at a booth -not sure exactly what this all means, but I’m dying to buy one already. (Or do you win them?)

Concession Obsession

The “delicious dining guide” lists tacos in a bag, corn on the cob, root beer floats, and funnel cakes among other enticing concession goodies.

Tacos in a Bag

Taco in a Bag Concession Food


I’d never heard of tacos in a bag before, but I found an explanation at “The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.” Apparently you crush a bag of Doritos, add all sorts of delicious taco toppings (sour cream, ground beef, lettuce, tomato, etc), and then eat it out of the bag with a fork. There are concession stands that sell this delicious treat. I wonder if they offer different flavors of Doritos as an option. I have my own version of this that I made up when I was still at college – I used to open up a bag of nacho chips at my local Kwik-E-Mart and then stick it under the cheese machine in the hot dog toppings section. (Tip: purchase the chips first, or risk interference from the staff.)

Corn on the Cob


Corn is such a popular ingredient at concessions, it may require it’s own article. Corn on the cob tastes the best in two settings: carnivals/state fairs and camping. Am I right? Check out’s article ‘Giant Novelty Food Hats Are Ugly‘ and see if you can tell me what flavor of ice cream that guy is wearing.

Do you have a local festival or community event that you’d like to see at We are always interested in featuring unique events and local concession creations, so please leave a comment below and we’ll be in touch!

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