How about a Sqworm?

April 08, 2001|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

LAS VEGAS -- Purveyors of popcorn and pop at the recent National Association of Theater Owners / ShoWest convention had no real reason to fear that some upstart company would introduce a treat so universally appealing that it could turn the concessions business on it head.

Still, it was amusing, at least, to sample some of the wares that were laid out by pretenders to the crown.

"I wanted to develop a shish kebab without a skewer, and then I figured out a way to prepare a hamburger patty without a casing, in a convenient shape like a hot dog," said Shlomy Weingarten, CEO of Hi Five Foods Inc., which introduced the "Burgerpipe" sandwich at ShoWest. "It can be held in one hand, and there are no chemicals or preservatives. Basically, anywhere you once prepared a hot dog, you now can serve a hamburger."

And once one gets over the psychological discomfort of a cigar-shaped burger, Burgerpipe scores pretty well in a test nosh.

The folks at Pop N Go, meanwhile, displayed their Model 7000 hot-air popcorn vending machine. All customers have to do is put a dollar or so into the Model 7000 machine and wait up to 90 seconds while their healthy treat is popped fresh, before their eyes.

Oh, and Pop N Go is encouraging exhibitors to offer their customers separately wrapped tubes of fat-free flavoring, called FlixStix.

Unless you have a savage sweet tooth, you probably aren't aware of the amazing variety of candies available today doing battle with old standbys like Dots, Junior Mints and Milk Duds.

"We have our new Nerds Rope, which is a skinny piece of candy with tiny pieces of Nerds stuck to it," said Corry Wofford, of Nestle USA, holding a foot-long confection dotted with chunks of candy. "You can undo it, stretch it, roll it -- and the Nerds don't come off. We also have these Wonderballs, which are hollow pieces of chocolate that can be broken into pieces. Inside, there are little pieces of SweetTarts, which are formed in different Disney characters."

Fat-free Nuclear Sqworms are described as "sour neon gummi worms," and Squishes are soft, red, fish-shaped candies.

Maybe, but don't expect popcorn to take a back seat in movie-theater snack bars any time soon.

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