Thinking About Snacks for your Concession Business? These 15 Foods are Highly Profitable

What is the Most Profitable Concession Food in the US?

The concession industry reached $3 billion in revenue in 2018. It encapsulates a variety of businesses, from street food vendors to those who serve food at special events.

Concession businesses tend to be especially busy during warm months, since the often operate outdoors or during major events. However, there are enough food options available that you can find something for nearly any niche and time of year.

Each of these items comes with different costs. They might vary depending on your location and your customer base. But there are plenty of opportunities for you to make substantial profits in this industry. Here are some of the top options.

Most Profitable Concession Food

Cotton Candy

Cotton candy is basically made of sugar and a small amount of flavoring and food coloring. This means that you can make a large amount of it for a very small amount of money. Depending on what you charge, this gives you a profit margin of up to 90 percent or more. And it’s very popular for those at festivals, carnivals, sporting events and fairs.


Popcorn is another item that’s fairly inexpensive to purchase in bulk. You need a machine and a lot of kernels and you can basically keep it popping all day long. Depending on the machine you have, you can expect profit margins of up to 80 percent. In some cases, you might even add caramel, cheese or other toppings to make the popcorn seem a bit more gourmet or upscale.

Shaved Ice

Shaved ice or snow cones are especially popular in the summer. It’s a refreshing treat for warm weather festivals and family events. And since it’s basically made of ice and flavored syrup, you can make it fairly inexpensively. You just need an ice shaver and some cups or paper cones, leaving you with a cost of just about 15 cents for each one.


Soft pretzels are very popular at outdoor and indoor events. You can offer plain options or include tons of toppings. They’re essentially made of bread and a few specialty ingredients. You can even find ready-made options to keep labor costs down.


Nachos are incredibly popular and very customizable. You can offer plain tortilla chips with some melted cheese or add lots of extra toppings like peppers and jalapenos for a slightly more expensive option. In addition to the actual profits to be made from these snacks, they’re also fairly salty, so they can keep people coming back to buy water and other beverages.

Roasted Nuts

Nuts are a fairly healthy snack option, which are sure to be appealing to today’s consumers — especially families. You can add a variety of different flavorings to make them even more appealing. And the smell is sure to draw people in from all around an event.

Funnel Cakes

Funnel cakes are made of a simple batter, powdered sugar and oil. Once you have a concession fryer, you can buy the supplies in bulk and make these without a ton of cost. They’re popular (and often expected) at outdoor carnivals and family events throughout the summer in much of the country.

Corn Dogs

For those who want a bit more of a substantial food, corn dogs are fairly straightforward and inexpensive. You can purchase the hot dogs and use a batter and fryer to make them on site, or buy ready-made versions.

Ice Cream

For summer events, ice cream is a must. This type of concession business can be a bit more expensive to run since it uses perishable foods and requires constant cooling. However, you can charge a decent amount for cones or even add various toppings to make each item more exciting.

Hot Chocolate

In the winter, hot chocolate is one of the most popular items you can offer. You just need water and some simple cocoa mix to make a ton of this hot beverage. So it’s very inexpensive, and you’re sure to have people flock to your stand as they look to stay warm.

Caramel Apples

Caramel apples tend to be especially popular in the fall months. You can offer them just with caramel, or add sprinkles, nuts or candy to make them just a bit more exciting.

Fruit Cups

Lots of families today prefer to stick with healthy snacks whenever possible. Fruit is a good option for this niche, since it can easily fit into cups that are transportable. And they’re still sweet enough to be popular with kids at family events.

Cake Pops

Not exactly a healthy options, cake pops are perfect for sweet tooths. They’re made of cake and frosting. But they can be made in a wide array of flavors and are easy to transport on sticks. You can even offer gourmet versions that you can sell at a premium.

French Fries

French fries are very inexpensive to purchase and fry on-site. You can even offer more expensive options that are loaded with toppings, from cheese to bacon.

Walking Tacos

Walking tacos are made of crushed chips, meat and various taco toppings all mixed together in a chip bag. People can easily walk around with them and eat them with a fork. This is a particularly trendy option for sporting events and places where attendees will be doing a lot of walking but still want something substantial to eat.


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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

One Reaction
  1. This is perfect for those who are looking unto entering the food business.