Drive On In: Drive-In Movie Theaters Turn 78!

June 6, 2011

Theater Popcorn

On June 6th, 1933 the first "park-in" (the term drive-in was coined later) movie theater opened in Camden, New Jersey to a group of eager motorists. Patented in May of 1933 for an initial investment of $30,000 (almost a half-million dollars today - yikes!), patrons were charged $0.25 per car and an additional $0.25 per person, with a maximum fee of $1.00 per group -- or just over $16 for the whole family! Advertised as a night of family fun, drive-in theaters caught on rapidly and began to include amenities like playgrounds, full service restaurants, and enough spaces for 2,500 cars! Interestingly, unlike normal theaters, they were generally unable to screen Hollywood blockbusters. Speakers were originally mounted at the screen before the technology developed to broadcast short-wave radio signals that could be received by individual motorists' in-dash radios.

While the drive-in reached its height in the post-WWII era of the 1950s-60s, with more than 5,000 drive-ins across the country. But the rising costs of real estate made such large plots of land prohibitively expensive, and now only 500 or so remain, almost entirely in the Northeastern part of the country, where it all began so many years ago. So celebrate the birth of this iconic American invention with these theater-themed snacks!

Chocolate Malted Milkshake
As much a part of the theater experience as popcorn, malts are a classic American treat!

Homemade Cracker Jack
The homemade version of these peanut caramel popcorn clusters is infinitely better than the store-bought kind!

Parmesan Truffle Popcorn
This is not your average popcorn seasoning! With either black truffle salt or white truffle oil, add an earthy or buttery-garlicky hint to your next bowl of popcorn.

Maple Bacon Kettle Corn
Everything is better with bacon - even kettle corn!

Chewy Caramel Popcorn Pretzel Bars
Two favorite theater snacks come together to form this salty-sweet chewy-crunch treat.

Buttered Popcorn Macaroons with Salted Caramel Filling
All of your favorite flavors in an airy-crunchy cookie with ooey-gooey filling.

Popcorn White Chocolate Fudge
Sweet and salty, this white chocolate fudge is absolutely divine.

Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes
With chunks of corn and caramel buttercream, a perfect reincarnation of a classic snack.

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