Performative Snackery
September 15, 2022 2:54 PM   Subscribe

What's an equivalent of a popcorn machine or a cotton candy machine that meets those same targets of: creates a spectacle, is edible, and is very easy to use in a one-and-done kind of way, but is neither a popcorn machine nor a cotton candy machine?

Inspired by that above linked comment on a recent question of mine, I can see myself future-investing in a big single purpose snack contraption like a popcorn machine for things like Halloween and block parties. Since I'm not exactly friendly, I need to establish myself via spectacle so the neighbors keep liking me.

Problem: I don't care for popcorn. Our autumns are super damp here, so cotton candy would likely be fraught, and I have other reasons for not cotton candy anyway.

But surely there are other maker machines like this, right? Yes, surely. I just don't know what they are.

Ideally the prep and active monitoring aspect would be relatively low, the price-per-treat would be relatively low, and the treat itself is one that has broad (if not universal, I see you trying, popcorn) appeal.

Let's pretend for the sake of this question that up front cost and storage are not concerns.
posted by phunniemee to Food & Drink (49 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
A shaved ice maker? Shave the ice pour some syrup on top and you're done. Better in the summer but I wouldn't say no to a shaved ice any time of year.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:56 PM on September 15, 2022 [7 favorites]

Chocolate fountain?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:01 PM on September 15, 2022 [7 favorites]

Fondue pot.
posted by Oyéah at 3:02 PM on September 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If up-front cost really doesn't matter, it looks like $1000-1500 will get you a commercial-grade slushie machine.
posted by ethand at 3:04 PM on September 15, 2022 [11 favorites]

Hand-crank ice cream maker?
Like this:
posted by niicholas at 3:04 PM on September 15, 2022

Snow cone maker

Those hotdog rollers

Taiyaki machine (they are basically savory waffles)
posted by kschang at 3:07 PM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

I also came in here to say chocolate fountain.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:08 PM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Big effin slushie machine is exactly in the vein of thing I want.

(Shaved ice, etc, is a great idea but a handful of folks in my area support themselves with frozen treat carts and I don't want anyone losing business from my dumb fun thing...same with the cotton candy.)
posted by phunniemee at 3:10 PM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you like honey roasted nuts, you could buy a nut cart.
posted by bilabial at 3:11 PM on September 15, 2022

Best answer: Soft serve ice cream?
posted by hydrophonic at 3:11 PM on September 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: And I guess I should clarify this would be for use outdoors in a very urban area. It's all fun and games til the wind blows and you got yourself a chocolate covered funyuns wrapper.
posted by phunniemee at 3:12 PM on September 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

Oops, I meant to link.
posted by hydrophonic at 3:13 PM on September 15, 2022

Here's a bulky, fancy donut machine, of the sort I've seen at a farmers market.

In reality, I'd pick up 2-3 waffle-iron style mini donut makers.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:20 PM on September 15, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: What about those mini donut makers where they squirt out the batter into a river of oil and as they travel down they stop at a gate that flips them over?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:22 PM on September 15, 2022 [17 favorites]

I don't know if they create enough of a spectacle but things like baby castella, taiyaki, and takoyaki, don't require too much detailed work from the operator. You squirt the batter into the equipment, add fillings if it's taiyaki or takoyaki and then let it cook. If you're cooking takoyaki and put katsuobushi on it then the way the flakes wave around is pretty neat.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:34 PM on September 15, 2022 [5 favorites]

I had an old Simax ice cream maker that incorporated its own refrigeration compressor and would produce a quart of ice cream from a mix in a few minutes that I bought from the Goodwill and then gave back after using it only a couple of times a year for a decade.

I'd think you'd want at least a half gallon machine for a party — but far more spectacular would be a liquid nitrogen set up for ice cream. I bet you could rent one.

At college, I went to dinner at the house of a scientist who grew up in Germany, and to accompany dessert he pulled out this apparatus which had a perforated stainless steel half cylinder suspended horizontally over a vat. He put red wine in the vat and a cone of compressed sugar in the cylinder, turned out the lights and lit a candlelabra, poured brandy over the sugar and lit it, and we all sat there and watched as the sugar burned and melted, and blue flaming drops of burning sugar dripped into the vat with a vip! vip! sound, all in a miasma of the smell of burning sugar and hot wine. Then he ladled the wine into glasses and we drank it as we ate some kind of not very sweet desert tort.

I didn't get quite drunk enough to mention how much it resembled a setup the stoner who lived across the hall from me in the dorm had for taking LSD and listening to acid rock, in which he shredded a polyethylene bag and suspended it from the ceiling light fixture in the middle of the room, then lit on fire with the lights out and watched the burning drops of plastic fall 4-5 ft down into a wastebasket full of water.
posted by jamjam at 3:36 PM on September 15, 2022 [11 favorites]

Best answer: I was going to suggest an old-fashioned gum ball machine that you could fill with gum balls or M&Ms or Skittles and such, but in looking for a link I saw this reasonably priced claw machine that looks like a lot more fun!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:39 PM on September 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

jamjam's story reminds me of something I've seen a few people do which is always very welcome: hot cider. It can be kept hot in a crockpot and ladled into cups. Every time I've been at event where someone has brought this, it's been very popular. Perhaps there are fancier setups than a crockpot.
posted by Well I never at 3:40 PM on September 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This cider dispenser at Amazon lets you see the cider inside it, and looks like a rocket ship.
posted by Well I never at 3:42 PM on September 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you want to do jamjam's thing, Feuerzangenbowle apparatus is what you need. Good fun with fire.

(The trippers burning plastic bags that I knew had the sense to do it outdoors. The fumes are nasty.)
posted by away for regrooving at 3:49 PM on September 15, 2022 [4 favorites]

espresso drinks?
posted by firefly5 at 3:51 PM on September 15, 2022

Dalgona candy kit? As seen in Squid Games.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:18 PM on September 15, 2022

Funnel cakes?
posted by selfmedicating at 4:28 PM on September 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

I don't know how easy it is to learn to make, but rolled ice cream is insane
posted by Mchelly at 4:29 PM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's a million cakepop (chosen at random), doughnut(also random), etc makers online or at tjmaxx if the spectacle is the thing.
posted by atomicstone at 4:38 PM on September 15, 2022

You obviously need a hot dog roller like you would see at 7-Eleven. If you want to go extra you can pair it with an automatic sausage slicer that every good German corner store has.
posted by backseatpilot at 4:44 PM on September 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

Bralyx, maker of "forming and encrusting machines" ["truffles, cake pop, brazilians sweets including: brigadeiro, beijinho and others" which "can also produce other products without filling like: gnocchi, mac & cheese, tater tots, cheese ball etc"] like the Dolcelyx and the Tubo
Fried dough machines for churros and funnel cake
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:46 PM on September 15, 2022

A crepe maker? Would provide good sweet or savory options.
posted by LisaInTX at 4:47 PM on September 15, 2022

Jessamyn has a rotary hand-cranked apple peeler-and-corer. It is fascinating to watch and even more fun to use. And it makes nice curly-Q apple peels if you impale the apple just right before peeling.

Apple season's coming up...
posted by not_on_display at 4:54 PM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Taffy pulling machine. Interesting to watch and also uncommon. I've seen a couple at salt water taffy stands on the coast.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:11 PM on September 15, 2022 [4 favorites]

Get a churro machine cart! It has a vat that extrudes the dough into a vat of hot oil, and a spot for keeping melted chocolate and cinnamon sugar for dipping.

That or one of those liquid nitrogen cooled ice cream makers that looks like a Kitchen Aid on steroids. Not the fastest, as each serving takes several minutes to prepare, but wow it's dramatically smokey (misty?) and the ice cream is super creamy.
posted by ananci at 5:27 PM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

The apple peeler-corer-slicer is especially decadent if you drizzle caramel over the freshly sliced apple (granny smith, winesap are favorites) in a sturdy paper cone or bowl.
posted by childofTethys at 5:30 PM on September 15, 2022 [5 favorites]

There’s a house where we go trick or treating that makes fresh homemade french fries. So good! They have some sort of crank thing that cuts the potatoes and then a fryer.
posted by MadMadam at 5:32 PM on September 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

Please tell us what fabulous thing you end up doing?
posted by Bottlecap at 5:36 PM on September 15, 2022 [14 favorites]

I have never had raclette, and I would like to. When Whole Foods opened here, they had a sign for it, but apparently the equipment never arrived/ It's melted/ slightly toasted cheese, like the edge of a grilled cheese sandwich. Going to Switzerland for it feels extreme.
posted by theora55 at 5:58 PM on September 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

I have worked at two different schools where someone on the staff has had a cider press, and the novelty of them bringing it in each fall and letting everyone in the school press cider never got old to me or the kids. Googling Cider Press brought up many options for under $300 and made me think that maybe I need to be the cider press person at my new school!
posted by momochan at 6:05 PM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Nachos machine?

Maybe go down to your local movie theater and see what machines they have there, and what appeals?
posted by virve at 6:35 PM on September 15, 2022

Sugar cane press! Although I'm sure the yellowjackets would love you as much as your neighbors would.

But just imagine rolling up on one of these.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:00 PM on September 15, 2022

Best answer: Piggybacking off of the sugarcane press, maybe a commercial juicer? I'd be excited for a little cup of fresh orange juice, especially if mimosa fixins were available for adults.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 7:48 PM on September 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

If you’re at all handy or know anyone who is, you could probably build an impressive candy delivery Rube Goldberg machine (pachinko, model train, etc) that just delivers little packets of snacks. The journey and the time needed to strike up a conversation being the point rather than the snack itself.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:35 PM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Giant grill for roasting corn on the cob, fixings of butter, salt, mayo, etc. Look up Mexican street corn recipes
posted by Summers at 5:10 AM on September 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

Those giant citrus juicing machines that lemonade vendors have, where you wind up with a big cup of lemonade with the empty lemon halves in the cup.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:19 AM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Liege Belgian street waffles. The kind with the Belgian sugar pearls in them..I don't know if it's cold where you are but, on a cold day, they would be awesome. I have never made them but this video tries a bunch of different recipes.
posted by BoscosMom at 10:41 AM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

The smell alone is a treat.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:01 AM on September 16, 2022

Apple Cider Press!
posted by ljesse at 1:01 PM on September 16, 2022

I've seen an automatic/conveyor belt pancake maker that looks super simple & easy to run.

It sounds like you're off cotton candy already, but those cotton candy machines make a huge, sticky mess on the operator and surrounding area, so that is a(nother?) reason to avoid cotton candy machines.
posted by flug at 2:33 PM on September 17, 2022

Seconding some kind of nut machine- thingie. Fancy restaurant in my area used to have a guy outside roasting chestnuts around the holidays, and would give little bags to the patrons as they waited for the valets to being their cars around. Don't know if it was wood or charcoal, but it smelled so amazing.
posted by Neeuq Nus at 5:15 AM on September 18, 2022

Some kind of rotisserie for a spit cake would be kind of spectacular. These are a delicacy from southern Sweden and apparently parts of eastern Europe. Otherwise a firepit with a selection of waffle/wafer irons to make a kind of krumkake, pizzelle or more traditional waffles would be cool.
posted by St. Oops at 2:36 AM on September 19, 2022

« Older Very frequent canker sores. Help!   |   Where to shop online for mens' winter x-wide boots... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.