9 Little-Known Secrets About Food Court Restaurants

You've eaten at food court restaurants in malls plenty of times. It's time to test your knowledge—and see if you know some of these surprising facts!

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Sbarro Didn’t Originally Serve Pizza

Carmela and Gennaro Sbarro opened up their first salumeria in Brooklyn in 1956. The shop focused mainly on deli cuts and cold meats, but it wasn’t long before Carmela found herself making slices of pizza for workers on their short breaks. The pizza became the star of the show not long after. When their second Sbarro location popped up, it was dedicated solely to their classic Brooklyn slices!

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Auntie Anne Is a Real Person

It’s true! Her real name is…Anne Beiler. She was going through an incredibly tough time in her life when she bought a concession stand at a Pennsylvania farmers market in 1988. With the help and support of her husband, the two went on to create the world’s most famous pretzel franchise.

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Coldstone Creamery Used to Sell Crickets

In 2001, 142 Coldstone locations sold chocolate-covered crickets as a way to capitalize on the ongoing Survivor TV show craze. Any customer who managed to down a cricket was rewarded with free ice cream on their next visit or entered into a Survivor-themed raffle.

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SAN JOSE, UNITED STATES - 2020/02/25: Customers visit an American fast food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A store at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images/Getty Images

Chick-fil-A Started in Shopping Mall Food Courts

While the chicken sandwich and sweet tea giant now has locations across the country, it started in mall food courts. Founded in 1961, and formerly known as Dwarf Grill, Chick-fil-A changed its name in 1967. Its first free-standing establishment opening around in 1986 in Atlanta. Thank goodness, am I right?

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mcdonalds soft drinks one dollar
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Coca-Cola at McDonald’s Is Different

McDonald’s is pretty tight with Coca-Cola, so they’ve set up a sweet deal. Instead of having their soda syrup delivered in plastic bags, like most restaurants, McDonald’s gets their syrup shipped in stainless steel tanks. Your tongue definitely tastes the difference. They also keep their carbonated water as cold as possible to help keep that healthy fizz.

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Hot Dog on a Stick Started at the Beach

The well-known food court favorite (especially in Cali) started as Party Puffs on a beach in Santa Monica in 1946. While they primarily served ice cream cones and lemonade to local beach-goers, owner Dave Barham decided to try something new. He tried his mom’s cornbread recipe and voila—Hot Dog on a Stick was born! Now I’m hungry for corn dogs

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A&W’s First Root Beer Was Served to WWI Vets

Growing up around Chicago, my favorite fast-food place to visit inside Woodfield Mall was always A&W. With classic American food like cheeseburgers, fries and root beer floats, you couldn’t go wrong. Speaking of root beer, did you know A&W was founded on June 20, 1919, at a homecoming parade for WWI veterans? That’s where the very first A&W root beer was served! Since 2014, they’ve raised over $800,000 for veteran-related charities.

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Atmosphere at the Nathan's Famous 100th Anniversary Celebration on May 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
Bobby Bank/Getty Images

Nathan’s Famous Originally Sold Hot Dogs for Five Cents

As a Polish immigrant trying to make his American dream come true, Nathan Handwerker opened up his hot dog shop on Coney Island in 1912. In order to keep up with the competition, Nathan dropped his hot dog prices down to FIVE cents per dog! That was half of his competitor’s price. Now Nathan’s Famous sponsors its very own hot dog eating competition—what a world we live in.

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Mrs. Fields’ Cookie Recipe Is a Secret

If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but buy five cookies when you pass by a Mrs. Fields. (I might even grab a pack of mini chocolate cookies to go.) It’s rumored that the recipe for Mrs. Fields’ cookies was sold for $250 in the 1980s, but Debbi Fields herself refuted the claim. According to her, the recipe still remains a “delicious trade secret.” This is what the real Mrs. Fields looks like.

Melany Love
Having always wanted a career in writing, Melany couldn't have found a better place than Taste of Home to begin. When she's not scribbling in her notebook or working at her computer, she can be found experimenting with new recipes or relaxing with a book and her cats.