Movie theater food memories

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RubyRose
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2004/04/06 12:21:11 (permalink)

Movie theater food memories

This past weekend, my granddaughter asked, “Grandma, did they sell popcorn at the movies in the olden days?” So we started talking about movie theater food when I was growing up. Our local theater – called The Auditorium – offered popcorn, ice cream sandwiches, soft drinks and candy. There may have been other items but they were the only selections that could be juggled into my Saturday matinee budget.

It was such a hard decision. Should I go for the short-term rush of a frozen Peanut Butter Cup or something mundane like a box of jujubes (the candy that put my dentist’s two children through college) that would last through the whole afternoon?

No matter what my choice, I always saved a nickel for the exotic soda machine located between the entryways of the Men’s and Ladies’ Lounges. Flavor choices were: cola, really bright green lemon lime, really bright orange-pineapple, really bright purple grape, and root beer. It was supposed to work this way:
1) Put nickel into slot
2) Paper cup drops down into holder
3) Simultaneous streams of soda water and soft drink syrup squirt into cup
4) Liquid stops squirting
5) Customer slides up glass door and removes cup full of drink

One of the reasons it was the afternoon’s highlight was because something could and usually did go wrong with one of those five steps and part of the fun would be waiting to see what it would be. Would today be the day the cup would tilt while it was dropping down so lemon lime syrup would squirt all over your white clamdiggers instead of into the cup? Would the cup drop at all? Would the soda water stream stop dead in its tracks when the cup was only half full? Would the glass door be stuck in the half open position, allowing the overflowing liquids to dribble on your feet but not allow you to remove the cup? Would…..

Sorry, I’m getting carried away by thoughts of that mystical machine.

What kinds of foods did they sell in your local movie theater when you were a kid?


#1

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    Cakes
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 12:29:42 (permalink)
    Our theatre in our little town of Akron, IA was the Norka (akron backwards). They had the world's best popcorn. I may be biased since my grandparents owned it. I think they had a soda pop machine. If you wanted candy you went next door to the dime store or another door down was the drug store including a soda fountain.

    Cakes
    #2
    chicagostyledog
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 12:44:27 (permalink)
    I used to go to the Saturday matinee for fifteen cents at the Rena Theater on Roosevelt road with my friend Stanley. We were always late and last in line. Once in the theater, Stanley would scout out a single seat. He had a very unusual talent. He could fart at will. Once seated, he began blasting those sitting near him. Inevitably, someone would leave and I'd take their seat. It worked every weekend. We ate Jujubees, Milk Duds, Slo Pokes, Raisinettes, Mason Mints, and Frosty Malt Cups. Whenever we sat in the balcony, we'd toss Jujubees at the people on the ground floor. Every so often, the usher would catch us and kick us out. We always talked the manager into a full refund.
    #3
    emsmom
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 12:51:44 (permalink)
    I remember those good old days at the Movie Theater. For 1.00 you could get in the movies, buy a large Cola in Ice, a box of popcorn and a double Reese Cup. Things sure have changed. I guess I'm telling my age in this one.
    #4
    Kristi S.
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 12:52:00 (permalink)
    I don't go to the movies much anymore in this age of banal new releases and DVDs , but I still have such a soft spot for popcorn in a crinkly little paper bag, and Sno-Caps. Geez, I love those things!
    #5
    Cakes
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 12:52:26 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by chicagostyledog

    I used to go to the Saturday matinee for fifteen cents at the Rena Theater on Roosevelt road with my friend Stanley. We were always late and last in line. Once in the theater, Stanley would scout out a single seat. He had a very unusual talent. He could fart at will. Once seated, he began blasting those sitting near him. Inevitably, someone would leave and I'd take their seat. It worked every weekend. We ate Jujubees, Milk Duds, Slo Pokes, Raisinettes, Mason Mints, and Frosty Malt Cups. Whenever we sat in the balcony, we'd toss Jujubees at the people on the ground floor. Every so often, the usher would catch us and kick us out. We always talked the manager into a full refund.


    You would not have gotten a refund from my Grandmother, I can tell you that!
    #6
    Grampy
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 12:54:25 (permalink)
    I fondly recall slow-cooked jumbo franks on revolving spikes. There was always a large pump container of Gulden's mustard -- and plenty of napkins -- nearby. The butter on the popcorn was real. That was when films like West Side Story and Spartacus had intermissions and programs were sold in the lobby.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 13:10:21 (permalink)
    I remember the Strand Theater on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden when I was pretty young. My folks took me there to see Mildred Pierce, and I had nightmares for a year about dying from pneumonia.

    There was the Westville Theater in New Haven where I'd go on Saturdays for the serials, the cartoons -- including the sing-along (follow the bouncing ball) -- and the double features.

    On rainy summer days when there was no chance of swimming or sailing I'd go to the Milford Theater not far from our summer cottage.

    In junior high and high school I used to go to the Roger Sherman Theater on College Street in New Haven with my friend Jimmy Bracken. It was always free, because Jimmy's dad was the manager.

    Later, I used to go to the Paramount Theater, also in New haven with Butch Darby, whose father managed that theater.

    While JubeJubes and malted milk balls were pretty standard fare when I was little, at the two places where my friends' fathers ran things it was always the free popcorn with loads and loads of "butter." The best thing about those days was that we'd go behind the concession counters and grab the cartons that the popcorn boxes came in. They were about three-feet long, and we'd fill them right up to the top. We had to roll our sleeves way up to eat the stuff near the bottom or get in trouble for getting our shirts covered with the "butter."
    #8
    signman
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 15:57:49 (permalink)
    I always had 50 cents when I went to the movies as a kid, 2 bits for the ticket, then 15 cents for a bag of popcorn. That left 2 nickels... one always went for Root Beer Barrels, because they would last all afternoon, and the last nickel for Goobers, or Chew-Ets, which were the milk chocolate version of Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.

    To this day I haven't gotten over the afternoon I went to see Disney's "Old Yeller" and the admission was 35 cents. That meant popcorn only, no candy.
    #9
    chicagostyledog
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 16:01:45 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Cakes

    quote:
    Originally posted by chicagostyledog

    I used to go to the Saturday matinee for fifteen cents at the Rena Theater on Roosevelt road with my friend Stanley. We were always late and last in line. Once in the theater, Stanley would scout out a single seat. He had a very unusual talent. He could fart at will. Once seated, he began blasting those sitting near him. Inevitably, someone would leave and I'd take their seat. It worked every weekend. We ate Jujubees, Milk Duds, Slo Pokes, Raisinettes, Mason Mints, and Frosty Malt Cups. Whenever we sat in the balcony, we'd toss Jujubees at the people on the ground floor. Every so often, the usher would catch us and kick us out. We always talked the manager into a full refund.


    You would not have gotten a refund from my Grandmother, I can tell you that!


    Cakes, you're right on that one. My Lithuanian grandmother was a tough old bird and a work horse. She owned a 24 unit building and was the head custodian. She fixed everything, including me, especially when I was in trouble. I remember many a day stoking the furnace in the basement because of my misgivings. She also swung a mean purse. In fact, when I was five, she closed down my first lemonade stand because I didn't ask for her permission.
    #10
    RedPatti
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 16:03:31 (permalink)
    Inglewood Theater -- where my dad worked as night manager (a second job) and we would be given the giant 3 lbs. Hersey bar that came in the case of regular Hershy bars. WOWWEE. They were big and my sister and I were covered in chocolate. I was 8 she was 12.
    #11
    chicagostyledog
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 16:05:29 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Grampy

    I fondly recall slow-cooked jumbo franks on revolving spikes. There was always a large pump container of Gulden's mustard -- and plenty of napkins -- nearby. The butter on the popcorn was real. That was when films like West Side Story and Spartacus had intermissions and programs were sold in the lobby.


    Grampy, did you ever watch the Saturday afternoon weekly serials? I remember Flash Gordon, Tailspin Tommy, and Jack Holt of the Secret Service.
    #12
    Grampy
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 16:23:21 (permalink)
    I loved Gene Autry and Flash Gordon. When I saw the film Bride of Frankenstein, I told my folks that FG had the same music. Naturally, they placated me with a condescending smile. I later learned that they took Franz Waxman's music from Bride of Frankenstein and used it in the serial. And who said the movies were't educational? Usually there was a cartoon, too, and a newsreel. There was also a specific children's section and usherettes with flashlights to show you to your seats. The Loewe's Valencia in Jamaica, Queens, was like a grand hotel, with sets of armor and a huge marble fountain with immense goldfish. I also liked that the boxes of candy were bigger than any you could get in the store: Goldberg's peanut chews; Mary Jane's; Zagnuts -- but the snap of those slow-cooked dogs in their soft, warm buns was the best.
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    Phishmonger
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 17:28:49 (permalink)
    I worked at the candy counter of the local theater (50 years ago, WOW!), and remember dishing out loads of popcorn with REAL butter. We also sold frozen Milky Ways and the other chocolate covered bar with a white center which name I can't remember today (when you whacked it on the seat arm, it shattered, making it easier to eat). Bon-Bons (Vanilla Ice Cream Balls, covered in chocolate were really good. Junior Mints and Jordan Almonds, of course. Coke and Orange soda were the only choices. The biggest crowds came for Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis - I remember 5 shows a day on weekends (1, 3, 5, 7 and 9). What a job cleaning up after the last show! One of the worst jobs, I thought, was carrying the "cans" of film reels up to the projection booth and down when the shows changed. They sure were heavy. Changing the lettering on the marquee was a job I liked. When doing usher duty, we were forced to wear a heavy wool suit in all kinds of weather, epaulets on the shoulders, and a cardboard dickie with a cardboard coll;ar and necktie at every show. Those dickies were sure uncomfortable, and quite a task to master the collar button that attached the collar to the dickie. Got to see all the latest shows, though. What a wonderful time!
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    Michael Stern
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 18:51:28 (permalink)
    At the Community House in Winnetka, Illinois, in the 1950s, where admission to the movie was, as I recall, 30 cents, they had a Coke machine that dispensed one of those shapely green glass bottles (7 ounces?) for six cents: deposit one nickel and one penny. After the theater, it was on to the Sweet Shop for hot fudge sundaes that were served with fudge in its own separate pitcher.
    #15
    seafarer john
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 20:58:13 (permalink)
    Sometime in the late '40s in Poughkeepsie, NY was the Aster Theatre. Matinees were 17 cents! Cant remember what cokes sold for, but I think the bottles were worth a penny or two at the local bottling plant.

    Sometime in the 50s, the Aster theatre was split down the middle - one half became a nightclub the other half continued as a theatre,
    called by everyone, the "Half-Aster".
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    marberthenad
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/06 21:03:14 (permalink)
    I miss the the french fry and burger shacks that sat in the middle of drive-in theaters. Some must still exist. In fact, that reminds me that during my vacation we stopped by an Acadian music festival In New Brunswick that was being held in a former drive in theater. Lots of campers. Anyway, the the french fry shack still was making french fries, but local Acadian delicacies also abounded ...
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    signman
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 00:19:57 (permalink)
    Phismonger, That candy you smacked on the seat was probably frozen Charleston Chew. Another great candy whose motto was "smack it and crack it" was Bonomo Turkish Taffy.
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    chicagostyledog
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 00:41:47 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Stern

    At the Community House in Winnetka, Illinois, in the 1950s, where admission to the movie was, as I recall, 30 cents, they had a Coke machine that dispensed one of those shapely green glass bottles (7 ounces?) for six cents: deposit one nickel and one penny. After the theater, it was on to the Sweet Shop for hot fudge sundaes that were served with fudge in its own separate pitcher.


    Michael, was that hot fudge sundae as good as the sundae's at Buffalo's on Irving Park and Pulaski or Lockwood Castle on Devon and Caldwell or Margie's Candies(we went there last Saturday) on Western?
    #19
    Michael Stern
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 04:25:05 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by chicagostyledog

    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Stern

    At the Community House in Winnetka, Illinois, in the 1950s, where admission to the movie was, as I recall, 30 cents, they had a Coke machine that dispensed one of those shapely green glass bottles (7 ounces?) for six cents: deposit one nickel and one penny. After the theater, it was on to the Sweet Shop for hot fudge sundaes that were served with fudge in its own separate pitcher.


    Michael, was that hot fudge sundae as good as the sundae's at Buffalo's on Irving Park and Pulaski or Lockwood Castle on Devon and Caldwell or Margie's Candies(we went there last Saturday) on Western?


    Hmmm, I don't know Buffalo's or Margie's ... but will put them on the hit-list. In my taste memory, the Sweet Shop hot fudge sundae was the best ever made, anywhere (I was introduced to it at the age of 5). Alas, the fudge recipe died with the owner...
    #20
    tsores
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 09:35:44 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Stern

    quote:
    Originally posted by chicagostyledog

    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Stern

    At the Community House in Winnetka, Illinois, in the 1950s, where admission to the movie was, as I recall, 30 cents, they had a Coke machine that dispensed one of those shapely green glass bottles (7 ounces?) for six cents: deposit one nickel and one penny. After the theater, it was on to the Sweet Shop for hot fudge sundaes that were served with fudge in its own separate pitcher.


    Michael, was that hot fudge sundae as good as the sundae's at Buffalo's on Irving Park and Pulaski or Lockwood Castle on Devon and Caldwell or Margie's Candies(we went there last Saturday) on Western?


    Hmmm, I don't know Buffalo's or Margie's ... but will put them on the hit-list. In my taste memory, the Sweet Shop hot fudge sundae was the best ever made, anywhere (I was introduced to it at the age of 5). Alas, the fudge recipe died with the owner...


    Michael: Buffalo's is long gone. When I was a kid in the 50's & 60's it was a genuine ice cream parlora nd delicious. Margie's is still around. Margie passed away a few years ago and some say it is not as good. But they still pack them in.
    #21
    tsores
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 09:38:24 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by chicagostyledog

    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Stern

    At the Community House in Winnetka, Illinois, in the 1950s, where admission to the movie was, as I recall, 30 cents, they had a Coke machine that dispensed one of those shapely green glass bottles (7 ounces?) for six cents: deposit one nickel and one penny. After the theater, it was on to the Sweet Shop for hot fudge sundaes that were served with fudge in its own separate pitcher.


    Michael, was that hot fudge sundae as good as the sundae's at Buffalo's on Irving Park and Pulaski or Lockwood Castle on Devon and Caldwell or Margie's Candies(we went there last Saturday) on Western?


    I'm surprised you left off Gertie's on 59th & Kedzie. Similar to the old Buffalo's. Before it closed in the mid '80s we used to schlep there from Highland Park. Well worth the trip.
    #22
    Dipstick
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 10:40:53 (permalink)
    In the small town I grew up in, the theatre only held about 80 people and cost 35 cents. I remember that awesome popcorn and my favorite candy, Bit-o-Honey. The only time I didn't enjoy eating treats was while seeing the Exorcist for the first time. My jaw was on the floor!" />
    #23
    chicagostyledog
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 13:05:34 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by tsores

    quote:
    Originally posted by chicagostyledog

    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Stern

    At the Community House in Winnetka, Illinois, in the 1950s, where admission to the movie was, as I recall, 30 cents, they had a Coke machine that dispensed one of those shapely green glass bottles (7 ounces?) for six cents: deposit one nickel and one penny. After the theater, it was on to the Sweet Shop for hot fudge sundaes that were served with fudge in its own separate pitcher.


    Michael, was that hot fudge sundae as good as the sundae's at Buffalo's on Irving Park and Pulaski or Lockwood Castle on Devon and Caldwell or Margie's Candies(we went there last Saturday) on Western?


    I'm surprised you left off Gertie's on 59th & Kedzie. Similar to the old Buffalo's. Before it closed in the mid '80s we used to schlep there from Highland Park. Well worth the trip.


    I was a west sider that moved to Lincolnwood. We never went further south than Roosevelt Road. My sister lives in Highland Park off Clavey and west of 41 and my aunt lived off Clavey and Eldridge Circle Drive. When we moved to Lincolnwood, the only theater around besides the Nortown and the Granada, was the Skokie theater or the Varsity in Evanston. Every once in awhile, we'll go to the Highland Park theater on Central. They show older movies at cut bargain prices.
    #24
    tsores
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 13:59:46 (permalink)


    I was a west sider that moved to Lincolnwood. We never went further south than Roosevelt Road. My sister lives in Highland Park off Clavey and west of 41 and my aunt lived off Clavey and Eldridge Circle Drive. When we moved to Lincolnwood, the only theater around besides the Nortown and the Granada, was the Skokie theater or the Varsity in Evanston. Every once in awhile, we'll go to the Highland Park theater on Central. They show older movies at cut bargain prices.


    'dog: I am a west sider (Central & Washington) that ended up in HP north of Clavey west of 41. Still goin' to the HP theater.
    #25
    chicagostyledog
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 17:15:06 (permalink)
    Tsores, small world. I'm from Roosevelt & Keeler. My dad had a drug store on Kedzie & Harrison. I've lived in Lincolnwood, Niles, and Vernon Hills before escaping to Wisconsin. We were in HP last Saturday. Ate at Stash's and met the new owner, a former west sider like us. I frequented Stash's shack long before Port Clinton Square. Is Bud Shelton's Ravinia Grill still around? We do breakfast some Sundays at Walker Bros in HP. We've comtemplated moving back to Lake county, but won't trade that for our lower taxes while living in a home built by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright on Lake Michigan. The next best thing is driving into HP.
    #26
    tsores
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/07 17:30:51 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by chicagostyledog

    Tsores, small world. I'm from Roosevelt & Keeler. My dad had a drug store on Kedzie & Harrison. I've lived in Lincolnwood, Niles, and Vernon Hills before escaping to Wisconsin. We were in HP last Saturday. Ate at Stash's and met the new owner, a former west sider like us. I frequented Stash's shack long before Port Clinton Square. Is Bud Shelton's Ravinia Grill still around? We do breakfast some Sundays at Walker Bros in HP. We've comtemplated moving back to Lake county, but won't trade that for our lower taxes while living in a home built by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright on Lake Michigan. The next best thing is driving into HP.


    From what I gather, Shelton passed away a few years ago. Last I heard the restaurant was open in the mornings. However, I just called and the line is disconnected.

    #27
    Pwingsx
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2004/04/08 16:59:07 (permalink)
    I liked Flicks, the star-shaped chocolate candy. I don't think they make it anymore, and I don't think it was really chocolate. I enjoyed them, but they didn't really taste like any chocolate I've had since. What WERE they?
    #28
    marcbla
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2005/02/01 22:46:14 (permalink)
    I remember going around town and collecting soda bottles and taking them in for the deposit money so i could go to the matinee on saturday afternoon. The Angela theatre in coaldale pa had all the usual candy but the one i rmemmber most was root beer kegs, they were soft gum drop candies not the hard root beer barrels of today. They also sold mini powdered doughnuts that made a really neat effect when we threw them at the screen, the powder shimmering in the projectors light! Many years ago i saw a flick at the phoenixville theatre, the exterior of the place was used for the movie the blob!
    #29
    carlton pierre
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    RE: Movie theater food memories 2005/02/01 23:29:30 (permalink)
    There was a great little theater in Hamilton, OH where I grew up. originally it was called the Linden, then closed and reopened under a different name. The new place was kind of like being at home. every 4 or 5 seats there would be a coffee table kind of thing, waitresses would come around and take orders for hamburgs, hot dogs, beer, sodas, you name it. It was a great little place. Only had one screen.
    #30
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