Movie-Theater Popcorn Is Still a Caloric Nightmare

A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.

It doesn’t even seem like it’s been that long since we all learned that eating popcorn just because you’re at a movie theater was a sick indulgence on the level of stuffing five fried Snickers bars in your face just because it’s a Wednesday, but it’s been a whole fifteen years! And basically, nothing has changed. Two of the most popular theater chains, Regal and AMC, still insist on making their popcorn with coconut oil, which is 90 percent saturated fat, leading to this sentence:

“A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation’s largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released today by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.”

Well, that doesn’t sound good at all! The study found that Cinemark, the third largest (but much smaller) chain uses canola oil, which makes theirs slightly better but still bad. When reached for comment, the theaters were all about how movie-theater popcorn is a sometimes food and a special treat, and not meant to be part of a healthy diet, pointing out that the average American goes to the movies only six times per year, and that they tried changing the popcorn in the nineties, but theatergoers “demanded” their fatty popcorn back, which all sounds a lot like a mom guilt trip: “You hardly ever visit! I tried making you healthy food, but you didn’t want it! Visit your mother, eat her food, when am I going to get grandchildren?”

The thing that’s not mentioned in this article is that movie theaters are SCARED SHITLESS of losing concession money, because even with ridiculously high ticket prices, it’s basically the only money they make. Why else would they be so anal about outside food? (Full disclosure: The closest we’ve ever come to being arrested was on three separate outside-food incidents.) The reason they serve popcorn in movie theaters is because popcorn, and soda, are literally the cheapest things people can put in their mouths. We worked in a movie theater for three years in college, where it was drilled into our heads that a theatergoer who doesn’t buy soda or popcorn is basically a loss for the business. So no matter how many of these studies they do, unless they can make healthier popcorn taste exactly the same as regular, nothing is going to change. People be wanting their gross popcorn, and we all have the absurd idea that getting it “plain” without “buttery topping” is a healthy choice on the level of something Gwyneth Paltrow would endorse in her GOOP newsletter. People go to movies to have fun and enter a fantasy world where all constraints and consequences magically disappear, and popcorn is part of that fantasy. For one theatergoer to mention to another that movie-theater popcorn is absolutely disgusting and point out that the six-movies-per-year average actually adds up to like four POUNDS per year, per person — why, that theatergoer may as well just lean over and whisper “Bruce Willis is one of the dead people.” This is the way the world is, theater-popcorn-wise, and it’s just never going to change.

While you’re here, though, can we just say something real quick? When a movie ends, please take your trash and throw it away in the trash can, like a human being. You would not believe what a total litterbug trash animal everyone becomes when they enter a movie theater. Clean up after yourselves, animals!

Movie popcorn still a nutritional horror, study finds

Movie-Theater Popcorn Is Still a Caloric Nightmare