The history of movie popcorn


This reminds me of an article about food and the movies written in Cabinet magazine years ago. The article was written by Amelie Hastie.

She states:
“Food is alternately complementary and distracting in the movie theater. Like other material aspects of the cinema, food preserves and transforms our experiences at the movies: in a sense, food’s ability to preserve our experience transforms it precisely by thwarting our complete “transportation” into the world of the film.”

Here is a link to the complete article on Cabinet Magazine’s website:

edit: misspelled name

That image that comes with the “Let’s All Go To The Lobby” vid had me immediately running the entire thing through my head before I even clicked it. Dates me, don’t it?

Too bad going to the movies is more like this these days:

This reminds me of popcorn, and popcorn is the food of the gods. I don’t give two blinks of a lizard’s eye for opinions to the contrary. Lastly, to every popcorn slinger that took my garganto-tub and scooped up the unpopped dreck at the bottom of the machine–when the revolution comes, you’re gonna be first in line for the axe.


I was doing the same thing. I’m not old enough to have seen it when it was current, but when I was 16, me and my friend would sneak out and drive to the Franklin cinema to see the midnight show of Rocky Horror, where that promo was also shown at every show. there was participation to it, too.


What I remember from college is that refreshments – especially popcorn – are how theaters make their profits. The cost of renting the film is so high, that even with high ticket prices, the theater might break even at best from actually showing movies.


Is that the guard from Yes, Dear?

I can’t link to specific times (I need to fix that…) but try 1:28 to 2:42
Now linked to the correct time.

I knew a guy in Nashville, his hobby was to see EVERY movie. Seriously. Every wide release plus any screenings at Vanderbilt’s student center and the (at the time only) art/revival theater. Pretty soon, every employee at every theater knew him, and someone at the art theater explained what you said in your post. He then made it a point to load up at the concession stand, whereupon they quit charging him at the door.

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One summer in high school, I worked at a local drive-in theater. On Wednesday or Thursday nights, we would pop enormous batches of popcorn, and store it all in 50-gallon trash bags, in preparation for the weekend crowds. There was no way we could keep-up with demand if we didn’t make it all ahead of time.

seems likely. I just found that gif on the internet, no attribution.

yeah, I know.
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No one in history has ever enjoyed popcorn as much as Michael is enjoying that popcorn. I doubt anyone ever will. It’s freaking me out how much he’s enjoying that popcorn. Chills.

I still love to make my own, properly on the stove, but working in a movie theater turned me off of coconut based “butter” topping.

Actually I don’t even see movies unless the theater has included restaurants or is a dollar theater.

I work at a pretty good-sized movie studio, and I used to attend screenings at some of the fancier theaters in town: the DGA theater, the Steven Ross theater at Warner Bros, the WGA’s theater, etc. These are pretty state-of-the-art theaters, since they’re generally used for and by industry professionals rather than hoi polloi. But I quit attending screenings at them because, goddammit, I want my popcorn and snacks, and they don’t let you bring them into these cloistered screening rooms.

For a year or two I lived in North Hollywood, just behind the Century 8 theater at Coldwater & Victory. This is a 70s-vintage shithole with Vegas carpet, mirrors on the too-thin walls (during the quiet romantic sections of your Merchant/Ivory type movie, you could always hear the explosions from the Bruckheimer movie next door), sticky floors, the works. But they sold Red Vines (not Twizzlers), had both Cherry Coke and Mr Pibb, and weekday matinees before 5:00 PM were only $4. I used to go in there just for the air conditioning during my summer hiatuses, never caring what was playing.

These days, I go to the Arclight. Reserved seating, comfy seating, excellent sound, careful monitoring of projection and sound quality, slightly higher price to keep out the noisier riffraff, and best of all: no stupid commercials or “Coca Cola Young Filmmaker” spots or any of that craptastic advertising before the movie. Just 2 or 3 trailers, then your feature.

And no late seating.

The pinnacle of moviegoing civilization. Some screenings ate 21+ so you can bring your hooch in from the lobby bar, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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stove>microwave. all those nasty chemicals in the microwave kind (one of which is toxic, right? isn’t that a thing?), and a giant bag of un-popped corn is like a dollar. when you make it right, you get almost no unpopped kernels, too. I make it often and top with melted butter (real from-cows butter) and salt, but the trick is to squirt some sriracha into the melted butter, enough to turn it pumpkin orange.

we are the last generation to remember when movies were a theater-only, shut-up-and-watch experience ;_;

enjoy your bad-assed theater while you can, it will be going the way of the passenger pigeon soon. the numbers of folks that feel what it offers is important just won’t be there for much longer. dammit.

That’s one reason why I stay in L.A. The movie theaters there aren’t going away anytime soon. As long as Hollywood keeps making movies, Hollywood types like good theaters to see (and be seen seeing) them in.

Plus, we get real butter on our popcorn, too.

Movies like Gravity and Avatar are trying to give viewers that huge, immersive experience we still can’t get at home. That’s a stopgap measure that might keep fannies in the seats for a while, but otherwise I think you’re right. The communal experience of going to the movies seems to have lost its allure for most people. The fact that so very many people seem perfectly happy to watch an actual feature-length movie on a telephone screen with earbuds in while riding a bus confounds me. I might watch a sitcom that way (if I had to watch a sitcom), but an actual movie? No thanks.

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I love the movies, although I have no opportunity to go right now (only one visit in a year!), but it’s the big screen and great sound I go (went) for. If the cinema is almost empty, bonus!

And popcorn is stinky and gross. I never buy any of the nasty snacks. I still wouldn’t even if they were reasonably priced.

Long as I get the seats I want (4th to 6th row, center), I don’t mind if a theater is crowded. Arclight audiences are generally respectful; they’re not the loud-chewing, texting seatkickers you find at the AMC multiplexes. People pay extra to get the decent moviegoing experience they can get at the Arclight.

And in my opinion, horror movies and broad comedies are generally more fun in a packed house.

Plus, I love my movie junkfood. Popcorn w/butter, sizable Mr Pibb or Dr Pepper or Cherry Coke, and maybe some peanut M&Ms or a box of Red Vines, and I’m a happy guy. My sister’s the same. She never wanted to go anywhere for her wedding anniversary fancier than just a trip to the movies with all the snacks she could carry (with reliable babysitting, of course).

She and I have always been easy to please in that regard.