04 April 2011

Theaters fight to keep their popcorn caloric counts private

I rarely go to the movies, but when I do, I steer clear of the concession stand. Not that I wouldn’t love to blindly nosh on something sweet & delicious while I’m engrossed in a film, but I avoid that popcorn maker after a high school job of working at a movie theatre. Never again can I get a whiff of that popcorn butter.

All I remember is that it arrives in huge plastic bags and is dumped into containers (or topped off into existing sitting vats of it) to heat up before the theatre doors open. Those bags are heavy, and I’ve been covered in my share of grease.

Most people that eat popcorn "with the butter on it" would probably prefer not to know what’s in it… and cinemas are fighting to keep everyone in the dark about this mysterious yellow gunk.

Federal regulation could force movie theatres to post calorie counts for all their junk food, including popcorn, pretzels, hot dogs, and other non-packaged foods offered in movie theatres. The National Association of Theatre Owners have been lobbying the FDA and members of congress in an attempt to make theatres exempt from the nutritional labeling requirement, with the argument that it’s an intrusion into their business.


As the chief financial officer of Regal Entertainment Group David Ownby said “"We sell a bucket of popcorn for about $6. Our cost in that $6 bucket of popcorn is about 15 cents or 20 cents. So if that cost doubles, it doesn't really hurt me that much."

So suck it up, and stick to the rules that all other concessions have had to adhere to, and let America know how gross that butter really is. A 2009 survey based on laboratory testing by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington found that a large bucket of popcorn contains the same amount of calories as eating 3 Big Macs—a whopping 1,460 calories, including about 60 grams of saturated fat.

So the next time you go to the movies, remember that popcorn isn’t such a healthy option—with or without the butter.

Kelly Beth | @veganbotanicals
Kelly Beth is a smiley vegan herbalist and wanderer, and currently resides in Boulder, Colorado with her fiancé and kitty (kitty face). She created twig & leaf botanicals, a vegan & organic herbal apothecary 3 years ago to bring healthy, plant-based alternatives to mainstream medicine and home care. Follow Kelly Beth on her blog and Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/mikefischer