Does Popcorn enhance the Movie Experience? By Dave

The aroma of movie popcorn is intoxicating. I don’t care that, on average, each bucket- and yes that measure should be a significant clue as to the ‘health’ of the product- contains a a reported 1650 calories according to DietBites. It’s that faux-butter fantasy that overwhelms the senses and pulls you in like lemmings to an inevitable death. It’s a beautiful thing. But does it really enhance the movie experience? To decipher this question, we must consider a number of issues and obstacles. So grab some popcorn and sit back!

1. Why is movie popcorn so expensive?

The answer to this question is found at the cash register. It would be universally accepted that the price of movie popcorn is nothing short of extortion, yet does this stop individuals from purchasing it? The answer is no. In fact, this uber-high pricing creates a sense of privilege and surreality that arguably begins the journey into another world before the movie has even begun.

Movie Popcorn

Movie Popcorn

There is a real sense of journey when you do something that contradicts logic. It’s the same when purchasing movie popcorn. No doubt, making the mind shift from being reluctantly extorted to embracing a dreamy popcorn fantasy world might be difficult if you are Scrooge McDuck or a cash-strapped student. If you’re wondering, no I’m not employed by the movie popcorn people- although I may very well become their best salesman!

2. You cannot eat popcorn without a beverage

Actually, you can eat popcorn as a standalone entity- but it’s about as sensible as eating a meat pie without sauce. It’s just not intelligent. I am happy to live in ignorance about the actual amount of salt in popcorn. If my brain knew these specific details it would send a message FedEx to my salivating tongue (and my wallet) to prevent the handing over of cash, and the entry of the buttery goodness into my mouth. This would not be good for business, no matter how you construe it.

The best accompaniment to movie popcorn is cola. In my mind, there is no competition. I’d be happy to concede that a frozen cola equivalent may also be very good. But it is not the best. There is nothing more comforting then placing a giant cola cup in the drink compartment on the armrest of the movie seat. I’m salivating right now. I should clarify that I’m not addicted to cola. I can stop at any time. Moving right along…. If you thought that buying popcorn was extortion, then adding a giant beverage to complete the ensemble is not going to make your night. I’d ask you to reread point 1. and seek to engage in the illogical dream world of movie purchasing.

3. The Cola-Consumption-Conundrum

Unless you are superhuman you cannot avoid the inevitability that is the strong desire to visit the toilet after consuming copious amounts of cola, brought about by eating copious amounts of movie popcorn. Here is the problem: most movies run for about two hours, yet you will begin to consume the popcorn about 15 minutes before the movie commences. This requires drinking cola. This will require a visit to the little boys room- or the ladies lavatory, if you are so eloquently inclined- and, I should add, if you’re a lady.

As far as I can see your options are two. On the one hand your can miss about 3-4 minutes of the movie, depending on how fast you can pee (I’m sorry all eloquence has now left the building). This may result in missing strategic plot development or creating a bad impression with your date. Both of these are far from ideal. The second and- I hasten to think- the most common, is holding on. I’m not a medical doctor, but If you prescribe to the George Costanza School of Urinary Philosophy (GCSUP), holding on is not good! Not only is it uncomfortable, you cannot really become properly engrossed in the movie, nor can you give your fullest movie attention to your date, if such an action is required. By fullest movie attention I mean projecting a demeanor: relaxed ambivalence meets encapsulated critic.

4. What do I do with my greasy popcorn hands?

This is a tough question to answer. My first thought is simple: do not let that precious faux-butter go to waste. Lick your fingers! However, no matter which etiquette class you attended in finishing school, all will tell you that this is a faux pas. There is a new japanese invention that goes some way to remedying this situation. See below.

There are many problems with this contraption. Firstly, you run the risk of being a little too prepared. Let’s face it, when you are on a movie date, you want to be casual cool. If you magically pull out a popcorn utensil from your pants, things could go downhill pretty quickly. It’s just a little too weird. You also have the same problem, do you now lick the fake fingers? The second and most obvious problem is this contraption can only pick up one, or a couple, pieces of popcorn at a time. This is clearly not enough!

The final issues raised here is ‘where do I wipe my hands’? Mid-movie, your hands will have built up quite a layer of faux-butter and saliva- depending on your previous tact. As a side note, this could become an occupational health and safety risk if you plan on drinking more of your giant cola, as this could slip out of your hands and potentially onto yourself or your date. At the risk of stating the obvious, this is not good. You could surreptitiousness wipe your hands on your jeans, or if you have any form of self respect, you could opt for wiping them on the seat. Either way, you must go for the ‘stealth wipe’. Neither choice is really advised. There is a third and, perhaps, a more refined choice. It involves bringing in a handkerchief or some napkins. I’d steer away from this option, mainly due to post-wiping disposal issues. Do you put them napkins back in your pocket? Do you ask your date to put them in her handbag? Do you throw them over your shoulder? None of these are realistic options. In reality, this in a problem without a practical solution. Rest assured than my research will continue.

5. The Gobbler

You may not be directly familiar with the term gobbler, so let me paint you a picture. You are attending a movie with a group of peers. Some of these individuals you know well; some others you do not. As a good person, you offer your giant bucket too all your friends and pass it along the line. Without paying too much attention, you keep a peripheral eye on the amount of popcorn that is disappearing from your giant bucket. You may begin to calculate a price-per-popcorn-piece in your mind. You notice that when the bucket finds its way to the end of the line, the momentum stalls. There he is: the gobbler. He eats your popcorn like it’s going out of fashion. His gratification is mechanical. It’s relentless and passionate. It almost has a sexual energy about it. It’s disgusting! You do not like what you see. You hold in the urge to say something. Most of your popcorn is now gone. The gobbler is no urban myth. You may well know one gobbler. You may even know more than one. There should be laws against this vile act.

The Gobbler

The Gobbler

6. The almost-empty popcorn situation

I would contend that most, if not all, of us have been in this situation. The majority of the popcorn is gone; only a few remnants remain. The bucket may be in your lap, or it may be in the lap of another. This matters not. The outcome is equally disorienting, some may even say ‘chilling’.

You reach, essentially, into someone else’s lap and fumble around in search for some kernels to satisfy your whim. This situation is overwhelmingly awkward. Timing is so crucial. Ideally, you want a very fast and methodical extraction. If you linger too long, the energy changes and it becomes an unwanted moment. In this moment you have a number of choices. You can either put your head down and continue with your planned extraction of kernels. On the other hand, you may in fact panic and remove your hand prematurely with an insufficient amount of popcorn. This ends in great disappointment.

The most scary of situations is when you have been ‘digging’ for quite some time. What do you do? If you make eye contact, things could become altogether weird and out-of-hand. As a general rule, eye contact should be avoided at all cost. The other alternative is to apologize for your inadequate popcorn extraction ability. Yet this option seems somewhat bizarre. Apologies are generally reserved for matters very serious in nature. It seems like a paradox to apologize over the subject matter of popcorn.

Finally, I did not want to have to go here, but there is a final situation that trumps the fear imposed by both the gobbler and the almost-empty-eye-contact situation combined. I ask you this: what if there is no popcorn left? What if you reach then? Granted, the architecture of popcorn packaging differs depending on the manufacturer. But there is a situation where you could reach, accidentally, all the way through. I do not wish to discuss this any further on the grounds that the very fear and awkwardness of such a situation is too weighty to bear. But you need to know all the facts.


I hope you were both enlightened and comforted in the knowledge that you are not alone in the difficulty that comes with popcorn in the movie context. In the end the decision is yours. You have been given all the facts. You power is in your hands; your oh-so-buttery hands! For goodness sake, wouldya just wipe them on your pants!

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6 Comments on “Does Popcorn enhance the Movie Experience? By Dave”

  1. c.b Says:

    very well said.

    based on the evidence: popcorn is a hazard

    mostly cos im too poor

    • filmstank Says:

      “popcorn is a hazard mostly cos im too poor “

      Thanks for your reply.

      I would like to offer you a word of caution. Many individuals have found themselves in a similar situation to yourself. Whilst I do not know your popcorn eating tendencies currently- or up until this point in your life- your present financial circumstance is highly conducive to becoming a gobbler as such.

      For the sake of society in general, I’d encourage you to think long and hard before you inadvertantly go down that path.

      As a test, ask yourself this question: do I ever see ‘fresh’ popcorn on the ground and wonder if it’s still okay to eat? Let me answer this question for you: No! It’s never okay, not even if it’s less than 3 seconds.

      Many thanks 🙂

      Dave @ filmstank

      • c.b Says:

        Due to the overwhelmingly complex nature of the words you chose and the order in which you put them in your reply to my comment, i am a little unsure of what you were trying to imply.

        I’ve concluded that you made attempts at suggesting that I’m a gobbler? (please excuse if i’m wrong)

        I will explain myself: I am of the belief that if popcorn (or any other tasty snack), is offered to me by a friend or acquaintance, there are (obviously) 2 choices

        1. accept the offer graciously, take a modest handful (if popcorn remains the snack in question. Of course if they offered something of let’s say ‘higher value’ per gram e.g. bag of lollies, i would proceed to accept no more than 2 or 3) and be on my way.

        HOWEVER if i choose this option, I am flawed for several reasons.
        a) i now have the aftertaste of the deliciousness that was the offered delectable swimming in my mouth leaving me a horrid desire to want more. I now must proceed either by the old and faithful ‘grin n bear it’ philosophy and risk the spoiling of the movie as im now thoroughly distracted by the obvious, OR ‘ask for more’ and we all know how that turned out for Oliver Twist, need i say more.
        b) I’m willing to bet that the original offer made by my ‘friend/acquaintance’ was done out of compliance to a non-optional politeness protocol. Clearly s/he desired that i chose option 2 (which will be outlined in a moments time) as they are neither short of the original product which they poured their ‘hard earned’ into, nor do they hold a slight and dare i say excusable grudge against their so-called friend who has now put them in a ‘glass half empty’ mood (as they now have less)

        2. This option requires little explanation. Politely decline due to the understanding of the frustration that the former provides.

        I apologize for the long winded response and in an retort to your accusation, me thinks its obvious of which choice i make when im in such a predicament.


      • filmstank Says:

        Dear C.B.,

        I am in agreement with Sam. Thankyou for your comment. It was both insightful and useful.

        From your thorough decisional-point analysis it seems clear that your etiquette is formidable and would, resultantly, be non-conducive to taking on the position of gobbler. I would like to officially retract any implication of such an outcome.

        However, I do hope you understand my, perhaps, over-emotive reaction to the relentless gluttony that is typical of a gobbler. As a student, I have been victim to a gobbler on many occasions- as you may have guessed. It is a situation I wish upon no man, woman, friend nor foe.

        I think you captured the correct etiquette very succinctly.

        1. accept the offer graciously, take a modest handful (if popcorn remains the snack in question. Of course if they offered something of let’s say ‘higher value’ per gram e.g. bag of lollies, i would proceed to accept no more than 2 or 3) and be on my way.

        Clearly, your reference to ‘higher value per gram’ items demonstrates your depth of thinking on this matter. This is a very practical consideration.

        I can empathize with the scenario of having the ‘offered delectable swimming in my mouth leaving me a horrid desire to want more’. This sounds altogether undesirable. Let us both be thankful to Oliver Twist for taking one for the team- so to speak.

        I’m afraid to say that so long as this ‘non-optional politeness protocol’ exists, there will be those willing to exploit it.

        My guess is that you’d ordinarily refuse such an offer due to the potential frustration. I put to you, what if the offer to consume a popcorn or non-popcorn treat is not mere protocol? What if it’s a sincere attempt to offer hospitality? Would it not be impolite to decline?

        Dave @ filmstank

  2. Sam Says:

    Brilliantly said C.B.

    Thankyou for your insightful comment.

    Sam @ filmstank.

  3. c.b Says:

    Marvelous point Dave (@ filmstank)! I applaud you.

    In answer to your hypothetical proposition ‘What if it’s a sincere attempt to offer hospitality?’

    I believe first and foremost, a judgment call must be made on the motive of the offer in question i.e. whether or not there is sincerity in their efforts to engage a hospitable nature.

    It is highly likely that in a cinematic environment, the offer made is one of that which was proposed earlier in my follow up comment as a ‘non-optional politeness protocol’. Granted, this is certainly not always the case, however for the sake of making a point, I wouldn’t be so wrong to assume that (lets be specific) 9 out of 10 of these propositions were intended in the manner outlined above.

    Of course if the offer is made within the constraints and, ironically, the openness of a home environment, where the host has selflessly prepared a platter of treats, snacks and/or tasty beverages to accompany the entertainment of a ‘flick’ so to speak. The options are somewhat slim. Let me say this, it is down right rude and arrogant for the guest to refuse consumption of any of the consumables presented. I would be willing to excuse, however, avoidance of ‘mass’ consumption (a situation where the guest returns to the items of food/drink in excess of several occasions, politely and gratefully!). However, if there is zero compliance to the unspoken responsibility bestowed upon the guest, there proceeds an eerie and frighteningly real although unseen, air of embarrassment and rejection emitted from the host in question. If such a situation arose in a one on one interaction, the ‘air’ is exponentially thickened and I sense the Iron Maiden song titled “Run to the Hills” coming to mind. Enough said.

    Thank you for your time.


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