A trip the movies is an interesting study of the human condition. Where else are you going to sit in total silence within spitting distance of dozens of strangers for two hours? (These days, it’s more like three hours.) Spend enough time at the picture show and you’ll notice that movie-goers are very particular about their snacking habits. Some swear by concession stand pretzel bites; others sneak in entire feasts. Still others subsist entirely on the mighty ICEE.
But the real controversy is less about snack selection and more about snack timing. Do you sit down and immediately start eating your popcorn? Do you dig into your Red Vines in that strange, Maria Menounos–narrated space before the trailers begin? Or do you exercise a sort of monastic restraint, only digging into your concessions once the title sequence rolls across the screen? We’ve got thoughts.
Going to the movies is all about treating yourself. Though we all grumble about the cost of admission these days, the $15 ticket price means that you’ve made an investment in the next three-ish hours of your life, and you should thus live those hours to the fullest. That includes snacking like you’re on a mini-vacation, as far as I’m concerned. So go ahead, eat that popcorn and crack open those candy boxes as soon as you find your seat.
There are practical reasons for doing this. For one thing, it’s best to do all that cellophane-rustling before the film starts so you don’t miss crucial plot points while trying to open a stubborn bag of Sour Patch Watermelons. And you’ll want to check that your popcorn is dressed with exactly as much butter and salt as you wish, so you have time to run back to the lobby and make changes if needed.
But beyond that, I dig into my treats immediately because I actually don’t mind if the candy or popcorn doesn’t last all the way through the movie. I don’t want to be chomping during the film’s emotional third-act climax, anyway. These foods taste best paired with the most hopeful part of the movie, when we’re introduced to the world of the story (bustling London) and haven’t yet identified our antagonists (anyone who does wrong by Paddington). —Marnie Shure, managing editor
I worked at a movie theater for a while after college, and I definitely consumed more popcorn than was medically advisable. I worked dinner shifts, so popcorn became one of my core food groups. After a while, what was once a special-occasion food became a daily staple, totally losing its significance—almost like when you say the word “lamp” 20 times and it loses its meaning.
Now, long after my last projector room shift, I’m careful with my popcorn consumption. It feels like a special treat again, and I want to make sure it stays that way. With that, I usually don’t let myself take a bite until after the trailers end. It’s the Christmas Day effect; the idea that, if I make myself wait to enjoy the treat, it’ll taste even better. Plus, I’m a messy eater. My neighbors don’t need to witness me chowing on that sweet, sweet corn until the lights go all the way down. —Lillian Stone, staff writer