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Tom Germond
He’s only there for the popcorn
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Timing is essential to make the most of the great American pastime of overeating high-priced, overbuttered popcorn at the movies.

If you get in the line at the concession stand too early, you may speed eat most of your popcorn before half the previews are over.

And then what are you going to do? No fun smelling and listening to others munch on their popcorn.

You also don’t want to be in line when the popcorn machine is almost empty and your server has to scrape the popcorn from the bottom of it to fill your bag. Yuk. Might as well bite into acorns.

I learned the hard way. Serving stale popcorn should be a felony, punishable by making the concession manager eat an entire tub of it – before the previews begin.

Just can’t seem to resist the temptation of buying movie popcorn, despite the findings of a study by Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The study said that “popcorn and soda, sold at one of the country’s largest movie chains, contains the equivalent amount of calories and fat as three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with 12 pats of butter. This adds up to 1,610 calories (one day’s worth of calories for many people) and 60 grams of saturated fat.”

The study was hardly objective. What it didn’t take into account was how damn good movie popcorn tastes.

At least I consume only a medium bag of buttered popcorn by the time the movie is over. When I was at a theater recently, a woman asked the snack guy to put the butter in her popcorn tub in increments, instead of lathering just the top of the kernels. Monkey see, monkey do. The next person in line asked for the same. I wonder what the pointy heads at the Center for Science would have to say about that?

I asked my staff if they buy popcorn at the movies and got mixed answers.

“I buy it whenever I can afford the popcorn and the calories,” an editor said.

Some people bring their own popcorn to the movies, whether they are allowed to or not.

Buying popcorn is not part of “of the social contract that goes with buying a ticket,” a co-worker said, disgusted at the cost of the stuff.

I don’t bring popcorn from home. If I did, by the time I get to the theater it will be cold and devoid of its intoxicating aroma. But the least the theaters could do is allow you to use one of their microwaves – for a slight fee, of course – to heat up your popcorn from home – or a Quarter Pounder.

About did a double take recently when one of our local theaters was giving away small bags of popcorn. Not sure why they were doing that. It wasn’t Orville’s birthday. Of course, I had to upsize mine to a medium bag.

Perhaps that’s why the theater was packed on that day. I saw “Saving Mr. Banks.” At the end of the movie, people applauded the show. Not me. I was only there for the popcorn.

Hearing the applause you’d think that Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were in the audience. Wonder if they eat movie popcorn?

Instead of applauding at a theater screen, people should react to the popcorn, such as by leaving signs on their seats for the management to review:

“Great popcorn. I ate so much I threw up.”

“Yummy. Went back for seconds.”

“Bad popcorn. I ate so much I threw up.”

“Love the popcorn; it sticks to the colon.”

“Yuk. The popcorn tasted like acorns.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest didn’t mince words in 2009 in its comments on movie theater popcorn, saying lab tests show “it’s still the Godzilla of snacks.” Maybe so, but I’ve yet to see a surgeon general’s warning on a tub of popcorn.

Far be it for me to tell anyone to stop eating popcorn at theaters.

Just go easy on the salt. That stuff will kill you.

Tom Germond is executive editor of Tampa Bay Newspapers. Email
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