Snacking during movies is a common pastime for most Americans. At the theater, it is almost automatic to go straight from the ticket counter to the concessions counter to buy copious amounts of popcorn, candy and soda. Sometimes, people will even grab nachos or a hot dog. Why is it that Americans associate movies with food? There are many leading theories, of course, but a few make more sense than others. Here is some information on why and what people eat at the movies.
Why people tend to eat and drink during movies
According to the Smithsonian Magazine's blog, popcorn "was one of the first variations of maize cultivated in Central America." Although it has been around for centuries, popcorn did not become popular in movie theaters until the Great Depression, when popcorn was cheap and readily available. After that, popcorn and movies became inseparable; the comfort that popcorn had provided during the Great Depression seeped into everyday life and stuck around. One of the biggest reasons popcorn and soda are so popular at the movies is because of their mobility; popcorn can easily be carried through the lobby and into the theater. Because it is so strongly associated with the movies, people find themselves desiring the tasty treat from the smell alone. The drinks just make sense; popcorn is salty, so soda or water is needed to neutralize the saline.
Most popular snacking habits while watching movies
Popcorn is without a doubt the most popular snack for American moviegoers. It ties back into a level of comfort from financial depressions and world wars. It is also cheap and easy to make, so even people who watch movies at home will instinctively grab a plastic wrapped bag of popcorn to toss in the microwave. However, other snacks are available and readily eaten at the movie theater. Sean Morrow lists the six best movie theater snacks in his Hello Giggles article and agrees that large soft pretzels are a popular and tasty substitute for popcorn. The third favorite of Americans are Junior Mints, a brand of candy that is sweet on the outside with a cool mint flavor on the inside.
Most popular drinks to sip on during movies
Coca-Cola is traditionally the most popular soft drink at movie theaters across America. The sweet, non-alcoholic beverage counter-balances the salt in popcorn and soft pretzels. Luxury movie theaters such as Studio Movie Grill and Santikos Theaters have recently started offering alcoholic beverages such as beer and cocktails. Those are popular with the young adult audience, while children and older adults opt for soft drinks and slushies.
Whatever foods and drinks are added to the menu at movie theaters, popcorn and Coca-Cola will always be the traditional addition to a fantastic day at the movies. From candy to beer, theater menus are growing larger, but the reason the foods are consumed is for a simple reason: eating makes the experience even more enjoyable. After all, food and entertainment combined is one of the most comforting feelings in the world.