This week, a tweet popped up from a local news station promoting a ‘Consumer Alert’ that would ‘make you think twice’ about getting snacks at a cinema. I didn’t end up watching, but I was momentarily worried that a member of the (generally great) staff was caught not washing their hands or something, but Jackie reminded me that in news ‘stings’, the business being, er, stung gets the right of rebuttal.
I didn’t watch the report, but I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about. Because, now and then, the Food Police try to intervene at the cinema. This is usually because a media outlet has (again) revealed that, gasp!, movie theatre popcorn isn’t very healthy! Did you hear? A small cinema popcorn with that oily yellow topping has more saturated fat than a Big Mac! The large has more calories than a rack of elephant ribs!
These people also comment on the availability of soda (it’s not good for you!), juice with added sugar (have you thought about serving all-natural juices?), and candy/chocolate (YOU SHOULD ONLY SERVE ORGANIC FAIR TRADE) and the lack of fruit and other healthy snacks.
First of all, these things are available because people like them. People do not (usually) go to the movies to have some blueberries and coconut water. Our organic, fair trade chocolate bars are the worst sellers (so far), but we do offer them (and some of the Fair Trade Dairy Milk line). Juice with added sugar has a much longer shelf life and is cheaper. The less sweetened varieties actually don’t sell as well. People like soda. We don’t have room to store produce in quantity.
When the food police intervene, and in fairness, it’s usually popcorn related, our usual reply is ‘You don’t have to eat it’ or ‘It’s not meant to be eaten every day’ (doesn’t stop me some weeks, mind) or ‘You could order the extra-small, no butter, since it’s only the equivalent of a double-dipped Pogo’*. What I would like to say is ‘SATURATED FAT IS WOOOOONNNNNDERFUL!’ Seriously. Coconut oil is fucking great for making popcorn. The smoking point is hella high and the kernel gets to a great heat before it pops, resulting in fluffier corn, more shattered shells (so fewer bits get caught in your teeth), and fewer unpopped bits. Butter is also delicious. This is what we put on our corn if you want ‘topping’. We will not be changing a tried and true recipe because OMG BECEL IS SO MUCH HEALTHIER, because it just doesn’t taste as nice.
Movies are a luxury, and movie snacks and their delicious unhealthiness can be part of that. We don’t mind if people bring their own, healthier snacks in as long as they clean up after themselves. (Seriously, though, clean up the mountain of pistachio shells you’ve left behind.)
Just like it’s not really our business to force people to watch movies they don’t want to see (‘Oh, we’re not playing The Artist tonight. We’ve decided that more people should see Tree of Life instead. BTW, you can’t leave!!’), we’re not going to switch to all-organic salad bar with only the finest artisanal bottled waters. People don’t want that, really. So please stay out of their business, and ours.
Also, do you know how bloody loud apple-eating in a near-silent movie theatre is? Very.
(* Please note, I did not actually look up calorie and fat-content for this blog post.)
Speaking of food luxuries, I think I’m going vegan for Lent. More on that tomorrow, probably.