Movie Theater Popcorn: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Posted on April 3, 2011 at 9:00 am
The Food and Drug Administration released its proposed rules on disclosure of nutritional and calorie information for the food served in chain restaurants. But intense lobbying by the theater industry has led to a great big loophole — movie snacks are not covered, “even though a large popcorn and soda can contain as many calories as a typical person needs in a day.”
Movie theaters have to send all of their first few weeks’ ticket sale revenues to the studio. They get to keep a portion only later, after early crowds have already seen the films. They make their money on the jumbo snacks with the jumbo mark-ups. (Movie popcorn usually costs them less than the cardboard vats it is served in). And they know that giving consumers accurate information about the calorie and fat content of the snacks might scare customers into coming into the theater with a pocket full of baby carrots to munch on instead. The trade association argued that people want to take a break from their diets when they go to the movies, just like they want to take a break from their daily lives. That may be true, but it is no reason to keep them from the information they need to make that decision.