Well, I would like to say I will save you all the history and science terminology of what popcorn is and all the jargon that explains why it pops, but I won’t. You need to understand the correlation between popcorn and movies.
We all have been to the movies a couple of times, and probably never miss to get a packet of popcorn and a drink as we go in to treat ourselves to a moment of imagination, and wonder as we travel through someone else’s mind and simply allow ourselves to be entertained.
Now, there are two kinds of popcorn flakes –the Butterfly flakes, which are irregularly shaped pieces with wings, considered to have a more pleasant mouth feel and is generally used for movie and everyday snacking popcorn: and the Mushroom flakes, which take on a more ball shape, making them less fragile and often used for prepackaged popcorn and confectionery like caramel corn.
Why Is Popcorn Such A Popular Snack At The Movies?
It’s buttered, it’s salted, it’s plain but it’s always hot and delicious (or it should be) but why do we all hanker for popcorn at the movies, and pop it when we watch at home? Popcorn itself has been around 8,000 years since corn was first cultivated, but it’s been a movie theatre staple for far less time.
As far as the talking pictures are concerned, popcorn was a big no-no at the first theatres. Movie theatres wanted nothing to do with popcorn because they were trying to duplicate what was done in real theatres. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.
Popcorn was basically the food of the streets, and as such, had no place in hoity-toity movie theatres. Plus when there wasn’t sound playing during the days of silent films, the crunch of your neighbour is even more annoying.
Eventually, movies added sound, and the movie theatre industry started to broaden its horizons. When the Great Depression hit, audiences flooded movie theatres seeking an escape from the everyday blues. And there was popcorn, cheap, mobile and tasty. At first, people would just walk in with their popcorn purchased on the street, despite the protestations of theatre workers.
Movie theatre owners finally bowed under the pressure from customers who were going to eat popcorn at the movies whether they liked it or not, and started allowing vendors to shill their snacks in the lobby of the street or right outside for a fee.
Things really kicked into high gear during World War II, as wartime rations severely limited the competition from other snacks that required sugar. By the time the war was over, popcorn was firmly entrenched in the hearts of movie lovers everywhere.
Once microwaves started popping up in homes later in the 20th century, popcorn was there to stake its claim as the proper snack companion to living room theatres as well.
For some, the movie-going experience is simply incomplete without a bucket of buttery yellow popcorn. The tie is not only a personal and cultural connection, but it’s also actually an economic one as well.
Popcorn pulled movie theatres from bankruptcy during the Great Depression and it still accounts for as much as half of the profit generated by movie theatres today more so than the actual ticket price, which has to be shared with the movie studios distributors.
By charging that outrageous and frankly insane mark-up we pay at the concessions, the movie theatre can keep ticket prices lower and make their profit selling snacks and treats. Ultimately it is this little puff of air and starch that is responsible for keeping movies in business. For without popcorn, there simply would be no theatres, and perhaps no movies at least not the way we know them. Whether you partake or not, know that this simple ancient snack help make film and film making possible
Source: Smithsonian Magazine, Film Maker IQ, Consumerist