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Cinema's Calorie Cuisine
by Asa Butcher
2010-03-03 07:53:30
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"Last time I went to the movies I was thrown out for bringing my own food. My argument was that the concession stand prices are outrageous. Besides, I haven't had a Bar-B-Que in a long time."
- Steven Wright, comedian

Popcorn is the quintessential cinema snack, be it salted, sweet, toffee or plain, and today the average cinema-goer isn't happy unless one hand is stretching around its rectangular cardboard tub and the other hand is struggling to maintain a grip on the accompanying barrel of soft drink. As a cinema patron for almost two decades, I have grown to loathe the hideous quantities these cinema snacks are offered and the selfish attitude of people who leave the excess scattered across the floor.

I am not making a stand against popcorn, bagged sweets or fizzy drinks per se - maybe on another day - but the fact that many people seem to treat a visit to the cinema as a chance to challenge their ability to mindlessly feed their face with a pointless snack that is high in fat, sugar and salt, while a 375g (13oz) bucket - a 'bucket' for goodness sake - was likely to contain around 1,800 calories, which is the same as a meal of pizza, garlic bread and dessert.

Add to this the keg of carbonated drink that has to be purchased because eating popcorn severely dehydrates, or it is just cheaper to buy the Cinema Party Pack. Many cinemas now offer 64 oz buckets of drink, which equals to just over three pints, so if you consider that the average adult bladder can hold 10-20 oz of urine then it is no surprise these idiots will need to disturb everybody in the row when nature starts shouting half-an-hour in. Why, oh why, do these people always sit in the middle and never on the end of the row?

What convinces so many people that they can't survive about 100 minutes without this much sustenance? What is wrong with a can or a bottle of drink accompanied by a small box of popcorn? Not only would both of these items be consumed by the time the trailers and advertisements had finished leaving us without the rustle and slurp sound effects, but it would also mean a drastic reduction in waste.

How many times have you seen half-full popcorn buckets just abandoned on the floor at the closing credits? What makes some cinema patrons think that it the job of the cinema's staff to dispose of your rubbish when there are often bins beside the exits? I get fed up picking the unpopped kernels from of the sole of my shoe on the way home and then have to wash my clothes because of the stubborn popcorn smell - at least there's no smoking in cinemas anymore.

Granted, I am nit-picking now about minor irritations, but we should return to the point of these gross quantities that are contributing to an obese population. There is a real health danger presented by the availability of XL and XXL concession snacks, especially to children who are treated by parents to these items; would a parents give their child a large bottle of Coke and a three-course meal to accompany a film at home?

New UK research revealed in February that eight out of 10 men and almost seven in 10 women will be overweight or obese by 2020, while earlier this week US research claimed that obese children as young as three years-old show signs of future heart disease. These two pieces of news should shock us into action, yet I imagine too many people are nonchalant concerning revelations such as these. I believe the cinema chains should shoulder some of the responsibility by reigning in these excessive quantities; surely they see the waste left on their floors - hopefully it isn't swept up and returned to the machines…

I am not advocating banning popcorn or other confectionery completely from cinemas because I enjoy a bag of chocolate M&Ms during a film, but there has got to be some control on 'buckets' before cinemas will have to follow airline policy of banning the obese from their screens or start offering bucket seats too. Time will tell.

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