Why Do People Eat Popcorn At The Movies?

In American culture, popcorn and movies just go together. The association is so strong, in fact, that people joke about wanting to get some popcorn to munch on whenever there’s an entertaining spectacle to watch. But how did the link between popcorn and movies come to be?

You might be surprised to learn that while popcorn became popular at fairs, circuses, and outdoor sports events with the invention of the steam-powered popcorn maker in the late 1800’s, it was initially nowhere to be found in movie theaters. According to the Smithsonian, theater owners were worried about popcorn kernels ruining their carpet and upholstery, not to mention the sounds of munching and crunching creating a distraction in an era when film were still silent.

Two factors led to popcorn’s takeover as movie-goer’s snack of choice. One was the introduction of films with sound in 1927, which increased the mass appeal of movies and also lessened concerns about distracting background noises. The second was the start of the Great Depression. While many theater chains struggled, owners looked for ways to improve their profit margins, and discovered a solution in selling snacks. From the theater owner’s perspective, popcorn was an especially attractive snack option, since a large bag of kernels could be bought cheaply and last for years. Theaters with concessions saw profits not only weathered the storm of the Depression, but saw their profits increase, while theaters that refused to offer concessions struggled.

World War II cemented the association between movies and popcorn that the Depression started. Shortages of sugar caused problems for sweet snack options like candy and soda, but popcorn stayed readily available and just as tasty as ever. By the end of the 40’s, the idea of watching a movie was inextricably linked with eating popcorn in the American popular imagination.

Even if you’re having a movie night at home instead of going to a theater, you might find that the experience just doesn’t feel right without popcorn. That’s when you turn to Topsy’s! Our gourmet popcorn comes in a classic buttery flavor for the traditional movie experience, but you can also change things up by choosing cheese, caramel, or cinnamon flavors as well. A 1-gallon tin is the perfect size to pass around for the whole family to snack on. Order one today or stop by our store on Kansas City’s historic Country Club Plaza, and make the most of your next movie night with the delicious taste of Topsy’s!

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