Red Band Rant: Why Movie Popcorn Is The Worst

Tom Cruise eats popcorn on a couch in a Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One promo.
(Image credit: Paramount)

Warning: the following Red Band Rant contains coarse language, sketchy ideas and more words than necessary to prove its point. If you are easily offended or fearful of crazy men calling out all you hold dear, please navigate away from this page immediately.

At some point before I was born, Samuel Goldwyn or Mack Sennett or some other suited dude from Hollywood’s Golden Age decided popcorn was going to be the official food of motion pictures. Like hotdogs and baseball games or mixed nut bowls and stripping, this activity and snack combination were forcibly wedged together, assumedly because of how both easily operate in the dark. Movies are better viewed with the lights down, and any fool with basic coordination skills can maneuver a small, vaguely circular object into his or her mouth. It actually makes a lot of sense, at least if you ignore the fact that movie popcorn fucking sucks. I made the best of it for years, pretending it was delicious. Then I willingly abstained, making up excuses to curious parties about why I didn’t want a handful. Now I’m finally ready to publicly out myself. I hate movie popcorn and a bet a lot of you do too.

For years, industrious people have sweated through thinking caps and burnt out cartoon idea bulbs to make our lives more comfortable. In many respects, they’ve succeeded. We now live in a world where music exists in a cloud and shampoo can be purchased at the same store as a Blu-Ray. That smells like success to me. Unfortunately, despite all these technological wonders, every time I go to the movies it still reeks like Orville Redenbacher firehosed cheap butter and salt in all directions. At what point do we stop and shout, “There has to be a better way”? I’m proud to say I haven’t purchased popcorn in over fifteen years, but one bearded dude with a floppy haircut can’t fight the man alone. It’s never going to get better until more of you start saying no to this flavorless abomination.

Even the best batch of popcorn, the Fiddlest of the Faddles, barely qualifies as food in my book, but movie theaters don’t even offer anything close to the choicest product. Utilizing machines often decades old, they churn the stuff out at a frenetic pace and then leave it sitting there, exposed to the elements, for untold amounts of time. Perhaps worse, they don’t even really butter it. In an attempt to accommodate Joe Douchebag or Jennifer Douchette with an abhorrence for extra calories, they leave the buttering to the general public, which would be fine if anyone had ever invented a way to evenly disperse the stuff. Of course, they haven’t; so, people are forced to douse the top layer like they’re putting on suntan lotion. Those top twenty pieces are almost as disgusting as the noise people make eating them.

It’s no secret that table manners have slowly eroded in American society, but I’m not sure there’s ever been a point in history when people didn’t eat popcorn like fucking hillbillies going to town on deer jerky. Jiffy Pop might as well stamp Please Eat Me Loudly And With Your Mouth Open on every goddamn kernel. Perhaps worse, most people don’t even bother loading up on napkins in preparation. If a food leaves some kind of residue on your hands every time you pick it up, that shit requires constant between bite wiping. I get ribs. That’s a messy food worthy of making hands sticky, but popcorn isn’t anywhere close to that level of deliciousness. It’s a half step above eating a plain rice cake.

A poor excuse for nourishment, the Native Americans mistakenly stumbled upon popcorn five thousand years ago, and bored people without other options have been mindlessly eating it ever since. Maybe it works as a nice complement to freshly slaughtered buffalo, but as a standalone, it lacks imagination, depth and excitement. If there were anything worthwhile about popcorn, eating it wouldn’t make me wish I were instead consuming pretzels, chips, oyster crackers or anything else frequently set out in a haphazard manner on coffee tables.

It might sound like I’m angling for a complete ban on movie popcorn here, but I can assure you I am not. If idiots more interested in tradition than taste want to order it until they’re buried in crumb-ridden suits, they should have that option. Some enthusiasts are beyond the point of possible conversion, but there has to be a hell of a lot of people out there in my boat. There just has to be. There’s no way everyone in the entire fucking world has failed to notice how goddamn awful movie popcorn is. Those are the moviegoers I’m talking to.

The rest of us need more options. Sure, a lot of movie theaters have added hotdogs and various candies, but I’m not sure a single human being has ever said, “These Cookie Dough Bites are delicious” or “Let’s not eat before the movie so we can save room for those awesome theater nachos”. It just doesn’t happen, but no one does a damn thing about it because an overwhelming majority of people are content with the status quo. Well, fuck that. Popcorn proponent or not, I think we can all agree there’s plenty of room for improvement, and the best place to start is with French fries.

Every rundown hamburger stand in America has its own fry recipe. Admittedly, the output from those recipes varies wildly, but there’s no reason why AMC and Regal couldn’t hire a chef to figure out a delicious and easily reproduced fry formula. Once that’s ironed out, a fryer could be installed in all the chain’s theaters, and we could be munching on something edible by Christmas. The companies could charge five dollars for a large, and most of us would be happy to pay it. Can you imagine living in a world where you could fork over a sawbuck at the movies to consume something you’d actually pay for on the outside? That sounds like fucking heaven. They could even offer curly fries for the weirdos out there too.

Until this dream becomes a reality, I’ll keep fighting the good fight by smuggling in Cosmic Brownies. They’re like fucking medium-rare filet mignons in comparison to the embarrassment that is popcorn.

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Mack Rawden
Editor In Chief

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.