A food addict's travels on the road to recovery.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guest Post: Popcorn Perils

Let's all send Tammy our hellos and love across cyberspace!

Tammy asked me to guest post for her tonight - she's got some things going can't get on to post this evening, and since she didn't post last night, she didn't want to go two days during the week without a post, so here I am!

I was planning on talking about this on my own blog, so I'll just hijack my own post....

On both The Today show and The CBS Early Show this morning, they touched on a new report on a not so new subject of the perils of popcorn, more specifically, movie theater popcorn.

I can easily remember in my younger, more "I don't give a care what I am shoving into my body" days, walking into a theater and plopping down with a big ol bag of popcorn, a big, sweet soda and clutching a beautiful box of candy in my other hand, all ready to enjoy whatever I came to see. Of course, before the lights went dim for the previews, I had already inhaled my bounty, and usually had a little soda left to sip on throughout the show.

Of course, over the last few years, we have heard about the unbelievable caloric totals that the popcorn at most theaters, but a new study went a little more in depth.

Here are a few excerpts from The Today Show Article:

New laboratory tests conducted by the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest reveal that a $12 medium-popcorn-and-soda combo sold at Regal, the country’s largest movie-theater chain, contains 1,610 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat — the equivalent of three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with 12 pats of butter.

At AMC theaters, serving sizes are smaller but can still pack a wallop. A large popcorn has 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat — the equivalent of a pound of baby back ribs topped with a scoop of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, but with more fat.

At Cinemark, which pops its popcorn in heart-healthy canola oil, a large popcorn has 910 calories with 4 grams of saturated fat. “Though popping in canola gives this chain’s popcorn far less saturated fat than its competitors, it’s almost as high in calories and has the most sodium — about twice as much as Regal or AMC,” the Center for Science in the Public Interest said in a statement.

The giant sodas served at the movies also take a toll, the study said. To name just one example, a 54-ounce large soda at Regal has 33 teaspoons of sugar and 500 empty calories.

And don’t forget about the candy: A 5-ounce bag of Twizzlers contains 15 teaspoons of sugar. A 7-ounce box of Nerds contains 46 teaspoons of sugar. And an 8-ounce bag of Reese’s Pieces contains 1,160 calories and 35 grams of saturated fat.
I think back at how I used to eat so haphazardly and am surprised I was able to make it to 38. It also makes me very aware of the perils that are still out there, and how so many people choose to ignore them. The article also mentioned how some theaters tried to offer more healthy options a few years ago (1994), and they all flopped significantly.

One point, however, is that none of the theaters offer nutritional information to their patrons, and while in general, the "people just have no idea what they are eating" excuse is a dumb one, I do think seeing this information could possibly deter a few individuals from making these choices.

I know that a movie is a special treat that most of us do not have as a frequent occurrence in our day to day activities, so special treats seem to deserve allowances for extra indulgences, don't you agree? But, when you consider a drink, a popcorn and a box of candy combined has potentially 3,270 calories, and copious grams of saturated fats, sugars and sodium, is a movie really worth it?

I say smuggle in your own air popped popcorn, a bottle of water and enjoy the show!

Thanks Tammy! Its been fun!

Pam: Journey To The Healthier Side of Life


  1. Thanks Pam,
    That was an eye opener for me. We go to the cinema regularly, but very rarely buy popcorn sweets or drinks in the cinema. The cost is ridiculous, but it is not just the financial cost now is it, it is the cost to health. Those figures are scarey.

    Love to Tammy and thanks to you.


  2. Nice post, Pam! Quite informative!

    Tammy, I just saw that Jenn gave you an award... congratulations! You totally deserve the recognition!

  3. Definitely eye opening! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Wow, my eyes are opened. I need to buy an air popper. I wonder if they are still available with all of the microwave popcorn out there? Hi Tammy!!!!

  5. I posted a picture earlier today of my popcorn alternative snack for the movies. But if I do decide to get popcorn, I purchase the kiddie meals with the small bag and small drink.

  6. You know, I don't always eat healthy stuff, I have plenty of things that I indulge in (in moderate amounts), but movie theater crap has never interested me, and this post makes me really glad. Popcorn doesn't even taste that good, people! I mean seriously, when does anybody eat popcorn other than while watching a movie? You just think it tastes good because you're focused on the movie, not the actual crappy taste. And I don't drink soda, so that was never a problem. The candy is tasty, but six bucks for a smallish box? Uh-uh. Thanks for the informative post.

  7. Thanks everyone - it was an eye opener to me too when I saw the show and read the report!

    Dawne - yes you can still get air poppers - I got one at Target this summer for $15.00 - it uses 2 tablespoons of kernels and you get a nice big bowl popped.