Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Curtain Falls on Movie Popcorn!

I'm not sure what was the bigger surprise last night—my 14-yr-old daughter getting me to go with her to see New Moon (the latest Twilight movie) or coming home afterwards and reading an article about how bad the tub of popcorn (we had just eaten) was for me. The article was in a newsletter I subscribe to—Nutrition Action Health Letterthat's published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. If you've never read it, you should check it out.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was founded in 1971. It's an independent nonprofit consumer health group that's supported by subscribers to the newsletter and foundation grants. CSPI accepts no government or industry funding and the newsletter accepts no advertising. CSPI advocates honest food labeling and advertising and safer and more nutritious foods. Their information is pretty solid without bias towards any particular group.

So, back to my "big surprise." I had received the December issue of Nutrition Action, but hadn't had time to read it yet. So, after the movie, I plopped down on the sofa and pictured right on the cover of the newsletter was a huge tub of popcorn. This got my full attention because I had just had that same tub in my lap about 30 minutes earlier. The headline on the cover read, "BIG—Movie Theaters Fill Buckets...and Bellies." The article begins, "Ready to sit back and enjoy the movie? Not yet. First, the theater is hoping you'll stop by the concession stand for a snack. You know, something light...like, say, a bucket of popcorn with the calories of a Hamburger plus a Quarter Pounder plus a Big Mac at McDonalds." I started to feel nauseous as all that popcorn began to churn in my stomach.

I took a deep breath and kept reading to discover that you can go from 400 to 1,200 calories depending on the size of popcorn. The candy options range from 300 to 1,100 empty calories and soda calories range from 150 to 500 calories! The stomach started churning again. I did feel a little resolve for I only had a popcorn. (Okay, it was a large, but I didn't have candy and I split the popcorn with my daughter. Plus we shared a Diet Coke. I'm such a good dad.)

This new revelation wasn't sitting too well with me because I was still fuming from the amount I spent for just popcorn ($6.50) and a soda ($4.50)! When I was handed the soda it felt light, so I popped the lid to discover it was 3/4 full. So I showed it to the manager, who promptly said, "I'm sorry sir." and then plopped in another scoop of ice! No lie! I took a deep breath, counted to 3 (1...2...3...), and then said, "Excuse me, Sir. I didn't want more ice, I want the $1.13 part of my soda that's missing." Luckily, the manager chuckled, and gave me a new, completely full soda (all $4.50 worth!). Of course my daughter's rolling her eyes while all of this is happening, cause she scared she's going to miss some of the movie.

So, now on top of having to take out a bank loan for the movie refreshments, I discover I just ate enough fat and calories for the next day and I haven't even had diner yet. The Nutrition Action article reports on a little investigative work it did to uncover the truth about movie snacks. Popcorn and topping samples from Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Theaters, and Cinemark were sent to an independent lab for analysis. Each theater provided nutrition information for its snacks. To make sure the test was accurate and fair, three different samples from three different theaters for each company were analyzed.

I never thought of movie popcorn as being healthy and I knew it was fattening, but I never expected to see the numbers that the study revealed.

Small Pop Corn
Regal11 cups; popped in coconut oil; 34g sat fat; 670 calories; 550mg sodium (1Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—130 calories; 2g sat fat)
AMC6 cups; popped in coconut oil; 20g sat fat; 370 calories; 210mg sodium (1Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—120 calories; 2g sat fat)
Cinemark8 cups; popped in non-hydrogenated canola oil; 2g sat fat; 420 calories; 690mg sodium (1Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—130 calories; 2g sat fat)

Medium Pop Corn
Regal
20 cups; popped in coconut oil; 60g sat fat; 1,200 calories; 980mg sodium (1.5 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—200 calories; 3g sat fat)
AMC9 cups; popped in coconut oil; 33g sat fat; 590 calories; 330mg sodium (1.5 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—180 calories; 3g sat fat)
Cinemark14 cups; popped in non-hydrogenated canola oil; 3g sat fat; 760 calories; 1,240mg sodium (1.5 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—200 calories; 3g sat fat)

Large Pop Corn
RegalSame as the Medium. The medium comes in a bag and the large comes in a tub which looks bigger because it's tapered at the top, but it's not. With the large, you do get free refills. (2 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—260 calories; 4g sat fat)
AMC16 cups; popped in coconut oil; 57g sat fat; 1,030 calories; 580mg sodium (2 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—240 calories; 4g sat fat)
Cinemark17 cups; popped in non-hydrogenated canola oil; 4g sat fat; 910 calories; 1,500mg sodium (1.5 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—260 calories; 5g sat fat)

Surprising, huh? At least our movie was at a Cinemark, so our popcorn was popped in non-hydrogenated canola oil and the entire tub only had 4g of saturated fat and we only ate about 2/3 of the bucket. (Okay, I'm just trying to justify our bad snack, but hey, for the sake of precious father-daughter time...I guess it was worth it.)

Luckily, I can't afford to go to the movies very often, but next time I do, I'm thinking I may have to smuggle in some Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop! 1 bag of Smart Pop only has 260 calories and 4 grams of fat (only 1 of which is saturated).

24 comments:

Kenley said...

As a frequent movie goer, I do think this post is awesome. I say, coke with little ice to avoid the ice issue. About the popcorn, WOW WOW WOW. I think I will do the same with the orvil smart pop thingy. Its really easy to do in the winter time with all these pockets. lol. Right now, my wife and I usually sneak in 2 bottles of water. I think for 2 at the movies you can get a whole 35 pack at the groceries. Also, if I know Im going to the movies that night, I try to get in a really good work out b4 hand. BTW, I got the mat and just an 8 pound ball at Target to start those core exercises. Thanks for the posts and keep it up. How was "New Moon" btw? Personally I am tired of the vampire bit, but hey, to each their own. Well, time to go to the movies. lol

runrgrl2007 said...

Thanks Thad. You just took the fun out of the movies! I am just kidding...but it did make me go back and think of all I had eaten at the movies...we didn't finish the tub of popcorn! YAY for the small things. At least yours cost alot less than ours did, large tub of popcorn, two diet cokes $17.50 x 2...we had two teenagers seeing New Moon. Glad you had fun!

Tami said...

who can afford to go to the movies!!! i still say the best popcorn is when you put oil in a pot and add the kernels and cook it up yourself, then add what you want (Vermont cheese powder is our new favorite)

Badgergirl said...

Thankfully I only go to the movie theater once or twice a year. So I can justify the insanely expensive and unhealthy movie theater popcorn. And of course, I read about on a Web site Thursday. And where I was I Friday? Watching "New Moon" with a small popcorn in hand.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Kenley!You sounds like us! LOL! We have 3 kids and we often will take big cups to divide up the popcorn and we only go to the theater that gives refills. LOL! Now looking at the nutrition info, I'm glad we can't afford to go more often.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Runrgrl2007! Sorry! Man, your snack bill was a lot more than ours. There are 5 in my family. We often go over to the $2 theater in Sedgefield. Oh well, moderation, I always say. I thin a tub of popcorn once in a New moon, oops I mean "blue moon" is okay.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Tami! I'm with ya! Home popped is the best!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Badgergirl! Moderation is the key. For us anyways...the movies are a special treat.

Molly said...

Movie theater popcorn is really scary, but I want to read your review of New Moon! Jealous!!
: )

RunnerDude said...

Hey Molly! You don't really want me to give away all the movie secrets do you? LOL! Let's just say that I far more enjoyed the time with my daughter than the movie itself. But then again, I'm not a 14-year-old teeniebopper. LOL!! Although...I have to admit....it would be nice to have that wolfboy's abs. I'm working on it, but I don't think any hollywood producers will come a knockin. LOL!!!

Boris T. said...

It's amazing how many calories you can consume unknowingly. Popcorn it my favorite treat and I can eat tonnes.

Zoë said...

Oh! Say it ain't so! I had AMC's popcorn at New Moon today, too. It was goooood. But, I justify it with the 11 miler I completed earlier this morning. ;)
Moderation, for sure.

Lorenda said...

I can't believe this!! I just came from a movie! AND I had a small popcorn. I had a coupon for a free small popcorn and Sunday night is student night and even very old college students get the student deals (4.00-half price!!) Love my student ID!!
The theater I go to had signs awhile back saying they were changing to a new oil for popcorn, I can't remember what it was but it was supposed to be better. Peanut oil, maybe.
Oh well, as you said, it's ok every once in a while!

Molly said...

I hate to say it, but I read all the Twilight books, and I'm definitely not the target age group!
Just the fact that your teenage daughter let you take her to the movies is huge, you're a great Dad.

LookingUpAgain said...

I absolutely love popcorn! It doesn't matter if it's the microwave, stove-popped, or movie theater type. Too bad there has to be bad calories in all of the good food :) When we go, we only get the medium bag and never buy candy. I have to share with my husband so it's not too bad...though I could eat the whole bag by myself :) Did you enjoy the movie? I'm waiting for the teenage girls to finish swarming the theaters before I go.

Kenley said...

I love popcorn, but it gives me bubble gut, especially with soda. And yes I love being cheap. Sneaking in the bottled water and cheaper candies from Target. lol

Anonymous said...

Funny that you think that Smart Pop is significantly less calories than movie theatre popcorn. It's all about portion size. Buy a Junior popcorn at Cinemark and you'll only be consuming 190 calories and less than a gram of saturated fat. The difference between that and a comparable amount of Smart Pop is about 40 calories.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Boris! Welcome to the blog! I'm right with ya man. I love popcorn. Moderation. Moderation. Moderation.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Zoe! I did a 45-min resistance training session and a 3-mile speed work session at the gym the next day. LOL!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Lorenda! I'm a full believer in a treat once in a while! :-)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Molly! You're not alone. I know several adults who are into the books.

RunnerDude said...

Hey LookingUpAgain! I could eat the whole tub myself too! But a little self control, sharing, and only doing it once in a while ain't so bad. LOL!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Anonymous! LOL! Funny that you should suggest getting a jr. LOL!! The small looks like the size of a Chinese Take out carton.I can't imagine what Jr. look like. Something Barbie would eat? LOL!! You're right about the Cinemark popcorn compared to Smart Pop, but if you're going to one of the other theaters (Regal or AMC) you're getting something like 20-34g of saturated fat with a Small, so Smart Pop would be the Smart Choice.

Fit2betied said...

HOLY cow! I think I will keep smuggling in my own snacks.