Friday, March 11, 2011

Movie Popcorn's Dark Secret

My daughter wants me to take her to the movies this weekend, so I thought I'd write a little something about movie popcorn. I've actually written about movie popcorn before, but thought it was worth repeating.

We all think of popcorn as a nice, low cal snack. Popcorn actually is a nice, light, low cal snack when we air-pop it at home.

But, in yet another case of let the buyer beware, movie theatre popcorn is a totally different animal. As you can read here:, movie theatre popcorn is just a cornucopia of calories.

Here's the drill:

Regal says that its medium popcorn has 720 calories and that its large has 960. But CSPI's lab tests found that those numbers were understated. Regal’s medium and large sizes each had 1,200 calories and, thanks to being popped in coconut oil, 60 grams of saturated fat. (The large size looks bigger, thanks to its titanic tub, but it costs a dollar more and comes with a free refill.) A "small" at Regal has 670 calories and 34 grams of saturated fat. That’s about as many calories as a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza—except the popcorn has three times the saturated fat. Even shared with another person, that size provides nearly an entire day’s worth of the kind of fat that clogs arteries and promotes heart disease. And every tablespoon of "buttery" oil topping adds another 130 calories. Asking for topping is like asking for oil on French fries or potato chips, according to CSPI.

AMC, the second largest theater chain, also pops in coconut oil but has smaller serving sizes. Its large popcorn has 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat. That's like eating a pound of baby back ribs topped with a scoop of Häagen-Dazs ice cream—except that the popcorn has an additional day’s worth of saturated fat. A medium has 590 calories and 33 grams of saturated fat; and a small has 370 calories and a day’s worth—20 grams—of saturated fat. (Like Regal, AMC reports calorie counts lower than those returned in CSPI's lab tests.)

With calorie and fat counts like that I say "enjoy the movie, but skip the popcorn."

It also gets me riled up for another rant. Could someone please explain to me why movie theaters just can't sell plain old air-popped popcorn??? Why is it that they have to sell this calorie laden junk?

I actually would like to get a tub of popcorn to munch on in the movies, but knowing that a tub medium tub of popcorn contains 1,200 calories (without the greasy, "butter") and puts me on the road to a coronary stops me.


  1. thanks for theinfo.. I am heading to a movie tomorrow. I knew it was bad, but wowza!!! ITs horrible!!
    new follower- Robin

  2. I am terrible. I still bring in popcorn because of how awful movie popcorn is. You are ABSOLUTELY right, why can't they offer an alternative.

    I can't eat air popped, the texture is weird to me. But I have figured out that I can pop it on the stove with only about a teaspoon of oil.

  3. Hi, I found your blog via your photo on Jack's W.I.D.T.H. Just ahd to say "thanks". Love your site. Like you, I'm in my 40's (and half way to my weight loss goal - so I'm always looking for inspirational blogs to read). Yours is just that, I've bookmarked and will visit often. Have a great weekend.