The history of movie popcorn

Popcorn really took off in North America in the mid-1880s, but it would take 50 years for it to become a favorite food at movie theaters. According to Andrew Smith, author of Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn, "movie theaters wanted nothing to do with popcorn because they were trying to duplicate what was done in real theaters. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.” Then the Great Depression happened and movies took off as popular cheap entertainment. Popcorn vendors set up outside to provide an equally cheap snack. By the early 1930s, a Kansas City entrepreneur named Julia Braden convinced theaters to allow her to bring her popcorn kiosk into the theater. Of course, eventually the theaters established their own concession stands. This week, both Smithsonian and the New York Times looked at the history of movie popcorn.

"Why Do We Eat Popcorn at the Movies?" (Smithsonian)

Who Made Movie Popcorn? (NYT)

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  1. This reminds me of popcorn, and popcorn is the food of the gods. I don't give two blinks of a lizard's eye for opinions to the contrary. Lastly, to every popcorn slinger that took my garganto-tub and scooped up the unpopped dreck at the bottom of the machine--when the revolution comes, you're gonna be first in line for the axe.

  2. I was doing the same thing. I'm not old enough to have seen it when it was current, but when I was 16, me and my friend would sneak out and drive to the Franklin cinema to see the midnight show of Rocky Horror, where that promo was also shown at every show. there was participation to it, too.

  3. What I remember from college is that refreshments -- especially popcorn -- are how theaters make their profits. The cost of renting the film is so high, that even with high ticket prices, the theater might break even at best from actually showing movies.

  4. Is that the guard from Yes, Dear?

    I can't link to specific times (I need to fix that..) but try 1:28 to 2:42
    Now linked to the correct time.

  5. daneel says:

    I am really bummed out that the Egyptian closed in Seattle. That was an awesome cinema, not least because of the midnight cult film showings at the weekend. Their sister cinema, the Harvard Exit is great though.

    I also really liked the Electric Cinema in Birmingham when I lived back in the UK, first one I ever went to that allowed you to bring in drinks from the bar (I believe they sold Absinthe, too).

    Also props to the Living Room in Portland, another awesome little cinema.

    I appreciate good cinemas a lot after living in Savannah for 2 years. The options were pathetic and the patrons the rudest I have ever experienced (forget texting, I had one guy who got all angry when he was asked to stop taking calls during the film), and we had to go to either S Carolina or Florida to find somewhere showing anything vaguely out of the mainstream (including Moonrise Kingdom, for chrissakes!).

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