Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Who Put Popcorn and Movies Together?

posted by Nell Minow

Smithsonian Magazine goes back 8000 years to find out why we eat popcorn at the movies.

Popcorn–a name mostly associated with puffed kernels of corn–is actually a strain of corn, characterized by especially starchy kernels with hard kernel walls, which help internal pressure build when placed over heat. It was one of the first variations of maize cultivated in Central America….After popcorn made its way to the eastern part of North America, it spread rapidly. Eaters found the act of popping corn wildly entertaining, and by 1848, popcorn, the snack food, was prevalent enough to be included in the Dictionary of Americanisms. Popcorn had literally exploded onto the scene and was available everywhere–especially at entertainment sites like circuses and fairs. In fact, there was really only one entertainment site where the snack was absent: the theaters.

Advertisement

In the early days, movie theaters were modeled after legitimate theaters and movie theater operators did not want popcorn, which was messy and associated with low-budget entertainment.  Surprisingly, it was the addition of sound to movies and the wider range of audiences that the talkies attracted that made theater operators turn to popcorn.

The Great Depression presented an excellent opportunity for both movies and popcorn. Looking for a cheap diversion, audiences flocked to the movies. And at 5 to 10 cents a bag, popcorn was a luxury that most people were able to afford. Popcorn kernels themselves were a cheap investment for purveyors, and a $10 bag could last for years. If those inside the theaters couldn’t see the financial lure of popcorn, enterprising street vendors didn’t miss a beat: they bought their own popping machines and sold popcorn outside the theaters to moviegoers before they entered the theater. As Smith explains, early movie theaters literally had signs hung outside their coatrooms, requesting that patrons check their popcorn with their coats. Popcorn, it seems, was the original clandestine movie snack.

Advertisement

This classic ad has even been included in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.  (You may have seen a recently updated version reminding you to turn off your phone.)

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

 

Previous Posts

What Screen Time Does to Developing Brains
As kids go back to school, it's a good time to establish some rules about screen time.  My recommended rules are below. This is increasingly ...

posted 3:55:33pm Sep. 02, 2015 | read full post »

In Theaters For One Night Only: How to Change the World
How to ...

posted 3:54:25pm Sep. 02, 2015 | read full post »

A Walk in the Woods
It isn't getting to that point where you most often see your friends at funerals. It isn't feeling stale because instead of promoting a new ...

posted 5:50:12pm Sep. 01, 2015 | read full post »

AJ Hakari, Mack Bates, Betty Jo Tucker and I Talk About the Fall Movies 2015
[iframe width="400" height="370" src="http://player.cinchcast.com/?platformId=1&assetType=single&assetId=7879147" frameborder="0"] ...

posted 5:09:27pm Sep. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Opening This Month: September 2015
Happy September! Fall is when we see fewer sequels, superheroes and shootouts, more dramas based on real stories or best-selling books. Here's what we have to look forward to this month: September 2 A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson's book ...

posted 3:24:52pm Sep. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.