Why do people eat popcorn at the movies?

More than a century of tradition

If you have ever wondered when eating one of those portions of popcorn in the cinema what its origin is, well you have to go look for it in the USA, cradle of the seventh art and the place where the first measures were taken to turn everything that surrounds the cinema into a profitable business, both for those who make the films and for those who show them in their commercial theaters. But do you have any idea where that tradition comes from?

First of all, remember that The US is one of the largest corn producers in the world and, therefore, they have enough raw material to make popcorn that can be consumed in cinemas. The problem came in the early years, when the halls were dressed in elegant places and distinguished attendees, so eating there, seated, was practically ordinariness. So it was banned.

But the phenomenon began to explode in the street, with street stalls that were attached to the entrances to the rooms to sell viewers their rations before the movies started, so little by little that unmistakable aroma, and its affordable price, did the rest: popcorn became the main snack to eat while enjoying a good film.

And the business came

Now, is a street stall going to take the money that the same room where the film is shown could get? That was the moment when everything changed and the exhibitors understood that a good part of the proceeds was not so much in the sale of the ticket itself, but in everything that surrounds the typical paraphernalia of going to the movies. That is, the sale of popcorn and soft drinks, which represent an expense almost identical to that of going to see the movie.

Moreover, during World War II, the rationing of some foods did not affect corn, so the rooms continued to offer their popcorn, which was consumed with relish by citizens who came to the rooms to forget about the horrors of the conflict, which helped to further strengthen this custom that, over the years, ended making the leap to other countries of the world. Among them ours.

Popcorn TV

By the way, do you know why there are three sizes of popcorn servings to choose from? Initially only two were offered, the small and the large. The cinemas, which wanted to sell the most expensive, realized that almost everyone chose the cheapest portion, so to deceive us they added a third category between the two, the medium portion, with a price closer to the large portion than to the small one, in such a way that the customer’s perception changed (it is called the “decoy effect”) and that which originally seemed expensive began to be seen as something cheaper, so sales multiplied.

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