What’s Your Favorite Movie Theater Food?

Large popcornWhen you go to the movies what do you usually notice first?  After the cost of the ticket, it’s probably is the delicious smell of freshly popped (maybe) popcorn. It’s no accident that the concession stand with it’s popcorn popper and glass cases filled with the candy that reminds you that you were once a carefree kid — is right smack in the middle of the lobby.  It’s there to send your already conditioned eyes, nose, and salivary glands an urgent message:  “Buy some”!

I Don’t Care, I’m Going To Have It Anyway

Even if you make it through the lobby without buckets and boxes in hand, all you have to do is sit down in the theater with someone near you noisily munching away.  Up you go – back to the lobby and the concession stand.

It’s amazing what triggers us to eat. There’s a research study by the Cornell food lab that shows that people overeat when they have large portions — even when they don’t like the food. Moviegoers given stale popcorn in big buckets ate 34% more than people who were given the medium size of the same stale popcorn. People who had large buckets of fresh popcorn ate 45% more than people with the medium size.

If you’re going to eat it, do it mindfully.  Would a small size rather than jumbo do it for you?  How about a regular candy bar instead of a king size?  If the popcorn, pretzels, or nachos are  stale and nasty do you really want them?  Ditch the soda for plain old water or a sugar free drink. You could bring some healthy snacks with you — like a lower calorie protein bar or trail mix (a crunchy apple doesn’t lend itself to quiet eating).

FYI:  Some Popular Movie Theater Snacks – And Their Calorie Counts

(Note the serving sizes, movie theater boxes of candy are often huge and may be double or triple the size shown below and what’s a large popcorn in one theater chain might be a medium in another. The number of cups of popcorn sounds craze – but that’s how much is in the bucket or bag that’s commonly available.)

Popcorn, Nachos, Soft Pretzel

  • Buttered popcorn, small, 5 cups:  470 calories, 35g fat
  • Buttered popcorn, large, 20 cups:  1640 calories, 126g fat
  • Cheese nachos, large (4 oz):  1100 calories, 60g fat
  • Soft pretzel, large (5 oz):  480 calories, 5g fat

Soda and Lemonade

  • Coke, small (18 oz:218 calories, 0g fat
  • Coke, large (44 oz):  534 calories, 0g fat
  • Minute Maid Lemonade (18 oz):  248 calories, 0g fat
  • Minute Maid Lemonade (44 oz):  605 calories, 0g fat


  • Junior Mints, 3 oz box:  360 calories, 7g fat
  • Sno Caps, 3.1 oz box:  300 calories, 15g fat
  • Milk Duds, 3oz box:  370 calories, 12g fat
  • Raisinets, 3.5 oz bag:  400 calories, 16g fat
  • Goobers, 3.5 oz box:  500 calories, 35g fat
  • Twizzlers, 6 oz bag:  570 calories, 4g fat
  • M&Ms, 5.3 oz bag:  750 calories, 32g fat
  • Peanut M&Ms, 5.3 oz bag:  790 calories, 40g fat
  • Reese’s Pieces, 8oz bag:  1160 calories, 60g fat

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