There are some people who have to buy that delicious, golden bucket of popcorn each and every time they see a movie. Then, there are others who run from the 1,000-plus calories and gobs of saturated fat, opting to skip a snack entirely. Would you avoid these salty, fatty treats if the calorie content were staring you in the face at the concession stand? Cinema owners are worried you might and want to fight a proposed federal law that would require movie chains to post nutritional info for the prepared foods on their movie menu. The rule could be approved as early as Wednesday, according to the L.A. Times.
The FDA asked restaurant chains to post the nutritional content of their menu last year, and said they had every intention of doing the same to grocery stores and concession stands, particularly at movie theaters. That time has come, and members of the National Association of Theater Owners are peeved because they say it interferes with their business that has everything to do with what's on the screen and not in people's mouths. "We're not restaurants where people go to eat and satisfy themselves," said Gary Klein, the theater trade group's general counsel. "It's dinner and a movie, not dinner at a movie."
Several California and New York theaters already label their items, and some chains will start to add things like trail mix to their menu after groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest started testing theater treats. They found that a medium popcorn and soda from Regal Cinemas had 1,610 calories and 60 grams of fat. That's three day's worth of saturated fat, or the equivalent of eating three McDonald's Quarter Pounders, plus 12 pats of butter. Ick.
It's no wonder, really, why theater owners want to fight the new rule. Popcorn is a low-cost, big-revenue item for them, as David Ownby, chief financial officer of Regal Entertainment Group, recently confirmed. "We sell a bucket of popcorn for about $6. Our cost in that $6 bucket of popcorn is about 15 cents or 20 cents. So if that cost doubles, it doesn't really hurt me that much," he said.
It may not hurt theaters, but do you care about how much it's hurting you? Or do you turn the other cheek when it comes to snacks and flicks? It seems that many people order what they want regardless of calorie content, especially if they view a night at the movies as a special occasion -- thanks in part to bigger ticket prices and expensive concession items. What about places like the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, that offer an extensive menu, including soup and salad options with regular concession-stand foods? While they don't post nutritional content on their menu, would it sway your nachos vs. greens decision-making skills if they did? Discuss.