Forget Popcorn; Executive Demands Healthy Treats at Movie Theaters
By Amber James Posted Mar 17th 2010 09:51AM
L.A. Times reports. While there's nothing quite like a bag of popcorn smothered in butter, patrons watching their waistlines would finally have nutritious snacking options. While some movie theater managers are open to the option, patrons seem more upset about the change to an age-old tradition.
During the annual ShoWest movie industry convention, Lynton presented a poll of moviegoers commissioned by Sony Pictures, which revealed:
"I don't think giant tubs of spinach or broccoli's a good idea. And nobody wants to eat cauliflower while watching 'Spider-Man,' or drink a 40-ounce cup of prune juice," Lynton said.• two-thirds of moviegoers and three-quarters of parents are more likely to buy healthy snacks at theaters if they are offered;
• forty-two percent of parents said they would buy concessions more often if healthy options were available; and
• sixty percent of parents said having healthier snacks in theaters would enhance their overall movie-going experience.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest conducted a recent study and "found movie theater popcorn offerings range from 400 to 1,200 calories, with one to three days' worth of saturated fat and up to 1,500 milligrams of sodium. Make it a combo and add 300 to 1,110 empty calories worth of candy and another 150 to 500 calories from a sugary soft drink to wash it all down." Both Regal and AMC popped their popcorn in coconut oil, which contains 90% saturated fat, while Cinemark popped their popcorn in non-hydrogenated canola oil, which offers contained only a fraction of the saturated fat.
Cynthia Pasquella, a board certified clinical nutritionist and holistic life and wellness coach, says Americans are constantly looking for healthier food options, and entertainment venues should offer healthier treats. "We have to be really careful about moving away from the concept of popcorn, chocolate and sodas cold turkey. Not many people are going to order a side of broccoli or a salad as they head into the theater," she tells PopEater. "Most of us associate the theater experience with buttery popcorn and yummy snacks, so the trick is to make these foods available in a healthier format."
Pasquella offers up the idea of "air popped popcorn from non-genetically modified corn." But have no fear, chocolate lovers, there's a great alternative. "Dark chocolate that's high in cacao is delicious and packed with antioxidants but doesn't contain the same amount of sugar and harmful additives."
Cinema managers aren't weighing out the option -- especially if the demand is there. According to a TIME.com's Money Blog, movie theaters make 85% of their profit at the concession stands. According to the site, $30 worth of raw popcorn can translate into as much as $3,000 in sales at the movie theaters. "Whatever sells is worth bringing into the market," a Long Island Movieland Cinemas manager tells PopEater. "There are theaters already providing alternatives like air popped and unsalted popcorn or low fat butter... But it is all about demand."
PopEater readers were split about the new options and concerned about the concession stand cost. "At the prices they charge for crap food, I would hate to see what they would charge for a healthy snack. $50 organic apple, anyone?" Whitney Russell Odabashian wrote on PopEater's Facebook wall.
"I'd feel better about taking the kids to the movies with the healthier snack options," Pearl Ramirez wrote.
But others didn't want to give up the age-old tradition of letting loose and pouring on the extra butter. "The movies have been a place for kids and adults to go and enjoy a movie... enjoy a tub of buttered popcorn, a greasy hot dog, cheese fries, ice cream and all the gooey candies that one can carry to their seat," said Escabedo Carlos.
Pasquella challenges those opposed to not be afraid to experiment and remain open-minded. "I will often switch clients from their favorite foods to a healthier version, and they actually like the taste of the healthier version better ... As long as we don't try to drastically [alter] the theater experience and stick to offering healthier versions of the foods people are used to, there is a great chance they will choose the healthier options," Pasquella advises.
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