December is upon us! This means its movie time; with blockbusters coming out Christmas Day and poignant dramas being released just in time for Oscar nominations. It’s one of the biggest money-making times of the year for the movie industry and for the concession stand as well. It’s practically a national pastime in December to go to the movies and settle in with soda and a big bag of delicious buttery popcorn.
But what exactly is all that popcorn-eating doing to us? What else are we consuming besides a bucket of salty, buttery goodness? According to a study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a lot. Â Depending on which theater we go to and the size of our popcorn, our small snack can end up adding 400 – 1,200 calories to our diet. And that’s not all; popcorn is also high in fat (the bad kind) and can add up to anywhere from one to three day’s worth of saturated fat in a single serving; not to mention an exorbitant amount of sodium.
According to CSPI, one large popcorn from AMC has approximately 1,030 calories and 57g of fat. Plus, it contains 1,5000mg of sodium, nearly your entire day’s worth of salt. A small popcorn clocks in at 664 calories and only 210mg of sodium.
Regal Entertainment Group’s popcorn is even worse calorie-wise, ranging from 720 to 1,200 calories per bucket.
Part of the reason movie theater popcorn is so bad for us is because most theaters pop popcorn in coconut oil, which contains 90% saturated fat. Cinemark theaters are the exception to this rule, popping their corn in canola oil, resulting in only 2g saturated fat in a small serving. Though in the calorie department, Regal’s numbers are still high, ranging from 420 to 910 calories per bag.
But it’s not just the popcorn that doing us in, toppings are killer too. Most theaters use a non-hydrogenated soybean oil to make butter that can add up to 130 calories per tablespoon.
Based on these astronomically high numbers, it would appear that our best bet this movie season is a small, unbuttered popcorn purchased with the intention of sharing with a friend. Or we can request concession staffers to pop us a batch without salt, a service AMC, Regal and Cinemark all claim to provide. Whatever you do, just don’t get the large.