Buttery popcorn in several flavors including salted, sour cream, and cheese is a concession stand staple in movie chains, such as Reel Theatre, in contemporary times. But this wasn’t always the case since popcorn in any form was banned in movie theaters until it saved, so to speak, the struggling movie industry during the Great Depression.
When popcorn was introduced in North America particularly its eastern part, it rapidly spread to other parts. Its rapid growth in popularity among the general public was due to several factors, such as the entertaining value of munching on tasty corn using your hands, the mobile nature of its mass production, and the appealing aroma generated during the popping process, among others.
Popcorn was virtually everywhere in places where crowds gather – fairs, circuses, and boardwalks, among others. But it was explicitly and completely banned in movie theatres for several reasons, such as the desire of the owners to maintain a high-end clientele, prevent popcorn from dirtying up the luxurious interiors, and avoid the distractions that eating popcorn (i.e., noise from the crunchy texture) can make on the viewers.
The bottom line: Popcorn was too pedestrian for the gourmet tastes of the moviegoers then.
Point of Turnaround
But with the advent of movies with sounds, the owners of movie theatres became more open to the idea of popcorn as snacks – the sounds from the film muffled the sound of people munching on popcorn. Despite such a more open attitude, many owners were still hesitant about popcorn’s entry into their theatres.
The turnaround point came from a surprising source – the Great Depression. People wanted cheap diversions with movies and popcorn being one of the cheapest yet the most entertaining. Thus, the partnership between theatres and popcorn grew stronger with each year that passed so much so that, nowadays, watching a movie without the delicious pops is almost unimaginable.