It seems that movies and popcorn simply go together. It wasn’t always like this, though. In the 1920s, movie theaters were built to replicate the actual theaters, so the owners wanted nothing to do with popcorn.
They strived to create a first-rate atmosphere and believed that popcorn would ruin it – the popcorn’s messy nature was considered a threat to a theater’s carpets and furnishings. Besides, since it was sold from carts at street corners, popcorn was regarded as street food, simple and unsophisticated. In addition, popcorn snacking created the distracting noise that would ruin the movie.
When films added sound in 1927, the movie theaters attracted a much broader clientele. By 1930, attendance to movie theaters had grown to 80 million per week. And during the Great Depression, both movies and popcorn were luxuries that most people could afford. Street vendors saw their opportunity for profits of selling popcorn, so they brought their popping machines at the movie theaters’ doors and sold popcorns to moviegoers.
As a growing number of customers entered the theaters with popcorn bags and boxes, the owners allowed street vendors to sell popcorn in their lobbies for a daily fee. Soon enough, however, the theater owners decided to push the vendors out of business by installing popcorn machines and concession stands in their theaters. This transitioning to selling popcorn and other snacks helped many theaters survive the Depression.
During World War II, popcorn consumption skyrocketed after the sugar restricting had led to a lack of candy and soda. By the end of the war, more than half of the popcorn eaten in the US was consumed at the movies.
As its popularity grew, popcorn appeared in various sorts and with different toppings like butter, sugar, caramel, chocolate, cheese, and more, so gourmet popcorn was born.
And in the 1950s and ’60s, the boom of television brought popcorn into homes nationwide. Finally, in the 1980s, microwavable popcorn became available in the US marketplace. According to some surveys, we eat about 70 percent of popcorn at home Today.
Nevertheless, to the modern movie theaters, popcorn is just as profitable as it was in the past – it is estimated that the cinemas make about 85 percent profit of concession sales these days.