Horror Show: Movie Popcorn = 3 Burgers + 12 Pats of Butter
- Rawnak Hafsa
- Thursday, November 19th, 2009
The double-features of artery-clogging tubs of fatty-fried popcorn and sugary, super-sized drinks -- not to mention high-calorie candy -- is nothing short of a health hazard, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
It sent food from three national theater chains to a lab and found they may have to soon start installing extra-wide seats.
The worst offender, the study found, was Regal Cinemas, where a medium popcorn contains 1,200 calories oozing with coconut oil and saturated fat.
Getty Images adsonar_placementId=1482040;adsonar_pid=871774;adsonar_ps=-1;adsonar_zw=300;adsonar_zh=225;adsonar_jv='ads.adsonar.com'; The lab calorie counts were higher than claimed by Regal. The company said its medium popcorn has 720 calories.
"Oh, well. What's an extra 200 to 500 calories when your snack hovers around the 1,000 calorie mark? They don't call them tubs for nothing," the study said.
The analysis doesn't include the buttery-like soybean oil topping that packs on an additional 200 calories. A medium, 44-ounce soda at Regal includes 400 calories and 26 teaspoons of sugar.
A medium popcorn and soda pack on 1,610 calories. That's like eating six scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, four bacon strips and four sausage links.
"Suggestion: Move your cardiologist's phone number to your speed-dial before the lights go down," said Jayne Hurley, the group's senior nutritionist.
AMC, another chain with several theaters in the city, came in second. A large AMC popcorn weighs in at 1,030 calories and contains 33 grams of saturated fat.
The study also examined Cinemark, the nation's third-largest chain, which has no locations in New York. A large Cinemark popcorn contains 910 calories.
"I'll never eat popcorn in a movie theater again," said Palla Koutarelli, of Harlem, a designer who was at the Regal Union Square to see "Couples Retreat."
Stacy House, of Chelsea, who took her son and 14 of his friends to see "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," said, "The food here is gross and fattening.
"You get a stomachache after eating one of those giant tubs of popcorn. They could try to offer vegetables or cut-up fruit."
But Joseph Torda, 24, a Brooklyn debate coach who also saw "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," defended the offerings. "You know what you're getting into with theater food," he said. "I don't see vegetables gibing with the movie experience."
Theater owners -- who make a fat chunk of their profits off their snack bars -- defended their food.
"Theater popcorn and movie snacks are viewed as a treat, and not intended to be part of a regular diet," said Regal president Green Dunn.
How movie theaters' snacks stack up:
COMBOS (popcorn and soda)
* Regal: 1 large popcorn, 1 large soda: 1,700 calories
* AMC: 1 large popcorn, 1 large soda: 1,440 calories
* Cinemark: 1 large popcorn, 1 large soda: 1,320 calories
* Skittles Crazy Cores (7.2 oz): 830 calories, 156 grams sugar, 7 grams fat
* Raisinets (3.5 oz): 420 calories, 60 grams sugar, 11 grams fat
* Butterfinger minis (3.5 oz): 450 calories, 45 grams sugar, 10 grams fat
* M&M's plain (3.4 oz): 480 calories, 62 grams sugar, 11 grams fat
* M&M's Peanut (5.3 oz): 790 calories, 79 grams sugar, 16 grams fat:
* Reese's Pieces (8 oz): 1,160 calories, 122 grams sugar, 35 grams fat