Healthy Movie Snacks? Pass the Grey Poupon

Michael Lynton was right — we want more and better food choices at theater concession stands

I’ll have a chicken wrap with a diet soda and a small, slim and light air-popped popcorn, please, and hold the butter.

Umm … and an apple and peanut butter for dessert while I watch a two-and-a-half hour long Sci-Fi flick … at my local theater!

That’s right folks. Dinner and a movie all in one place could be in our movie-watching future. (Okay, maybe not an entire meal, but I thought I throw that out there for your consideration)

If cinema concessions managers listen to the recommendation Sony Pictures' chief executive Michel Lynton recently presented to theater owners in Las Vegas, movie menus might start to include options for health-conscious moviegoers.

"Adding healthier options to your existing menu is the right thing to do for our industry, for audiences and for our country," Lynton said at ShoWest, the movie industry's annual convention.

It's about time, too.

News concerning obesity among children being the highest it has ever been along with childhood diabetes on the rise has been all over the press lately (not that it’s the movie industry’s fault, but hey, they could help!).

Sadly, theaters have been lagging behind fast-food chains on the healthier-choice-menus trend while families are their number one customers. If McDonald's can offer up salads and fruit cups along with Quarter Pounders, why can't theaters add granola bars and baked potato chips at concession stands?

The bigger question is, why has the change in movie fare taken so long?

You don't need an economics degree to understand the astronomical margins on candy and sodas are just too fat to trim down with costlier nutritious choices. Plus, having a captive audience with nowhere else to get their treats sure puts the cha in theater concessions chaching!

Many of us have muttered under our breath, or perhaps even out loud, that theater food leaves much to be desired. Also irksome for film enthusiast is the ban on introducing outside foodstuffs leaving us little choice but to consume the expensive movie-sized items — which we do.

Why?

Simply because food is associated with a good time; dates, parties, traditions, you name it, it revolves around a meal. Going to the movies has become quite an occasion for families these days. Heck, we handed over $52 for 4 3D tickets this past weekend, Slurpies and popcorn not included!

This definitely qualifies as a special night out in my (pocket) book.

Did you know theater chains in Mexico have been providing food choices for some time? The variety at VIP sections includes sushi, tacos and tortas as well as beer and wine brought to your seat by a server. 

Could these fancy movie-rations become a reality ?

Frankly, I agree with Mr. Lynton’s challenge; it’s about time we had a wider choice of food items to select from once we’ve paid the hefty price to get in the theater and sit there an average of two hours per movie.

Don't get rid of the old staples, popcorn is still the king of concessions. All we’re asking for is a choice in addition to the pricey junk food already available. Go ahead, make some room for pretzels and trail mix in the candy case next to the Jujubes and sour worms. How about some of those pre-packaged trays of pita, hummus and a veggie?

Spare me the psychobabble about how some people will  go for the buttered popcorn instead of bananas if given the choice, they probably don't get a Southwest salad at Mickey D's either. Leaving the unresolved aside, the rest of us would welcome the less artery-clogging stuff at the movies.

Alternatively, if the cost of offering healthier options is too much for movie chains, or there’s not enough space in the Dibbs fridge for frozen yogurt, then consider allowing us to bring in our own food items so we don’t feel like criminals sneaking in an orange, a sandwich or cheese and crackers.  I've smelled a burrito here and there, too.

Bold move, amigos!

In fact, while we’re at it, don’t make us sneak in a decent cup of hot chocolate or a no-foam skinny latte on a cold night either. (I know some theaters offer the warm beverages, especially in swanky areas, but they are not generally available)

I’ve been able to summon buckets of family-sized will power not to surrender to the hypnotic smell of buttery kernels or the beefy aroma of a hot dog, and sit through a 90 minute film without ingesting a single bite, only to bolt for dinner immediately after the last scene – forgoing reading the credits which is a real shame.

Offering better food at the movies could result in our willingness to hang out  just long enough after the movie is over to find out who designed the costumes or wrote the score – instead of hearing about them for the first and only time when they win an Oscar for their hard work.

*Whispering to the person in the seat behind you at the cinema*

Excuse me, could you please pass the Grey Poupon?