. . . paved with Twizzlers

I’m afraid I need to interrupt Love Thursday to bring you a much more pressing matter. (Pssst! Do not fret! I am likely to give you Love Friday, instead.)

Otto and I are having a small disagreement. I would like some input on our dilemma, and to make it fair I won’t even tell you which side of the argument each of us is on. It will be TOTALLY BLIND, because there’s NO WAY you’ll be able to suss out who is who. What? Oh, look over there! Something SHINY!

This is a matter of great importance—I mean, it must be, as it represents the first real argument of our nearly-year of marriage—and since both of us have extremely hard heads and each believe our own personal positions to be correct, I just feel like it’s imperative that we open this up to the floor.

After all, if you can’t use your readers as your moral compass (provided that they say what you want them to), WHAT IS THE POINT OF SOCIETY?

Right, then. Please put on your impartial thinking caps. (You’ll know they’re impartial, because they… ummm… don’t have any… parts.)

The Situation: Tomorrow afternoon we shall celebrate the arrival at double digits of a certain young lady by taking her and a gaggle of her friends to the movies. As befits a crowd of such advanced age, we will allow them to SIT IN A DIFFERENT ROW, because they’re so grown-up and all. (They will also be receiving a lecture on Proper Movie Theater Etiquette, for which I have already received a gigantic eyeroll and a huffy, “Mom! We’re TEN! We KNOW!”)

The Question: The movie theater has a rule that you are not to bring outside food inside.

The Ethically-Guided Position: One of us holds that the rules are the rules and not only should not be broken, but in fact should ABSOLUTELY not be broken when chaperoning children who have been entrusted to our care by others. This person believes that if we want to allow the children snacks, we should purchase them at the movie theater, end of discussion. Furthermore, this person holds that bringing outside food in is not just a violation of the rules, but actually STEALING—revenue is being “stolen” from the establishment if we do this.

The Reality-Guided Position: One of us is willing to cop to being a rule-breaker, but thinks that calling it stealing is A BIT MUCH, particularly as—surprise!!—the person who wants to bring food in would NEVER pay what the theater charges for refreshments, so there is no lost revenue. This person maintains that not only is movie food overpriced, and not only will we have already given the theater many many dollars for all the tickets, but—even if we were willing to pay those prices—with a gaggle of children in various stages of orthodontia, there is precious little available there which they can actually eat (popcorn and sticky candies are no-nos). This person wants to fetch some appropriate candy from the Dollar Store and bring it with us. This person is, furthermore, willing to include a pair of plastic handcuffs in each goody bag to fully own the lawlessness of the situation, if that would make the other person feel more comfortable.

We are at something of an impasse, and while I couldn’t be prouder that our First Marital Argument centers on such an important issue, I feel like as long as we’re having such a stupid debate, we should include others. I know Otto is going to be DELIGHTED that I’ve shared, too.

Please discuss. Feel free to address whether or not you would post bail in this scenario, too, should one of us be carted off to the Bighouse.


  1. Sharlene

    I’m with the law follower! Weather you agree with the robbery that happens at the concession stand or not, you have to consider the message that you are sending to the children. You must follow the rules (except here). You can’t just do whatever you want (except here). Suck it up and pay the big bucks, it is just this once!

  2. transplanting me

    i’m just gonna say it – a rule is a rule. and as much as i agree with the price gouging being awful and all, you can’t go breaking the rules. thankfully, our local theater has no such rule. it makes it much easier for me to say i would never break such a rule.

    i can’t imagine a better afternoon than one spent at the movies with a gaggle of tweens where i get to spend the equivalent of one – or possibly more – house payment/s.

  3. Amy

    I’m with Otto…buy the food from the concession stand and get over it! :-)

    We too, have spent an arm and a leg the past two birthdays for stepson as he has had movie theatre parties. We buy each child, usually 10-12 in attendance, a ‘kid’s pack’ which includes a small drink, a small amount of popcorn and some sort of candy. It runs us $5.00 a kid plus the $5.00 per kid for the movie ticket. We consider it the cost of having a child…who is a HUGE movie buff!

    My two cents!

  4. Heather

    I am with the Reality-Guided position. I do not agree with bringing pop in the theater (ya know, because of the pssccctt when it is opened), but I feel a couple of “movie” boxes of candy from the dollar store are totally okay!! Can you tell I may have done this before? I say take the candy – have the kids go pick the seats with the “non rule breaker” adult and when the other adult arrives – they will be none the wiser you did not buy from the concession stand and then you will save money on the handcuffs also!! Have fun!

  5. Tink

    Yes it is, isn’t it? (The road to… well, you know where.) I, for one, would buy the candy, help eat the candy, help Otto feel less guilty about eating some (his being the party of the first part and all), and, if necessary, bail out anyone I know needing such service who is attending said movie party. And you know everyone who is anyone will be there. Hehe. Twizzlers. Yum.

  6. Karen

    Inject (I mean, feed) the kids their sugar before the movie!! Besides, having food at the theater is just setting them up for a lifetime Pavlovian response that movies = snacks (calories)!!!

  7. Ks Grandma

    I have to go with the ethically guided position. Otherwise you are really opening yourself up to a certain 10 year old and her brother taking it upon themselves to personally decide which rules are really rules and which rules just beg to be circumvented. It’s like when that pick-up truck came down the hill one day and stopped on the bridge. We heard voices, including children’s voices. We heard splashes. We heard the truck roar off. When we went to the bridge there was a truck load of tires that had been dumped into the creek. To this day I still absolutely shake with the anger. The tire dumping? Awful. But bringing children with you? Absolutely no way, unfathomably unacceptable. If a 10 year old cannot delay gratification for 2 hours to get to the cake, well then, forget the movie. None of you are ready. (Wow! a moral high horse! Are you sorry you asked? Because I really enjoyed my moment on the soapbox.)

  8. daisy

    Yeah…I have to say it’s wrong. This is because I was raised by a small business owner (cafe) who would get livid when people would take extra packets of sugar, etc for their purse.

    I do agree, however, that movie theatre tickets are outrageous (this is why I don’t go to the movies anymore) but you aren’t sending the correct message by breaking the rules. I always told my daughter if you don’t like the rules (laws) then fight to change them, but don’t break them.

    (Sorry…that’s my mother talking thru me)

  9. BethR

    I will admit to having brought my own candy before, but I’d be reluctant to do it in front of my child, because he’s got a junior law degree and would totally use it against me the next time I said, “Rules are rules.” I vote to buy legit candy – one such extravagance will not break the bank.

  10. Kelly

    If it were an ordinary trip to the theatre, I would totally agree on sneaking in some snacks. However, being a bit paranoid, I would be afraid of getting cought and ruining a party.

  11. tiffany

    here’s my take…..i take in things for my kids to eat and then i also buy a small popcorn to share(omg movie popcorn is the best!) so I would just make sure to buy the same candy that the theatre sells at dollar store and take it in, have the kids and the one that doesnt agree with it sit down first the other bring it in a few minutes behind and then the kids dont know that it wasnt purchased there so they dont know about the rule breaking..
    Good luck and let us know what the decision is!

  12. Sharon

    Bring the dollar store candy, some water bottles and take your chances. Use the concession stand money you saved for bail.

  13. Zuska

    I have to say I’m with Otto on this one. Bif you win, I’d play it the way Heather suggested – or some other interesting sleight of hand/wedding feast at Canaan type of trick (you know, buy one box of movie theatre M&Ms, but have a jumbo sack of economy-priced M&Ms in your handbag. Then magically fill up 12 Dixie cups with just that one movie theatre box).

  14. Zuska

    “Bif you win” is actually “But if you win” – grr….

  15. Patricia

    I have to side with the person who believes that it’s okay to bring some outside snacks. I am not talking about popping your own corn at home and bringing it in zip lock bags. But making goodie bags for a young lady’s birthday party is a good cause in my book. I have lived in a major metro area for a long time and have witnessed full thai food dinners in theaters, mom’s handing out organic vegan snacks to a group of kids and several couples breaking out wine glasses and wine. As long as no one sits near me with anything that either smells too good or too awful, I could care less.

  16. Katie

    I used to be a “movie theatre law breaker” (in college) but since having kids, I don’t sneak candy in anymore because of the ethical issue (and my kids want popcorn, not candy).

    However I think it’s fair to bring in items that they don’t sell like if the kids can’t have candy, it’s reasonable to bring apple slices. Or a Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Mocha. *looks innocent*

  17. Jenny

    Hmmmm. OK, I’m not a parent. And I’ve been known to sneak some outside food into a movie theater. (Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets and waffle fries are a tasty, tasty movie snack.) BUT, I’m an adult and capable of making my own decisions, and blah blah blah, and I would feel pretty funny about breaking the rule, if only because I would feel it was setting a bad example for the kids. If it were me, I’d remind the kids of the no sticky candy and popcorn rule, chalk up the expense to the cost of Going To A Movie, and get them each a King Sized Kit Kat and a soda. Let ’em break the rules on their own when they’re older. Besides, breaking the rules is a lot more fun when it isn’t sanctioned by your parents. Then it’s just boring.

  18. Charise

    I would normally say go for it, as I am cheap and sneak in my own snacks on the rare occasion I still go to the theater. However, when I take my little sister (I’m a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor) to the movies, I buy us a snack there. I am supposed to be a role model for her and don’t want to guiltily explain why I think it’s OK to break that rule. So I would agree with Karen – feed them beforehand, and have cake too!

  19. Jen

    Weeeelll, I think I’m on the fence here. You have some kids that CAN’T eat the movie theater stuff, so what are they to do? I think you need to compromise and have some stuff from concessions and then for those who can’t have some things for them from outside. If a child has an allergy or some special need and the establishment is not providing things for that child, then what are you to do? But otherwise, yeah, that’s a bad example to set for the kiddos, sorry!

  20. jp

    OK, I will admit to sneaking beer into a movie theater ONCE!

    However I am not a person who tries to skirt the rules all the time. Yes, some rules are stupid, so if you don’t like them or don’t want to follow them, go someplace else.
    Don’t you have rules at home that you like to have followed? And yes some rules are made to be broken, but really Mir, pick your battles! you could have rented movies, bought dollar store treats and pizza and problably invited 10 more kids and had them all wrecking your house if you really wanted to do the party on a budget.

    You do get points though for worring about the other kids orthodontia!

  21. Lauren

    As someone who has snuck in a Cinnabon in all its 25473 calorie-goodness (mmmmm am now very hungry), I am not necessarily morally opposed to sneaking in outside food. However, I have to agree with Party A that doing it in front of the children (especially other people’s children) might not be the best course of action. I would just suck it up, cry as the money flies out of my wallet at the concession stan, and buy the food there. A rule is a rule and all that jazz. Although, the “magically multiplying M&M” theory from above is quite the awesome idea…

  22. Leandra

    If it was just your kids I’d say go for the Dollar Store candy. BUT since there will be other kids in attendance, I say buy the movie theater stuff. You don’t want to get in trouble for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. ;)

    One of the biggest arguments my husband and I have ever had was over the words to “The Witch Doctor Song.” Is it “ting tang wolla wolla bing bang” or “ping pang wolla wolla bing bang.” We still argue to this day because we have found no definitive answer.

  23. Jean

    Yeah, I’m with the ethical guide on this too. If it’s your own kids, then it’s a different story. BUt for this, I think you’re gonna have to spend the big dollars. I do feel for you…I took my 4 year old to the movies for the first time a few weeks ago and it cost us $25 after tickets/snacks. It hurt.

  24. Jen

    Leandra – it’s “Ting-Tang walla walla bing bang” ;)

    and i’m a sneak-candy-in kinda lady — but why not skip the candy all together & bring in apple slices like someone suggested? it’s crunchy, sweet, and healthy! and they don’t sell apple slices at the theater concessions stands (at least the ones i’ve been to!)


    good luck!

  25. sassymonkey

    My two non-parenting cents – most of the time I’m with the sneaking of snacks in (although to be fair, I don’t know that any of my theatres have a “rule” against that…). But there are times when it’s appropriate to splurge and I think a double digit birthday with all her friends justifies a splurge.

    And as far as “stealing”…if you ask me charging $5 for $0.30 worth of popcorn is highway robbery.

  26. Tink

    Zuska: {Bif = But if} makes great sense to me. You may just have started a new internetism. (That last one is mine.) LOL

  27. Deborah P

    Follow the rules for all the reasons the above commenters said much better than I could. BUT, there really is no rule that says you have to have snacks in the movie theater, so you could fill them up beforehand and promise ice cream afterward.

  28. Linda

    Hmmm, wonder who is on what side? On that note, totally take stuff in. I have to when I take my daughter, she doesn’t eat anything that they sell if you can believe it. But then again I buy enough for myself and my husband to make up for it.

    Did you check with the movie theatre about discounts for groups? They sometimes have a flat price for a certain number of people that includes snacks.

  29. Sophia

    I guess I’m in the minority here but I’ll admit to my law-breaking.

    I totally bring in my own candy and water. I do, however, purchase popcorn and soda from the theater if I decide I want those items (I usually don’t).

    While I understand the whole “rules are rules” attitude, especially when kids are around, I think it teaches a good lesson in using judgement.

    Besides – do the kids even KNOW there is a “no outside food allowed” rule?

    Good luck, Mir. Let us know how this works out for ya, mmkay?

  30. Leanne

    Lump me in with the rule-followers. You’re setting an example to those 10 year olds. You want to teach them it’s okay to break the rules if they disagree with them – you’re going to pay for that when they’re 13.


  31. steve

    We never liked going to the movies with Otto when we were kids, either :p

    Buy all the kids diabetic, sugar free candy and bring 100% juice juice boxes.

    If the theater complains (i.e. you get busted) tell them that you’d have been happy to purchase sugar-free, healthy snacks for your party, but didn’t see any at the concession stand. Since they limit your alternatives to high satfatsugarfructoseygreasey items, it was necessary for you to bring your own, healthier alternatives.

    Then you don’t have to get price-gouged by the theatre, the kidlets are not wired on sugar, parents will thank you for not sending them home wired, Otto can come down from his high horse (and with the money you save he can buy a new lens cover or i-thing or Macgadget), and maybe, just maybe, the movie theater will expand their snack options to include something better than their standard crap.

    Now I’ll get off my high horse and get to work…

  32. Tink

    Definitely “Tink tang walla walla bing bang.” Erm… make that “Ting tang walla walla bing bang.” Although the former makes a lot more sense (and sounds sweeter) than the latter, doncha think?

  33. pam

    I don’t think it’s ‘stealing’. I also think you shouldn’t bring food in with you. You’re guiding young ones to being responsible, rule abiding, moral citizens. You can’t veer from that just because it’s cheaper. And even if it were just your own kids I don’t think it would be ok. How can it be ok to break this rule but not ok to break yours?

  34. Heidi D

    As a former movie theater employee, I had no problem with people bringing in a SMALL amount of candy, if it was something we didn’t carry. But I always had to confiscate (sp?) alcohol, large bags of popcorn, and 2 liter bottles of soda.
    And yes, there are times I bring in my own candy because they don’t carry what I like… BUT we do buy their popcorn and soda.

    So I say yes; bring your own candy but then get your soda at the theater concession stand.

  35. Brandi

    Who hasn’t brought in candy from the outside world? Seriously?

    And, if it’d make Otto (I MEAN THE ONE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO BREAK THE RULES) happy, maybe you could buy a drink or something there? But, really, bring the twizzlers in! That’s why women (I MEAN THE ONE WHO WANTS TO BREAK RULES) have purses, isn’t it? ;)

  36. Liz

    Eh, for the sake of the kids, I’d say buy it there.

    But when they’re older, you can be like my dad and stepmom. They go to the movies a lot together these days, and have confessed to sneaking in a tupperware or water bottle with alcohol, so they can turn their movie theater coke into a rum & coke, or the like. Like friggin teenagers… :-)

  37. Jess

    As the daughter of a candy salesman, we always dug in dad’s trunk before going into the theater…and then stuffed everything inside dad’s big pockets. No one’s going to question a 6’3 dad wearing a winter coat in july…stuffed with crinkly bags of starburst.

    Anyhoo, all this to say – I was raised in lawless abandon and now pay for popcorn, soda AND milk duds in the theater.

    It’s okay – whatever you do.

  38. diane

    Hee – do as I say not as I do. I wouldn’t dare make my (my age) friends toe the line, but you are setting an example for the younger crowd. Follow the rules. Feel free to explain to them that the movie theater prices on food and drink are highway robbery (hey! an economics lesson, too!) and you refuse to pay them on principle. That way, they view you not as the monster who won’t let them have snacks during the movie, but as an upholder of freedom and the American right to not pay an arm and a leg.

    As others have said, make it up to the kids by allowing them to pig out on candy at home (after the movie).

  39. AmeliaB

    I wouldn’t break the rules. I especially would not break them with other people’s children. That really is the wrong message. Don’t buy the movie food if you don’t want to, and give the goody bags afterward. I do understand now wanting to pay those prices for a large group.

  40. All Adither

    Gosh, I wonder which side you’re on…the side of the extremely long paragraph perhaps?

    I say just take in the food. The theater is robbing YOU by holding you captive and charging so much. Besides, life is gray, gray and grayer. Chickadee might as well learn that now.

    I kinda love that Otto is such a rule follower though.

  41. Sara

    The kidlets must be guided toward following the rules or anarchy will reign. Plus, I can feel my cheeks burning from the embarassment of getting caught. Sadly, I am a rule-follower, not because it is the right thing to do, but because I HATE getting caught. I guess I rank pretty low on Kohlberg’s scale of moral development!

  42. Summer

    I’d sneak the candy in. The amount you’d drop on Milk Duds alone would fund a pair of well-price-matched shoes. Priorities!

  43. tori

    I can’t participate in this discussion very well because I have never bought my kids (or their friends) anything at the movie theater. I personally dislike going to movies so I almost always make my husband take whoever wants to go, and don’t like eating while watching movies because it takes away my focus. I can’t see spending the crazy amounts of money to buy their snacks, but I also probably wouldn’t bring in my own because it sort of shows that some rules are ok to break. I think my husband probably buys the kids stuff when he takes them, but it is sort of our own don’t ask don’t tell kind of thing. If I take the kids, they do not ask for anything because they know the answer would be no. But at a birthday party? Maybe.

    Gosh, I sound like tons of fun after reading back what I wrote. I swear I am not a huge stick in the mud, movies are just not really my thing. I can’t wait to read what you decide (although if one person has a moral issue with something and one person just is on the cheaper side, in our house we usually go with the opinion of the person who feels something is “wrong”)

  44. Justine

    Rules…. are meant to be broken if they are used for extortion. Bring the snacks with you!

  45. Teri

    Screw the overpriced movie theater! Take them to a movie rental store, let them pick out two or three movies and watch them at home, in the dark, with all the appropriate snacks they can eat.

  46. Lisa

    While movie theater prices are outrageous, you are the adult setting the example for not only your children, but other people’s children as well. I don’t really care about the movie theater losing revenue or even breaking the rules so much, but if I sent my child with another mother, I would expect the other mother to abide by the rules no matter how stupid. It is the principle of the matter: you would be telling not only your own children, but other’s children, it is ok to break rules you don’t like. It is a bad example and precedent. Things like this that seem benign often come back and bite you in the ass in an unexpected way!

  47. Bronie

    lots of theatres have birthday packages that include something like hotdogs, popcorn and drinks for a flat rate and then you could just have your sweets later.

    that being said, i think i like steve’s comment better. :)

  48. AmyM

    I definitely wouldn’t call it ‘stealing’, as that seems a little over the top. But I also wouldn’t smuggle in contraband. Especially not with my kids. We’ve tried to teach them that you should respect the rules that other people put in place, even though they may seem stupid. (And of course, there are a exceptions to this, like if the ‘rule’ could cause them harm.)

  49. Jenni

    I’d call the theater and double-check their rule. I always thought that it was against the rule to bring outside food in then I was behind some people openly carrying a bag of Burger King and the ticket taker didn’t say anything about it. So if you haven’t checked with the theater for their real official rule on it, I would do that first. If it really is the rule, then I would probably just go with it and follow the rule (since there are other children there). If you do call the theater you may want to explain the situation and see if they have any special deals on concessions when you have a birthday party.

  50. Jennifer

    AAAAARGH!! My husband and I have the SAME ARGUMENT every time we go to the movies.

    I say take snacks with you. Screw those price gouging movie theater executive types.

    We have a compromise situation at my house. I smuggle snacks in my purse and he buys $5 drinks. Makes everyone feel better.

  51. Mama Bear

    Because you are bringing a gaggle of girls with you who are not part of your family, and because you are all about setting a good example~ahem~ following the rules is the best bet. Just limit what they can get from the theater refreshment money grubbers: one small soda and one small bag of popcorn.If there are no other options, and everyone gets the same thing, who can complain? (Too loudly anyway) Really, most movies last only 1.5 hours now, so that should easily get them through that time frame, right? Oh, and a roll of lifesavers in your pocket for the few moments they are begging for candy, too.

  52. Melisa

    When my daughter was young, I used to carry a backpack instead of a diaper bag and purse. I once had the backpack SEARCHED for illicit snacks when entering our local chain of theaters. It was slightly humiliating since there were ALWAYS snacks in the backpack. I didn’t carry it exclusively for snack-sneaking, but I was found guilty nonetheless. Can you believe they actually confiscated the offending items? True story.

  53. rain

    I have nothing against bringing your own food in. I dont normally do it, but I usually only take one kid at a time to the theater so its not that big of a deal. But with the ticket prices now, its INSANE expensive when you have a group. Soooooo, here is what I would do. If you are going to buy candy, get it at the Dollar Store. Buy the drinks at the theater.

    Personally, I would use the concession stand and go for one big soft pretzel and a drink for each kid and call it a day. I think those are ok braces? Better than popcorn or sticky candy…and this way everybody gets the same thing and no arguments. I would skip the candy altogether.

  54. RuthWells

    It pains me to say it (being a dyed-in-the-wool cheapskate and all), but buy the crap treats at the theatre. Maybe give each kid a financial limit, or restrict their choices in some way, so as to avoid taking out a mortgage on the house.

  55. Burgh Baby's Mom

    Call the theatre. If you talk to the manager, you might be able to come up with a sort of compromise that results in them making a buck or two AND you saving a buck or two. You need to play up the orthodontia bit. That’s key.

    See you at the dollar store, Mir!

  56. rain

    FOR braces, is what I mean. Gah.

  57. SoMo

    Are you sure there is a no outside food policy? Is it posted? Has food been confiscated, before?

    Here is my story: I always had the UNDERSTANDING that you couldn’t bring your own food and drink to the movies. At a young age, we even had it taken away from us when we were found out.

    Then a friend informed me, by way of his movie theater manager friend, that this was not true with our present movie theater establishments. Now, we brazenly walk in with my half price (based on what they charge at the movie theater) Icees and dollar store candy. I don’t think it hurts them one bit.

    If this is not the case, I can’t help you. I see both points, but mostly agree with the Reality Guided opinion. Sorry, Otto, but paying the equivalent of a mortgage payment for snacks is too much for me too handle. You could always do what my husband thinks is hilarious, even though he has done it about a million times, ask the nice teenager behind the snack counter for a loan application. They will look at you like a deer in headlights and then mess up your order. Fun times all around.

  58. Ei

    I don’t have anything clever to write so I feel bad responding. Your commenters are a tough crowd, you know?

    But you asked so I’ll respond. If it were JUST my kids, I’d sneak it in, but I wouldn’t want other parents mad at me for setting an example like that without their input. That’s just me. I’d just limit them all to the basic popcorn and small drink or whatever and have cake at home after. Or something.

  59. kris

    I was raised by folks who believed movie theatre concessions were an unnecessary extravagance, and I think I turned out alright.
    The kids are going to be so spazzed out (because they are TOGETHER! and TEN! and at the MOVIES!) they won’t even notice where the snacks come from.

  60. Shalet

    If you bring what they don’t sell then how is it stealing? If your movie theater has a particularly health-minded section geared towards ten-year-old with braces then, by all means, partake. However, if said movie theater does not have said section – bring your own!

  61. DR

    Besides being a role model for the kids, can you just imagine how “mortified” your daughter is going to be? If you should choose to bring your own, be sure to totally warn her first!

    Have you considered calling the manager and explaining the birthday party/braces dilemna and suggesting a solution? They may actually be willing to have you carry stuff in their containers, etc. so that the general audience will not know what you’re doing. You may get an outright permission since it’s a birthday and you are ASKING. Stranger things have happened!

    Children model what they see whether that be good or bad. Fast forward to the teen years…why follow the speed limit? It’s just a rule and besides who will know in the dark of the night?

    Not envying this debate. However, if you call then you would have at least attempted to change the system. More than likely the kids would agree to forego that waste of money for a donation to an animal shelter, etc. and then have cake later. Why not give them the choice?

    I have never been disappointed by an outcome when I gave a group of children choices!

  62. Dani

    I say you can “supplement” the snacks with your own without the kids having a clue. You ARE spending money there, but you don’t need to take out a home equity loan to cover the cost of Twizzlers. No harm, no foul.

  63. Nearly Nickless

    Otto went to the movies as a child? I don’t recall the local theater at the KMart showing many foreign films with deep meaning and artsy sets.

    I however, can share the story of the only time my two best friends (even still) met my dad. He busted us walking out of seeing RED DAWN (PG 13) when we were 11. So not cool….

  64. Kristi

    Personally, I think Monkey and Chickadee are old enough for you to have a thoughtful discussion with them about the pros and cons of bringing in candy and this is a great opportunity for a lesson about what constitutes rule breaking vs. making good choices in life. Does paying $5 for a box of Milk Duds at the movies constitute a good choice when the same box will cost $1.25 at the supermarket? Why does the movie theatre charge so much anyway? Talk to them about what a monopoly is and WHY the movie theatre might have that rule to begin with. Make them smart consumers and teach them that the entire world is full of shades of grey. They are old enough to know that things are not always black and white.

    And then take in your own candy.

  65. Ani

    My $0.02…

    For everyday, family-going-to-the-movies…heck yeah bring the candy from somewhere else. We actually used to bring in dried apples and other fruit. Before our kids wised up to our Amish ways and discovered CANDY! CANDY! Darn that preschool crowd.

    For a birthday party…consider it part of the treat and get them at the concession stand. But then they don’t get the big ice cream sundae treat after the movie. (What? Isn’t that part of the movie experience???)

  66. alice

    Okay, I can’t make it all the way through! From scanning the comments, I think that Steve’s idea is a good one – bring non-theater snacks, and that solves most of the problem. Have enough crappy food at earlier/later party venues so that the kids don’t feel that they’ve been overhealthied, and you’re good.

    I have to admit that I grew up in a house where we were encouraged to question rules (Question Authority was a big bumper sticker dad put on the fridge), and getting practice in figuring out what rules were worth following and what rules were worth breaking was a great lesson to learn growing up. Sneaking in snacks does encourage this kind of questioning, but I don’t think that that’s necc. a bad thing.

  67. Chris

    I say bring your own stuff. Cry allergies and braces if you get caught. My goodness it isn’t like you are trying to sneak all the kids in. I would just make sure the kids weren’t looking. teehee…….;) Good Luck!

  68. alice

    and a ps – if you speed with your kids in the car, you’ve already demonstrated that some laws/rules are to be treated with discretion.

  69. Lori

    I would not take anything in from the outside. I agree with the Ethically Guided Position. Plus — it is a big birthday, turning 10 and you will be oh-so-cool with buying them all a drink and some little item. You can certainly limit them to a small drink and the lower priced candies.

  70. Megan

    Um, my mom taught me by the time I was 10 to sneak food and drink into the theater. I still do it, even after I worked in a movie theater for 2 years.

    The prices are way inflated because the theaters source of revenue is the concession stand- ticket sales mostly go to the movie companies.

    I do not feel that anyone should have to take out a second of third home mortgage in order to enjoy a small box of junior mints and a small soda.

  71. chris

    I say you make the kids eat their candy in the car before you go in.

    Personally I always bring candy in. I am a criminal like that.

  72. Yan

    I have looked past the aspect of how it would look to your children and your children’s friends. But I do not believe in breaking rules in someone’s private establishment. If you are againt paying the high prices there you are fully within your right not to patronize their service. But breaking their rules on their property is not one of the rights that you have.

  73. Kate

    I bring in a small package of M&Ms (or the candy bar of choice for each kid) in my ginormous purse, and buy popcorn/drinks there. My husband is like Otto, but (especially if you are chaperoning other kids), I would follow the rules.

  74. PandaWriter

    Movies used to spend a longer time in the theaters, and how much of the box office the actual theaters got to keep went up the longer the movie played (obviously, the studios assumed that most people go to see a movie when it first comes out, so they get a higher percentage of the tickets early on). Now, maybe they’re out for six weeks. Anyway, the money from the box office mostly goes to the studios / distribution companies. The theater’s income isn’t from the tickets, but almost completely from the food. Hence the high prices.

    Which is why theaters don’t much like the big openings for 3 hour epics (LOTR, anyone?). It cuts out two showings a day, compared to hour + movies, so that many fewer individuals are driven past the candy counter. And all those extra rear ends in seats don’t mean much for their overhead, unless they’re eating.

    So the question then becomes, does the theater “deserve” some income for providing you with such a nice place to watch Rambo 23?

    And BTW, $20 for a vat of popcorn and two watery drinks makes my head spin.

  75. MomCat

    I *love* the loaves and fishes idea. The kids won’t realize the movie theater M&Ms ran out a long time ago, and that you have a gigantic, dollar-store bag of M&Ms. Just make sure you cut them open and put them in a zip lock bag before you leave the house. Then nonchalantly reach in and refill those dixie cups.

    Guess I’m sort of a ‘letter of the rules’ rather than ‘spirit of the rules’ sort of person. Chaotic neutral.

  76. Aimee

    Honestly, I always thought sneaking food into the movies was kind of a fun little rebellion. My mom always brought food for us, but we never thought that meant it was okay for us to break other rules. Since you have other people’s kids with you, I think Tiffany’s suggestion above is a nice compromise.

    I have this book called “A Year At The Movies.” The author went to the movies every day for a year, at all different kinds of theaters. My favorite part of the book is the Thanksgiving movie, where the author takes his nephew and daughter to see “Monsters Inc.” They snuck an entire Thanksgiving dinner into the movie by packing it in Tupperware and sewing extra pockets into the lining of his trench coat. The manager saw them, but just gave them a smile.

  77. saucygrrl

    Ok, this is were I just stand up and say: One medium size bag of popcorn and one bag of m&ms cost us $10.75 at the movies last week. Let me repeat: $10.75. And if you guessed that the popcorn was what cost $7 then you’d be correct. The markup is criminal.

    There’s a really great episode of the Simpsons that addresses this, some rules (despite being law) are plain ridiculous. Does it blur the lines, absolutely. But this is you bringing in a little outside something, you’re not shoplifting it from the concession stand and you’re not sneaking entire children into the movie theatre in your trench coat.

    If it really is a big source of contention, bring something that the snack bar doesn’t sell like Hershey kisses.

    Hell, my parents would actually sneak us and our friends into the movies and none of us went on to lead a life of crime. Although, I do continue to bring a nice toasted bagel and a can of seltzer into the movies with me.

  78. Mom24

    I often take our own candy, frequently bring juice boxes or water for my kids. I do not believe it is stealing, and I think the theater asks for it by charging $3.50 for the exact same bottle of water that I can bring for 50 cents. We usually do buy a popcorn there, and I bring bags to split it up into. For a party, I would either suck it up and buy the “kids pack”, or bring juice boxes and candy and do the aforementioned popcorn plan. I think it’s crazy to pay the ridiculous prices that they charge on everything.

  79. Laurie

    Rules were made to be broken…

  80. Patricia

    My 4 cents here.

    I’m with the rule keeper — mostly because of the example it sets. I think if it were just you and your family it is one thing, but you are also dealing with other people’s kids and their values. Seriously, one of these other 10 years can go home and tell her mom that Chickadee’s parents bring food into the theater and she could be highly offended and prevent Chickadee from playing with her girl again — it sounds insane, but could happen.

    I think that on the occasion of her public party, she should get to have a treat of movie theater food. HOWEVER, I’m (like you) cheap to my core. So, I’d call the theater and ask about group rates and parties. I know the theater I used to work at would do party packs for the kids and it included a small soda and a small popcorn — for very little more than the price of the ticket. If that doesn’t work, I’d announce that there is ice cream AFTER the movies and we don’t want to fill up during the movies. Then it might just be drinks.

    And should Mir win this one — bring in stuff that isn’t available in the theater — that part is only polite.

  81. Em

    I had a stand but now I’m torn. I’m being convinced to switch teams.

    How about this.. what if you bring the snacks but don’t hide them. If no one stops you, then you have done it with their blessing. Perhaps its a suggestion more than a rule. Like, “Hey! Why don’t you spend more on less! Wouldn’t that be fun? Wouldn’t that just make this all so much more of a movie EXPERIENCE?”. If they do take issue, then bend over and let them take all of your money for M&Ms. Its a gamble but it might pay off.

    Stupid having to set an example. Totally stole my thunder on bringing your own instead of being gouged.

  82. PandaWriter

    .. but I wouldn’t call it “stealing”, since you’re not taking their candy and popcorn.

    I’m just surprised they haven’t thought up a two drink minimum policy, like the clubs. Ack.

    For the record, we have brought our own food once or twice, but only because everything they have contains corn syrup (including the iced tea) which BF can’t have, or massive amounts of chemicals. So if we’re on one of our short lived “health” kicks, we can’t have anything they sell, except the water, anyway.

  83. crockpot lady

    movie theatre popcorn is gross.
    I wouldn’t think twice about bringing my own. and juice boxes and candy.
    but I hate rules.
    unless I make them up.

  84. Leanne

    See, where I live there is a local theater 2 minutes from my house that plays movies that are on their way out and onto DVD but sometimes the hubby and I just need a night out and for $3 a ticket and $4 for a large popcorn & $3 for a large soda, you can’t beat the $13 for a night at the movies. Even the candy is the same price as a store, so rather than hit the store we put the money back to the theater. However, when we go see new releases at the stadium style theaters we MIGHT pay the arm for soda and the leg for popcorn but NEVER the other arm and leg for candy – THAT we go to the dollar store for.

    But in your case, I’d buy the candy for the kids at the theater. Not only would you be showing your kids its ok to break the rules, you’d be showing her friends too.

    I know its gonna be hard to spend the $100 on just the movies, but its for your precious Chickadee’s big 1-Oh. :)

  85. karen

    while i have snuck in water in the past….when you have other people’s kids with you, you don’t break the rules.

    it’s her bday. suck it up and be the big spender. you’ll even win some “cool mom” points.

  86. Dawn - Texas

    It’s the price of doing business….make that price of doing parenting business. Buy from the theater, or don’t have snacks.

  87. Wendy

    If you feel strongly about bringing your own (which clealy you do), talk to the Manager (maybe make up a story about allergies, sugar or whatever – it’s okay to lie, just not steal) and get him to give you an “okay.” That way, you won’t have to feel like a thief (though I don’t agree it would be stealing) and more importantly you won’t have to make the kids hide their candy which might make them feel like they are doing something wrong.

    But if there is not agreement from the management, I’d say suck it up and buy the candy. It’s just one time and it is her birthday! The kids do find it more fun to buy candy there than to bring their own – though I have no idea why.

  88. Lou

    My mom used to help us smuggle candy in. The trick is getting a really big purse.

    I turned out OK. At least I haven’t done any jailtime.

  89. Melissa

    Mir, you absolutely have to do a follow-up post on this. Your commenters are hilarious. I’m dying to know the “official” position of your movie theater!

  90. erma

    I agree with Otto. If you were taking only your family, then well, you could do as you please, but you are taking other children, and I think you should then abide by the rules of the movie theater and set an example. You are such a terrific mother, Mir. Kids are ALWAYS going to love comin’ over and being at your house, doing things with you and your kids…they will take away impressions and examples and do likewise…Granted, this is no big thing in the whole scheme of things, but it’s the principle…

  91. Buz

    Don’t break the letter of the rule, just hack it a little. Bring cups and bags, then buy the unlimited refills large popcorn and soda. Divide them up and refill them again and again…..

  92. Kemi

    There is a theater chain in Utah that actually encourages you to bring in outside food. Meals, even. They have several different “shops” inside the complex to entice you– basic popcorn/drinks/snacks, Mexican cuisine, Chinese, pizza, sandwiches, soup, ice cream, fudge… the list goes on and on. But they allow any food, whether it’s theirs or yours. (Naturally they prefer theirs, but would rather have patrons with stuffed pockets than empty seats.) What a concept!

    Do you have a theater like that in your area? It may be worth the extra $2-$3 dollars per ticket to find a reasonable, ethical middle ground.

    We always snuck stuff in when I was a kid. My (cash-poor) parents encouraged it. Of course, we only went to the theater a handful of times, but still. I’m sort of on the fence. Sometimes, when we’re having a good paycheck, I support supporting the theater with its outrageous prices. Other times (especially with the kids) we bring in fruit snacks and M&Ms from home and call it good. Of course, I’m married to a man who can’t watch a commercial without a snack in his hand, so (for him!) watching a movie without snacks is like having invasive dental work performed without Novocaine. *rolling my eyes*

    I have to say, I felt a little squirmy reading the “ethical” replies. Next time we make plans to see a movie, I will definitely rethink the “bring your own” idea. On the other hand, with tickets so expensive and movies so unsatisfying lately, we may just catch them all from the comfort of our couch. Problem solved.

    Happy Birthday Party, Chickadee!

  93. dallimomma

    Someone once told me that integrity is who you are when no one else is looking. After 40+ years, I’m finally getting it. You have to be the same person, day-in and day-out, for your kids or they will sniff it out in a heartbeat. And then you’re sunk. Besides, the benefits, long and short-term, of doing what’s right just because are incalculable. How about treats after the movie if you don’t want to spend the mega-bucks?

  94. Deva

    my aunt had me smuggle in big bottles of water to a theater onces. I felt horrid about it – i was 12 and carrying this big granny purse…

  95. jennielynn

    You have some very ethical readers, my dear. I am not one of them. I would suggest a middle road. Bring ortho-appropriate candy for the brace-faced and buy the sticky stuff at the theater. It’s like submitting to robbery, but it’s a good compromise.

    I am actually known for smuggling fish tacos and tiny bottles of wine into the theater. I am blatantly, flagrantly unethical and I while I admire your husband, I am very glad mine is not saddled with those convictions!

  96. Cheryl

    As a parent, I would be very upset if my child went to a party where a parent broke rules at the theater and brought in outside items, because that decision would undermine how I am choosing to raise them. I wouldn’t call it stealing but I do see it as unethical. I think if you choose to bring outside items in when it is just your children, that is one scenario. But I definitely wouldn’t want mine involved or have to deal with the “but Chickadee’s parents do it” fallout.

  97. shannon in oregon

    I’m with Sassymonkey!

    Normally, yes you take in candy. But for a big birthday such as this, you buy it.

  98. Bob

    To me, the problem isn’t whether it is okay to ignore the no-outside-food rule. The problem is that there are children other than your own that you are taking. Can you make this decision for them? I would think not. Their parents may be taking the hard-line, respect their rules approach and you would be undermining their teaching.

  99. Windex

    Because children are involved I have to go with follow the rule…Fill them up before going if possible but no matter what you have to follow the rule on this one.

  100. MM

    This is exactly the reason I don’t go to the movies anymore.

    I can’t eat the slop they serve at the theaters, and they bitch about me carrying in my own bottle of drink (whatever it may be, even if it’s a protein shake or plain damned water) and had a sign up for the longest time that backpacks and oversized purses were Not Allowed. I have FOUR kids. I need big bags. I carry food, no matter where we go. I am a hypoglycemic, I carry food as an emergency thing, too! So. I gave up. No movies for me.

  101. E

    I have no objection to people bringing their own treats, as a general rule. However, I do think that when you’re bringing a group of other children you may have to just suck it up and buy treats there. (Because I’m all about having other people THINK we follow the rules all the time, and being a good example to other people’s children. But my own children, well, that’s another story.)

  102. Dianna

    Hey Mir
    I never comment but I read everyday. Your awesome, your family is awesome!
    This one oddly enough made me have to share.
    Here’s my opinion. It’s the movie theater’s own fault. Any place or establishment who actually believes that is is “reasonable” to charge $10.00 for admission and than 20.00 for a popcorn, candy and soft drink is just ASKING you to break the rules.
    I say go in your closet, get your largest purse and fill it to the brim.
    What happens when the lights go out is anybody’s guess.
    (That goes for you and Otto too!)

  103. dad

    Once again, you have spawned a firestorm!

    Ah, the dilema of ethics vs. realty brought on by rational tightwaddedness and the fear of brimstone. I’m officially staying out of this one, although teaching the kidlets that being moral is less importand than being stupid is a mixed lesson.

    If Solomon had to make a big decision like this…

  104. Amy

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that bringing your own snacks in is that bad. As a former movie theatre employee I can tell you that they make they highest revenue on the drinks. Maybe just buy everyone their own drink and call it even? I don’t even see why you’d have to make a big deal about where the candy/snacks were purchased to the point that the kids would care.

    I went to UGA while I worked at said theatre, so it is probably the same one.

  105. donna

    This is a toughie.

    First: I’m willing to say that the theater prices are enough to be considered highway robbery in and of itself.

    That being said, I always struggle with the idea of smuggling food into the theater. I think as parents we set an example, and what kind of example does that set? So, I’ve never smuggled – I would feel horribly guilty and constantly looking over my shoulder in fear of being caught for my illegal shananigans, because I’m a goody-two-shoes like that.

    Although, I have no problem eating something some one else brings . . . go figure.

  106. The Other Leanne

    Sha-ZAM, look at all these comments! I’m a rule-follower, so I’m with the “feed them before/feed them after” or take your chances with the snack bar offerings.
    My moral compass is oriented to “what if everybody did that?” In this case, the theater would not only lose money (I know, boo-hoo), but the person who has to clean the floors and seats would be wallowing in a sludge of apple slices, melted fudge, broken beer bottles and lemon meringue pie (mmm…pie…). And that’s really why we can’t just bring what we want into the theater…it’s a teachable moment for the party girls, you know.

  107. Dee

    I say, do the best of both worlds – buy them some candy from the dolla’ store, ’cause it’s better for them and obviously not available at the theatre. But buy them soda or something at the theatre, so you’ll have fulfilled the revenue obligation. There you have it. :D

  108. Erin

    Well, although I am a big believer in bringing in candy for myself and my husband, I have to agree with the law-abiding person in this case. If you’re chaperoning a group of kids, I think you have to follow the rules.

    Also, it really is “stealing” from the theater. Movie theaters make money on concessions, not on tickets (the movie studios get almost all of the revenue from ticket sales). It’s not a big deal, and (as I said above) I myself am known to bring in my own snacks, but that’s the truth of the matter.

    Sorry, Mir (since I think you’re the “bring in snacks” party, here), but I have to side with Otto on this one. It’s for the chiiiiiildreeeeen! :)

  109. random Lurker

    I suggest you have the kids over an hour early feed them lots of cheep pizza, have them brush well and head to the movies already full so no overpriced candy or pop need be purchased at all.

  110. Kathy from NJ

    All of my suggestions have already been made by other people. Sorry, but this round goes to Otto.

  111. Karen

    You must follow the rules, so the kids will learn that rules are there to be followed.

    For the record, I thought this was going to be a debate about Twizzlers vs. Switzers, and I couldn’t believe there was anyone out there who would willingly choose Switzers when Twizzlers are available.

  112. Charlise

    1) it is a special occasion and your daughter is not going to be happy about the whole “let’s bring our own food” thing. So – suck it up and pay for it there, or do something less expensive if cost is an issue… or don’t buy any stuff there.

    2) we had to take food into theaters when I was little because we were poor – and well, it is crappy. See 1) above.

  113. elizabeth

    I think the fact there are other’s children there trumps any sneaky money saving. It is one thing to warp, er, teach one’s own, but there are rules about warping someone else’s kids.

    I would totally try to skip the movie snacks all together, fill them up before you go and promise cake for after.

  114. Jules

    I am a rule breaker. I don’t do it a lot, but I will bring in candy if I think about it beforehand.

    For the record, the theatres don’t get $ off the box office, they make their cash off the concession. Enjoy that birthday!

  115. Caz

    I’d totally sneak the food in. But that’s just me. I’ve always done that, as have my parents. However if there is anything braces friendly at the concession stand, maybe buy 1 box of it to share with everyone and then buy dollar store stuff for the rest of the treats. However, if there is nothing friendly for braces then I wouldn’t feel AT ALL guilty about sneaking in the food.

  116. Bri

    I ALWAYS bring outside food into the movie theater, usually just a bottled soda, though occasionally a box of chocolate something. I learned this from my mother. We didn’t have much money when I was small, but my Mom would occasionally take my sister and I to a saturday matinee. We went next door to the newsstand and we were allowed to pick one candy each, which she put in her purse, then we all shared a movie soda. I have received shocked looks from friends for my behavior, but I’ve worked at a movie theater, I know what the markup is on those things. The only thing really worth buying from concessions is popcorn, not because the cost is worth it (they pay pennies, literally!) but because it tastes so good. Buy them sodas, or bottled water at the theater, but bring your candy in your bag. ;)

  117. Megan

    Yipes – many, many MANY comments which means I will be repeating (I USUALLY read all comments before chiming in – I do! I DO!!).

    My mother, who is the most frighteningly law-abiding person EVER (NEVER speeds, will return a single penny if given it over her due, would writhe in agony if forced to watch a pirated movie etc etc) always smuggled in food. Even more impressive – she smuggled in POPCORN! Like, big, bulky plastic bags of popcorn!

    I do the same. The movie theatre shows movies – that’s its purpose in life. I would not record a movie in the theatre, I would not sneak in the back door to avoid paying the ticket. The snack bar is a convenience for the customer and a major whopping poke-in-the-consumer-eye source of jacked up profits for the theatre. I admit, if they sold, say, jelly beans at only a quarter above the general price I would totally buy the jelly beans there – but THREE TIMES THE COST?? Oh no you vile sugar peddlers you, you shall not have my $10.

  118. Holly

    Oh for crying out loud, seriously? Bring your own darn food! We ALWAYS brought our own food to the theatre growing up, and not once did it even occur to me that it was against the rules. Your children are not going to grow up to be heathens, and even if you do get caught? I’m sure the majority of employees are college kids who couldn’t care less!

  119. kat

    I think it’s unethical to smuggle in snacks, and I completely agree with a previous poster that I’d be upset if it happened at a party my kids were at. Not that the prices for popcorn and high-fructose corn syrup…er… soda aren’t ridiculous, but it’s part of the “going to the movies” deal. Honestly, feed them before the movie and don’t buy any candy, or buy it at the movies and factor it into the price of the party. I still think you are very pretty and shiny, but I’m with Otto.

  120. Megan

    Oh – to add… having read over a couple of comments (and STEAMING in guilt because of my evil, evil ways)

    My mother is also the Cheapest Woman In The World – this woman re-uses paper lunch bags. She washes and re-uses aluminum foil. She wraps presents in newspaper (and TOWELS!!). She. does. not. spend.

    So perhaps this is the instant where her moral compass is smashed into smithereenies by the incredible pinching force of her wallet.

  121. EZibbets

    I think the orthodontia issue is a smoke screen. There are things there, like junior mints, that they can eat.
    I think you would be setting a bad example by breaking the rules. You could compromise with a sugary drink during the movie and cake and/or ice cream afterward.

  122. Jamie AZ

    I thought that most theaters let you bring small snacks in these days? I would bring my own munchies, but buy drinks at the theater. We had a birthday party at a theater once, too, and everyone moved to tables in the lobby area for cupcakes after the movie – can you do that and just get them drinks during the movie?

  123. tuney

    Take the candy, but buy the soda at the theater. Last time I bought movie candy I got 12 raisins for $2. That is just beyond theft, thanks. I wouldn’t take drinks in because that would be flaunting my rebellion. :D Candy is easier to justify. Don’t get me wrong, I am a ‘rules is rules’ kinda girl most of the time, even while I am rebelling inside my head. Honestly? It’s made my life MUCH less interesting. Besides, kids don’t care. Do they even KNOW there’s a rule?

  124. mbbored

    I used to be a bring in your own snacks kind of girl. But then I learned that movie theaters don’t actually make money off the tickets, but rather, make all their profits from concessions. So, I usually get ice cream or something before hand, then if I’m with a group, we split a giant tub of popcorn.

  125. Kerry

    Does the movie theater actually have a rule or is it just implied?

    If there were an actually RULE I would have trouble breaking it, but we bring in food all the time. Usually I portion out candy in little bags or we will bring a big bag of m&ms to dump into purchased popcorn. Sometimes waters too, but I am careful not to bring in too much and alert anyone.

    I have a memory of going to the movies with a friend as a kid. We were both wearing “hoodies” and when we got out of the car her Dad called us over and told us to turn around. He then filled our hoods with candy. I thought that was just so cool. Thanks for reminding me!

  126. arduous

    Are they really really keen on enforcing the rules in the movie theatre? Cuz I gotta tell you, that most movie theatres I go to don’t allow outside snacks, but literally, I’ve walked in with food from outside clearly visible and I’ve never had anyone bat an eyelash.

    I think it’s fine. Get some dollar candy. What are the people who work at the theatre REALLY going to take a 10 year old’s GOODY BAGS? REALLY?

    Or do as other people have suggested and split the difference by getting popcorn at the concession stand and candy at the dollar store.

  127. The Other Other Dawn

    Avoid the whole issue (Just call me Cleopatra, Queen of Denial) by making the outing a two-parter – first part movie, second part ice cream “parlour.” Even with braces you can eat ice cream, right? And they get to go TWO places! And can discuss the movie while they inhale ice cream! And can you tell I’ve tried to pull a fast one on 10-year olds before?

    I am on the fence about the whole outside food issue because: 1) I am cheap and CANNOT pay the exhorbitant prices the theatres charge but 2) I don’t like breaking the rules and to complicate it further 3) I LOVE MOVIE POPCORN.

    I haven’t been any help at all, have I?

  128. Fabs

    I say tell the kids who are coming if they want snacks at the theater they need to bring their own money, but you will pay for the movie ticket and no sneaking in snacks.

  129. Procrastamom

    For my son’s tenth birthday this past February, we took six kids to the theatre with those cheap Cineplex tickets bought at Costco. $9.99 buys one admission with a child-sized drink, popcorn and snack included. There also “may” have been a gaggle of chocolate bars, bought at the supermarket for 90% less than the movie theatre price, stuffed in the bottom of somebody’s handbag, but you didn’t hear that from me.

    All that to say, I’m clearly siding with the person who wants to bring in the candy/snacks and the person who doesn’t want to break the rules. Glad I could help.

  130. Randi

    I’m probably a day late and a dollar short, but here’s my take: have a snack BEFORE you get to the theater…or promise ice cream afterwards. Then neither of you has to be wrong or right!

  131. Anna

    Alright, let’s say it’s an unlawful act, and if caught, you’d get arrested.
    Picture ruining her birthday by being handcuffed and dragged away in a cop car. Picture setting THAT example for her friends.
    That said, I would keel over thinking of the cost of buying all those snacks. ack.

  132. Deb

    Good question!! Personally, when we go as a family, yes, we take in snacks. But we also buy popcorn sometimes too. But if I was taking a group of other children, I would feel like I had to buy from them so that I do not “break the laws” while children are in my care.

    Now, I have to say we don’t go to the movies often because of the cost, it is soooo expensive. We do have one very small theatre that doesn’t kill you the concession prices.

    Sorry! ;-)

  133. Katie in MA

    Mir, darling, as much as I would love to side with you – I mean, the “Reality-Guided” Person – I think that you have make an exception to reality just this once. If it were just the two of you and the kids – have a dollar-store candy extravaganza, I say. BUT, since there are other children involved (many of them, from the sound of it), and you’re not sure what the comfort level of their parents would be (I’m guessing here), I would err on the safe side if only to be sure one of the guests isn’t going to snark you out. Oh I’m JOKING! (I hope.)

  134. themuttprincess

    I always bring food in. No matter how many kids I have with me, or adults. I could care less as to how it looks, my parents did and my brother and I turned out just fine….

    Also, it is too expensive, and I have food allergies.

    I do buy pop to make up for it.

    That is my story and I am sticking to it.

  135. Rachel

    I am totally a food sneaker. That said- for the party I think that I would try to appear morally upright in front of the kids that aren’t mine. I would fill my purse with dollar store candy before hand, let the kids pick what they wanted from the concessions area, then let hubby lead them to their seats while I paid. I would buy 1 item and have the theater put it in a bag, once I was out of sight of any officials and my group I would put my dollar store candy in the theater bag. Voila! No one would be the wiser and you look morally upright while still being thrifty- best of both worlds.

  136. Kitty

    Since you’re taking other people’s children out, you’re responsible for doing the right thing. After all, if they’re sitting in their own row and get into trouble for bringing in outside food expressly against their rules, they could be asked to leave or at least get a telling-off. I’m guessing that wouldn’t be a good thing for a birthday party. In your shoes, I’d just suck up the extra cost and deal with it by allocating a specific amount per child so you’re not surprised by the amount at the theater. Sometimes, you just have to do the right thing even when it seems like there’s a better solution.

  137. Mysh

    Okay, forgive me if someone else has already suggested this as I didn’t read through all of the other comments.

    How about if you just forego all snacks DURING the movie, save for maybe allowing the girls to chew gum or have a tootsie pop. Then after seeing the movie, launch into a food festival!

    I understand the need to be law and rule abiding, especially in the position of being the responsible adult leader of a group of impressionable children. However, movie theater concession stands are virtual highway robbers when it comes to pricing just about everything there and the food quality/quantity isn’t anything to rave about.

    So skirt the whole delimma if possible either by eating before the movie or after the movie with food and treats that are WAAAYYYY better than what you’d find at the concession stand and make everyone happy!

    :O) (Dying to hear what happens!)

  138. Leah

    I have been known to pop popcorn at home and put it in ziploc baggies and bring sodas as well in my purse with a jacket on top. I haven’t it done it recently but then I haven’t been to the theater since Ratatouille (I paid for popcorn then because we went with friends)

  139. dana

    When is the cake and ice cream? Why do they need lots of snacks? Why not buy a few large popcorns, they will give you smaller bags or cups divide the popcorn up and after the party serve the cake. They will never be the wiser.

    Good luck

  140. Laura Bacon

    Well, I totally see where the bring-your-own-food thing comes from, because the prices are INSANE. But, like many people have said, the theaters make virtually all of their money from food- they can’t earn enough just off the tickets. So to me, that’s the cost of the movie experience- if I want to eat, then I pay them. The manager/owner of the theater owns this business as his livelihood, it’s what pays his mortgage, just like anything else. I mean, if someone were to rip off one of your columns and publish it on their website without paying, and justified it by being all “well, I like her writing, but don’t want to pay what she charges” you’d be steamed, yes?
    I know! I’m no fun. I’m sorry.

  141. April

    I got to go with the “ethical” crowd on this one. I know it’s a rip-off and all, but it is a bit soon for the little ones’ minds to understand the differences between rules that are okay to break. But you can also complain loudly about how expensive it is, and how outraged you are to make up for it :)

  142. Noelle

    What will happen if the theater finds out you brought your own snack and asks you all to leave? Wouldn’t your daughter just die of embarassment in front of all her frinds? I would suck it up and buy the consession stand snacks just this once and sneak in the treats every other time you go to the movies.

  143. Vane

    Wow … I’m just stunned at how expensive going to the movies is in the US! Over here tickets are around $4.5 dlls each (and only $3.5 for the kids) and we pay $7 dlls for two large drinks and large popcorn.

    That said … I guess I would buy popcorn and soda from the theatre and bring a few small treats for the kids who can’t eat the stuff from the concession.

    Hope you figure this one out! And happy b’day to Chickie!

  144. Justin

    I think it’s just awful that Otto wants you to smuggle in snacks. (smirk) Large bucket of popcorn, they often refill them for free, that all the kids can share. A drink for each. No candy because cake and ice cream will be served with the singing of Happy Birthday.
    It’s true that the theatre doesn’t really make much on tickets. And teaching kids that it’s possible to enjoy things even with some delayed gratification is a good thing.

  145. Janis

    I LOVE Heather’s idea about having one parent leave to “go get snacks” or walk in after the party is seated – no one knows where the Twizzlers came from and you save a boatload of money. We should put her to work on the Middle East Conflict.

  146. Kristin

    My husband used to manage a movie theater. FYI, the theater itself makes something in the range of 50 cents from the actual movie ticket. The rest goes to the production company. Theaters make 95% of their money from concessions – which is why they cost so much. Thus, if no one bought popcorn, there wouldn’t be movie theaters. Or, we’d be paying a heck of a lot more for a ticket.

    Have you called the theater and asked them for a group/party rate? You can usually get a one price deal for a ticket, popcorn and soda for each kid.

    And, everything else aside, since you’ve got other people’s children with you, then yeah, I’d say you have to abide by the rules. You wouldn’t want one of Chickadee’s friends’ parents doing something you find morally wrong with her in tow, would you?

  147. udge

    FWIW and I am not an expert in raising children: You can’t expect your kids to obey rules if they see you disobeying them (without suffering in consequence). Obey the rules, grit your teeth and buy your food at the concession.

  148. Jenny

    PS — Twizzlers are gross.

  149. Ladybug Crossing

    If you are going to have cake after the movie, then don’t bring anything and don’t buy anything. The soda is going to pour through one or two of them and you’ll end up running to the bathroom every 10 min. (Make them all pee before they enter the theater!) The food is outrageously expensive and not worth the time in line to purchase it.

  150. Heather

    I usually end up sneaking stuff in – it’s just WAY too expensive. Maybe do little goodie bags of candy (it IS a birthday party!) and then buy a big bag of popcorn to share?

  151. Wendy

    I grew up with my mom who had a separate HUGE purse used for the sole purpose of transporting food and drinks to the theater for her four hungry children. :-) I still do it sometimes with my kids. However, I might feel strange doing it with other people’s kids. How hypocritical is that??? haha

    Either way, I want to find out which direction you went! I don’t think its a harsh enough offense where people will judge you either way. (Or at least I hope not!)

  152. Heidi

    Yup, I’m with Ladybug Crossing and everyone else who mentioned it–tell the girls to look forward to cake and ice cream after the movie. Money will be saved, as will your morals. (Snerk!)

  153. Sheila

    Hmmm… I am really having such a HARD time here trying to figure out who is who in this scenario… it is just so mysterious and perplexing which side you each fall on…

    I like the eat first, watch movie, and eat again later solution. (Wait… it was eating before AND after, right? Pizza, then movie, then ice cream & cake? Oh, and what time should I be there?)

  154. Sheila

    P.S. I like how your post title appears as

    “Further adventures in dental hell… paved with Twizzlers”

    -seems fitting.

  155. Kat

    My first job was at a movie theater and I can imagine my overzealous first boss saying something like:

    “People trying to bring in their own food is like a kick in the face”

  156. Kat

    I have heard though (I cannot verify fact), that most of the ticket sales go to producers, actors, etc… and that the concession is where theaters make their profit.

  157. Sue

    I agree with most of the others. Bring some back up, orthodontically-approved candy/snacks, but buy the main stuff from the theater. That whole example for the children thing. I hate it!

  158. Leanne

    I’ve brought my own snacks into a theatre before, because it’s well-documented that I am both Cheap and an occasional Thief. I would not do (and have not done) this when my children are there to witness it, though, because while I want them to be Frugal (ahem), I don’t want them to be Theives. In that sutuation, I’ve made popcorn for the kids to eat in the car on the way to & from the theatre, and then bought a small popcorn for us all to share during the movie. So, I pay little (relatively)for snacks, but everyone gets thier fill of Buttery Carbs. Mmmmm, buttery carbs… Also, IMO it’s OK to bring a container of tap water into the theatre to drink, because no one should be forced to drink that nasty bottled stuff.

  159. Lindsay

    We sneak in food all the time, but I wouldn’t have the steel magnolias required to do it with a gaggle of kids and the potential scene that would be made if we got busted and the 10 year old got embarassed when all the prebought candy is confiscated, your head explodes and the kids end up having to buy candy anyway. Now that is therapy stuff if you ask me. Also, I could never trust kids to keep that a secret. One will probably ask you for the candy in your coat right when you are paying.

  160. Dee

    Another thing crossed my mind. Why such emphasis on rules? Give the money to the theater if you consider it a worthwhile cause – buy the overpriced candy and pop if you want the theatre to flourish. Don’t do it because of a “rule”. Frankly, it’s irrational societal “don’t stir things up” behavior, and it’s been nagging me in the back of my mind ever since I commented here. I realize the rules are there “for the children” but I don’t think it’s a good way to raise kids, by showing them irrational rules should be obeyed because it’s the way of the society. I’m siding firmly with Mir on this one.

  161. Sue

    And I forgot to add, I second calling the manager and seeing if you can get some kind of bulk deal. Our local theater has a party package and even a room to eat your cake in.

  162. tori

    Holy cow look at all these comments! I came back to read them to see what everyone said, and also to say happy birthday to your daughter because I forgot to say it in my earlier comment. My birthday was yesterday, and I remembered hers being close to mine…now if only I could remember things I actually need to remember instead of things that don’t affect my life at all!

  163. Kate

    Split the difference: Buy a couple of big tubs of popcorn and split them into cute little popcorn bags from the party store. Bring in or skip candy (for the kids. Adults are definitely entitled to a box of Jr. Mints or Sour Patch Kids). If you’re ok with soda, all theaters have “courtesy cups.” Buy big and split those too. I am definitely a fan of bringing in juice, though. You can claim moral high ground because theaters don’t sell 100% juice, and you don’t want the kids to have too much processed sugar…right?

  164. mike golch

    do what I do,wait untill the movie is on DVD rent it than watch it that way you don’t 1) have to pay the high price of a ticket. 2) pay the high cost of something from the consession stand. Win/Win.No?

  165. Sheryl

    My goodness, 80 bazillion comments about covert candy! Absolutely sneak candy into the movies. As Martin Luther King taught us, when rules are immoral, they must be protested, and civil disobedience against the outlandish prices theatre concessions charge is EXACTLY what he stood for. I think he liked gummy bears best.

  166. Kate

    OMG! I just actually read the other comments…REALLY???
    It’s not freaking illegal to bring in outside food. Theaters request that you don’t bring in outside food. This really doesn’t come close to qualifying as a moral issue. If you wouldn’t buy something from the snack bar if you didn’t bring something in, you aren’t costing them a cent in potential income. Saying that bringing in something is stealing is like saying you should be required to purchase a minimum at the snack bar.
    I regularly and very blatently bring Starbucks coffee into our theater. They don’t complain…they don’t sell coffee…or Diet Coke, for that matter…what else is a girl to do? My mother just did not raise me to drink Pepsi :)

  167. Tammy

    Yep Otto’s right. Buy the food at the movie theater.

  168. Carrie

    I sneak in healthy snacks. If the theater were to offer healthy options to their patrons I might feel more guilty about this… but I doubt it.

  169. Jenny

    I shouldn’t comment again, but I can’t stand it!

    I just think it *is* a vaguely moral issue; I certainly don’t think it’s an actual *crime* to sneak food into the theater, or I wouldn’t do it myself every now and then (or until they start selling the nuggets and waffle fries). The cost is certainly outrageous, compared to what you’d pay at the dollar store, BUT, as many people have pointed out, that’s how the theaters make their money — it’s a business, that’s their business model. We only think movie theaters are about the movies — it’s actually a place where you buy really expensive snacks and, in exchange for doing so, get to watch a movie on a big screen in the dark with other people and surround sound. Cheap candy (or whatever) isn’t a constitutionally-guaranteed right or anything, though perhaps it should be. (Call your Congressman!)

    And I’m all for civil disobedience and that stupid rules are made to be broken, and contraband M&M’s do not constitute a gateway crime IMO, but it’s not so much We Must Screw The Man! for me as it is that, yes, theaters generally discourage outside food (see above, in re: business model) and I would have other people’s impressionable children in my care, and whether they’d really notice or not, if it were me, I’d stick to the so-called rules at that time for that reason. You know, for the children.

  170. Donna

    Wow… I never thought this issue was such a big deal. I have always brought in food/candy/drinks to theaters and have never felt one ounce of guilt. Not that we go that much. I have been known to pop popcorn at home and put it in little bags for my kids to eat there. I seriously do not see what the big deal is. I am amazed by all these strong opinions on this topic! If you (or your husband) is worried about the ethics of it all, but also don’t want to pay those ridiculous prices, just buy nothing. The kids won’t starve in the 2 hours you are there! Being at the movie should be a treat in its own right!

  171. sumo

    Damn, it’s a long way down the bottom of the comments. I think I only got through half of them. First, I agree with those suggesting you find out what the actual policy is. IF there is a no-outside-food policy, THEN…

    On the ethically-guided position: For the first 2 weeks of a first run movie, pretty much 100% of the ticket sales goes to the studio/distributor and the theater pretty much only makes money off the concession sales. If you go to a movie and buy none of their food, they have made nothing on the transaction. This is not stealing, it is using the distribution deal that the theater has agreed to. If you bring your own candy, that is not stealing either. The theater owner may feel like you’re taking money out of his pocket, but you’re not. If that were the case, you could be arrested. Worst case scenario is you’d get kicked out. You might feel guilty knowing that the theater isn’t making money of you, but I kinda doubt it. As far as setting an example for the kids, are they at an age where following the rules is what you want to teach? Do you want to teach them that it is OK to ignore rules if it is going to be for your personal gain?

    On the reality-guided position: I like how you avoided saying the “unethically-guided position.” There’s what’s Right, and there’s what’s Right and never the twain shall meet, eh? All kidding aside, there comes a point where you need to teach your kids to think for themselves. Some rules are stupid and you have to know your moral compass and do what you think is right in any given situation. It is something that everyone faces eventually and the kids are going to take their lead from you. And really, if you get caught all that would really happen is they’d take your candy. Big deal.

    Since this has become a big moral debate, what is the lesson to teach here? That it is unethical to pay more than retail? Or that it is OK to bend over and take their exhorbitant pricing? As for me, I don’t have a problem if someone wants to take candy into the theater. I used to do it, but now I’ll generally buy it at the theater or skip it altogether. I’m more willing to pay for movie popcorn because… MOVIE POPCORN! With Mystery Grease! Yummm! In a situation like this, I’d probably pay for the movie snacks. For one, it’s one thing to teach your kids to break the rules (or think for themselves), it’s another to teach it to other people’s kids. And a lot of places have free refills on the jumbo tubs of popcorn, so they can share one or two tubs and go back for refills. I also have to consider the downside of getting caught. It is possible, though unlikely, that you and all the kids would be ejected. NOT COOL. Even if it were just having all your candy confiscated, it would be DISASTER of a birthday party for a certain birthday girl (though it would make great blog material).

    Of course, this will seem quaint in a few years when you find out they are sneaking beer into the theater.

  172. Tammy

    Bring in the outside candy. Why shouldn’t the concession stand be subject to the same price competition as WalMart and Target? Why should we pay (up to) 5x the normal price for candy JUST BECAUSE it’s sold within their walls? Yes, they have a right to CHARGE whatever they want. But, I have the right to BUY IT wherever I choose (and smuggle it in my extra large purse). The prices for movie tickets are another matter–you can’t go in to WalMart & see a flick on the first day it comes out (although maybe they should consider that) and generally speaking, ticket prices are pretty similar from theater to theater (within a geographic area).

    I do agree tho, movie theater popcorn is the BEST!!

  173. Flea

    Good night Irene! This brought in the comments! When the Hunny takes us to the movies, it’s concession food. When I take kids, it’s smuggled treats. I just won’t spend that kind of money. Period. And the Hunny’s afraid of being caught. Wuss.

    Have a happy birthday, Chicky!

  174. ChristieNY

    I would call the theatre and see if they have a party deal that includes snacks – some do! :)

    If not then small goody bags for the kids with small juice boxes & snacks to give during the movie shouldn’t be a big deal and you can promise them cupcakes somewhere else before or after.

    I love the comment saying to buy a big popcorn and bring a bunch of dixie cups to split it up in – very smart! :)

  175. ikate

    you’ve gotta buy the stuff at the theater. No way to have “exceptions” to the rules some of the time. You’re opening up a heap of trouble later if you do. Suck it up and pay the big bucks or feed them before heading to the show.

    Sorry Mir, Otto wins.

  176. Susan

    Okay, I’m pure evil. I’d buy a bunch of dollar boxes of candy, disappear “to the concession stand” for a few minutes after getting the kids seated, and reappear with the candy in hand. I wouldn’t *say* they were purchased there, but that would be their assumption. Right?

    A true criminal, aren’t I?

  177. Grete

    Gotta say, I’m normally a food-sneaker into movie theaters. But, because (1) it’s a birthday party and (2) you are setting the example of rule-following for a gaggle of girls (who may tattle back to your own peers if you don’t follow the rules), I suggest you buy a couple large boxes of candy for them to share…

  178. Grete

    P.S. When I was a kid, I always thought the actual movie theater food was more special and tasted better than what we had at home.

  179. danelle

    I’ve snuck food in, but not when my kids were around. And I think that probably it is understood that when you agree to take kids to the movies, concessions is part of the deal. A ginormous thing of popcorn isn’t ALL that much, and if you bring a few brown paper lunch bags, they can each have a bit of their own.

  180. Kati

    Please forgive me if what I’m about to say has been covered already. I’m in a bit of a time crunch here, but also feel the need to weigh in.

    First, I grew up with a mother who packed snacks for us when we went to the (very rare for us) matinee. We bought our drinks there and ate whatever she had brought with her. The takehome message I got from this was that we were poor (true), and that this was the only way we were going to afford to go to the movies at all. I did not feel like my mom was setting the tone for a life of crime. I felt like we simply could not afford the expensive convenience foods, and that it was a smart thing to live within our means at the time. (Considering how closely the rest of our expenses were budgeted – mom and dad were very good at sharing with us why we couldn’t do lots of frivolous things – this was just in keeping with the family philosophy on not spending more than we had.)

    Second, there is no posted moviehouse policy (at least here in my cinema) forbidding the consumption of outside food. I am there for a movie, so feel no obligation to patronize the snack bar.

    Here are some parallel examples for the above statement: I compare this to getting hungry when I am at school. I paid for the lecture (which can range from a documentary to a comedy to a tragedy, depending on the professor), but feel in no way forced to get my meals from the on-campus cafeterias or snack machines. I make and bring my own meals. Or I think about what I do when I get hungry at the grocery store. There are plenty of snacks and prepared meals there. Instead, I eat what I’ve brought and just do my regular grocery shopping.

    Today, I’ll still bring my dollar store candy with me, more to stem my sweet tooth’s inability to leave one nugget o’ goodness behind in the ginormous bags you get at the concession stand, but also because it’s the cheaper thing to do for my budget. I’m not purloining the candy from behind the glass in the lobby, so cannot call this stealing. I am not breaking any posted rules, so cannot call it lying. All I am doing is the fiscally responsible thing for my family, which is a great lesson for my children. If the movie theater wants my snack money, it can lower its prices.

    I’d also like to throw out that I’m not the Frugal Queen by any means. When we go to the free movies over the summer (a little slice of air-conditioned heaven in southwest Florida), we totally get the $5 snack pack for each person in the group. It just goes against my capitalist grain to buy expensive when 5 minutes of forethought will save me some significant coin.

    That being said, if this is going to be a major cause for concern between you and Mr. Mir (heh), do what previous posters have said before and see what kind of deal you can swing with the movie theater. Down here, there is an actual party room in the cinema for birthdays where the kids can gather beforehand and afterwards, and the party package includes discounted tickets and goody bags complete with movie snacks. So it avoids the argument completely while still being a thrifty option.

    OK, so that ought to cover my 2-cents-worth with the extra 98 cents thrown in whether it was wanted or not. *grin* Anything to avoid studying for next week’s finals…sigh…

  181. Meg

    I’m a candy-sneaker myself (why overpay for a bad selection of candy when I can bring something better?), but I think you have to follow the rules in front of the little ones, or risk fallout from “But Monkey’s parents do it!”

  182. rose

    Ah, the slippery slope. Do you normally sneak food in? If so, you don’t have to have the ethics conversation with your own kids. Do you bring your own sandwiches into restaurants? The mark-up is probably the same. When your kids are old enough to download music, will you let them use Limewire or one of those services? Or make them pay Otto is a photographer. If someone hadn’t planned on buying one of his photographs, would it be OK for them to copy/download it for free?

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so maybe someone has gone into this already, but the theatres make their money on concessions, not the tickets. Depending on how long the movie has been out theaters have to give back 75-90% of the ticket revenue. Movies are expensive, snacks are expensive. If you want to do it less expensively, stop and get giant Sundaes before you go to the movies.

  183. Kris

    My children are already warped to our lawlessness, and part of our pre-movie stop is to the Dollar Store for candy. We also bring our own water bottles, as my youngest child only ever drinks water and I refuse to pay $2 a bottle at a theater (or anywhere else) since we always take water with us everywhere anyway.

    Thus spake the rule breaker.

  184. Kati

    I’ve got to comment again, if only to avoid looking at my microbiology notes again. Feeling the need to shop at the concession stand because that’s where the movie theater makes its money is like saying I have to buy the name-brand convenience food at the grocery store because that’s where *they* make their money. Or feeling the need to buy name-brand prescriptions rather than generic equivalents because that’s where those folks make *their* money. Quite frankly, that’s not my problem. I get to shop where I wish after weighing convenience, quality and price.

    The restaurant comparison doesn’t hold up for me because I go to a restaurant to purchase a meal just as I go to the movie theater to watch a movie. (As an aside, I’m not asked to chip in to pay for the cable television that’s running in the bar of the restaurant.)

    I also don’t think the lesson applies to illegally downloading copyrighted music or photographs because of that blatant use of the word “illegal.” There are definate laws there with set consequences when they’re broken, so you don’t break the rules. Period.

    Again, if there’s a posted rule at the theater that says no outside food with purchase of ticket, well, there you go. If not, I’m not going to buy my candy there out of the goodness of my heart.

  185. Shannon H

    Wow, I’m totally on the fence! When I first read your breakdown, I was all “bring your own candy,” then the commenters reminded me that you are a role model for a bunch of tweens on this particular movie outing. Then I thought about it as a mom of a toddler who’s allergic to all but rice cakes and bananas so I bring his approved foods with me wherever we go (haven’t tried a movie yet, he’s only two). So in the end, between the orthodontia issues and movie theater prices, I think the “bring your own apple slices/other healthy snacks not available at the theater” is a good way to go. Otherwise, I’d economize by splitting 4 or 5 packages of theater candy amongst the dozen girls.

  186. Kitty

    Wow. I’m usually all for rule-breaking, but I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do with someone else’s kids, and I really don’t think abiding by a business’s request is “bending over and taking it”. If they ask you not to bring in outside food (if there are signs up, etc) then I personally think it’s wrong to do it. Maybe that’s because my mom was self employed and had her own small business when I was growing up, and she used to get screwed all the time because people just couldn’t stick to simple rules agreed ahead of time.

    Anyway, I already commented, but I’m on the side of eating before, afterward or just buying the theaters snacks. :)

  187. David

    Wow! 186 comments so far. I’m impressed. And dude, I can’t believe your dad abstained. Dang, that guy’s smart!

    Anyway, my two cents is this: I don’t see the loss of revenue for the theater as stealing per se, at least no more so than choosing to do without, but smuggling food in still violates their rules AND sends the wrong message to the pending “young adults”. My advice: Snack before/after, or buy it there.

  188. Mocha

    I’m a middle child. I can only offer poor advice as I own a button that reads: Question Authority!

    You know which way I’m voting. Break the rules.

    Have I mentioned that I’m an administrator at a school? Don’t tell on me, please.

  189. Doc

    I’m with the don’t break the rules crowd – assuming that there truely is a rule against outside food. The main point – in my mind – is what message are you sending to the children involved? They are old enough to know about the rule and I, personally, would not want to teach them that it is OK to break/ignore rules – of any kind – at that age – especially since you will have other people’s children with you.

    Why do people think they need to eat/drink in movie theature anyway?

    Snack/party at the ice cream parlor after the movie.

  190. kathy

    I side with the rule-breaker. Unfortunately, I think that’s Otto. But he has to be a good guy cause you married him, right? sheesh. Anyway, I have never purchased movie theatre stuff – either it has dairy in it or it is too fattening or they don’t have any soda/pop-free alternative. And then we moved to Mexico and you can bring a live chicken into the theatre so who really cares about movie theatre popcorn?

  191. Kim

    I side with the rule-follower. Skip the popcorn and overpriced, sticky candy, and go with a nasty movie hot dog and a small drink…and then cake and ice cream afterwards, at home. :)

  192. Shannon

    Hmm…I dunno. On the one hand, you are asking a person who once smuggled a fudge pop into a movie theater in her jacket.

    On the hand, you’re dealing with (impressionable?) children.

  193. mamaspeak

    Like you’re going to read this; OMG did you hit a nerve here. Ummm, I think the snacks are overpriced to the point of being beyond reach. I would: puchase the super huge popcorn & have dixie cups so everyone could share. I would also sneak in my large bag of m&m’s, etc…which all could share as well. (Do you think the kids will notice you didn’t buy it there, really? I doubt they’re paying that much attention.) I would also bring mini bottles of water.

    I REALLY liked Steve’s idea of being in healthy stuff & then telling the theater when they offer such items then you’ll buy them there. AND you can always claim that these are the “goody bags” from the party, so it wasn’t that you were avoiding paying their prices it was just part of the party thing. ;-)

  194. Lisette

    Take your own – prices at the movies are ridiculous. You’re giving them enough money with the tickets, so you’re paying your moral obligation, there. Your kids are smart – if you really want, explain to them that these are special circumstances, and that generally, you should buy it from the theatre, if you’re going to buy it at all. Especially considering you mentioned kids in different stages of orthodontic work, it would be unfair to provide them with things they shouldn’t eat, or will have difficulty eating.

  195. matinyoupi

    My radical solution is that one shouldn’t be allowed to eat/drink in a theater. That would solve your problem.
    1) Candy ruins teeth
    2) It’s annoying to hear paper/plastic bags shuffling during the performance
    3) Food at theaters is overpriced and unhealthy
    4) The theater looks like a pigsty after a performance
    5) You’ll have to deal with “sugar rushed” children afterwards

    Get them pop-corn from the theater and treat them to ice-cream or whatever else after the performance.

  196. Brigitte

    If it was just your family, all in the same row together, I’d say “stealing” would be fine, because you’re much more likely to be able to control how sneaky everyone is with it.

    With a gaggle of girls from various families, in another row, they will be careless with their illegal treats and get caught by the local theater narc (plus, I wouldn’t want to reveal my life of crime to those other girls).

    I say, stay legal and buy the one theater treat or two they CAN have, then (like others have suggested) take them out (or home) for more treats afterwards.

  197. jp

    PS………..what sort of people read a Blog but not ALL the comments!??!?

    Isn’t that part of the total package???

    just askin……….

  198. barb

    My family straddles the fence on this one. We do buy popcorn and soda at the concession stand (although it’s 1 big ‘corn and 2 big sodas for the 4 of us to share) but bring in our own candy. In our defense, 2 of the 4 of us have Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes and require sugar free or alternative snacks that the theater never has.

    Unfortunately, much as it burns my cheap little heart, I’m with Otto on this one. Only because you are taking children from other families.

  199. Kris

    I really don’t understand all the “if it was just your kids it would be fine to bring in food, but since it’s other peoples’ kids you must set a good example” comments.
    Why must you be more ethical with other kids than you are with your own? If you think there is an ethical wrong here, isn’t it even more important that your own kids know your belief, and behave accordingly?

    That being said, I don’t think there is an ethical wrong in bringing in your own snacks. The theaters here (I live where you live – hi!) don’t check purses, so as long as you don’t have your huge Dollar Store bag when you walk in, you’re home free! I’m not even sure they’d stop you if you did have a dollar store bag in your hand.

    On the other hand, can you put a price on marital harmony?

  200. susan

    Wow, talk about food for thought! (sorry) After reading all the comments, I changed my thinking a bit because there is the issue of leading by example and blah, blah, blah. But I do want to point out that some theaters will let bend the rules for parties. We went to a few where we were allowed to do cake in the lobby and then we bought our popcorn to take in to the movie. We also drank water in paper cups from the water fountain. So, you might ask the manager for suggestions before you arrive. They might give you a deal on concessions – it’s worth the asking…

  201. Lauren

    My husband and I and our friends ALWAYS smuggle food into the theater! One time, our friend stuffed a large ziploc bag of cookies down his pants and the ticket lady caught him and confiscated the cookies, but I always carry a large purse with snacks and water bottles and I’ve never gotten caught. But really, if all they do is confiscate your food, that’s not a bad punishment. You’re not going to get kicked out of the theater and the cops aren’t going to come. You’ll just be embarrassed for a few minutes and maybe even get a slight rush from zomg doing something a little bad for once, but seriously, it’s no big deal.

  202. Veronica

    When I was a kid, we ALWAYS snuck food into the movies in Mum’s handbag.

    Now I am an adult? Yeah, I still sneak in food. Much cheaper that way.

  203. Jeni

    I have a purse that is strictly for the movies only. ‘nough said. :)

  204. ailo

    Sometimes rules are stupid, and kids should be raised to be able to discriminate a personal ethics system, rather than relying solely on “Because I Said So” to make up their minds. I was, and I think I turned out pretty great.

    That said, personal parenting choices shouldn’t necessarily be foisted on other people’s kids. Just as, were I a parent, I wouldn’t appreciate other parents providing what I think is a poor example. So unless you know the other parents really well, maybe playing it ethically safe here is the good call.

  205. Jodi

    Rule Breakers…Rule!

  206. cristen

    wow–it’s amazing how much people care about this question!

  207. carrien

    I am of the opinion that if you bring into the theater items that are not sold by the theater than there is nothing wrong with it. OF course, my things are often healthy…

    I’ve been known to walk in brandishing a bottle full of water and a bag full of trail mix or raw pumpkin seeds in plane view for all of them to see and daring them with my eyes to say something about it. They never do.

    Of course, I’m often pregnant when I do this, and I have a blood sugar condition to back me up.

    Anyway, I would take stuff in and pass it down once the lights are down.

  208. becky

    how about calling the theatre to see if they’ll allow you to bring in some healthier snacks, since the popcorn & candy aren’t good for braces?

    and i’ll cop to sneaking in water. but that’s all i’ll cop to.

  209. Chris

    If it were only your own kids, you could break the rules secure in the knowledge it was only your own children who would suffer if you got hauled off to The Big House. If it’s a bunch of kids? I wouldn’t risk it purely on pragmatic grounds. ;)

  210. carson

    Is there an actual rule about this? I haven’t ever noticed a “NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINKS” sign. And we used to pop our own corn and bring the kool aid.

  211. Gypsy Jane

    Lots of Food For Thought. I would check with the manager – what the rules really are and if special permission/discounts would be available. If I could carry food in openly, I would. If I had to hide it, I wouldn’t. But my concern is why we feel obligated to feed children what is essentially Not Food and terribly unhealthy because we love them and want to celebrate something. And why no one in America can go 2-3 hours without eating. Eat before and after, skip the poison-snacks entirely. Have them each freeze their own ice cream later by the zipper bag method (on my blog). They’ll have a blast.

  212. LiteralDan

    After working in a movie theater for several years, I’ve been on both sides of the coin, and let me assure you, food is the only place theaters make any money. Rising ticket prices are due to financial waste in Hollywood, and the only time the theater gets more than a few cents of the ticket price is after a movie has been out for a long time.

    We were Outside Food Nazis back then, but then like now I personally broke the rule, because I’m cheap, and because I don’t usually want any of the food they serve. For a party of impressionable kids, though, I support the “feeding beforehand” idea, or alternatively, the “it’s a birthday party, let’s suck it up” idea, depending on the expense of the party overall.

    Hope the party was fun!

  213. Elizabeth S.

    Better late than never, right? lol

    Burgh Baby’s Mom says:
    Call the theatre. If you talk to the manager, you might be able to come up with a sort of compromise that results in them making a buck or two AND you saving a buck or two. You need to play up the orthodontia bit. That’s key.
    See you at the dollar store, Mir!
    April 17th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I agree with her. The manager would likely be open to such a suggestion. Our local drive-in offers this: $5 per person charge for bringing in food & drinks, but no limit to the amount. The theaters surprisingly don’t earn much from ticket sales, and rely heavily on concession income to stay in the black.

    Glad you solved your dilemma and had a great time!

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