State of the Popcorn Address

By Mir
April 19, 2008

Friends, Readers, Bloggyfolk:

I apologize for the delay in bringing you both the status update and the scientific results for which you have so patiently waited. We realize that some of you—we’re not naming any names, but consider investing in a hobby, is all we’re saying—have been on the edge of your seat, just wanting, nay, NEEDING to know the conclusion to the movie theater snacks dilemma wherein one family (us) struggled with finding a gameplan that could harmoniously unite ethics, thriftiness, and a wild party for a small group of children.

Before I launch into our report I’d just like to say that I love how sometimes the comment section turns into a giant game of “telephone.” Someone mentioned me taking a dozen girls to the theater and suddenly everyone was going on and on about the “large group of children” we’d be taking, and I giggled and giggled, because: 3. We took three extra children.

(And just so you know, all five children were perfectly well-behaved.)

Let’s first examine the responses to my query to see what the public had to say about it all. As of this writing, there were 200-something responses, but various comments were either additional thoughts from the same respondent, or somehow didn’t express any sort of opinion. Therefore our sample size was 187 usable comments for our study.

The breakdown was as follows:

41% of you said DO NOT BREAK THE RULES, buy from the theater. You were the majority and are also morally upright. Well, mostly. We’ll get into that in a minute. Regardless: Congratulations!

25% of you said BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS AND SCREW THE MAN, or something like that. As a group I am attracted to you, but also a little scared.

13% of you said BRING SOME SNACKS AND BUY SOME SNACKS, sticking to the time-honored tradition of splitting the difference in an effort to make everyone happy. If you’re in this group, consider yourself a people-pleaser.

10% of you hemmed and hawed and were basically on the fence. Some might call you spineless but I prefer to call you humanists.

9% of you said DON’T EAT ANYTHING AT THE THEATER, which would neatly sidestep the problem altogether. You think outside of the box and also have very pretty teeth.

1% of you said WATCH A DVD AT HOME, which was a point well taken except that, well, we’d already invited the kids to the movies.

[Yes, I realize that only adds up to 99%. Rounding error! Just another side effect of having a weak moral compass!]

Now, at first glance you might think that these statistics are encouraging. Nearly half of my readers are morally upright! A quarter are rebels! Aren’t we a well-balanced group? Indeed. But there’s just this one funny little thing I feel the need to point out, here.

Of the 41% who insisted we adhere to the letter of the law, 23% overall, or 56% of that subset of you said that it was okay to break the rules with just MY children, but because OTHER kids were involved, I shouldn’t. One of my commenters pointed out that she was disturbed by this notion that I bear less responsibility to my own offspring than to someone else’s, and I have to say I agree. That SO MANY of you insisted I was free to break the rules with my own family but not with other people’s kids was FASCINATING to me. Truly. I mean, I sort of understand the reasoning but I also think it’s a little twisted.

I also had a commenter who called out my concern about orthodontia as “a smokescreen” and said that “everyone can have Junior Mints.” So for the record I would like it noted that this theater doesn’t carry Junior Mints. Freakish, I know, but I LOOKED and they don’t stock them. Today’s kids don’t understand the value of a Junior Mint, I suspect. Also, after YOU’VE spent several thousands of dollars on some pieces of wire, you let me know if wanting to keep said wires (which are surely forged of platinum, given the price) intact is “a smokescreen” or “common sense.” Thanks! Anyway.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for—what did we do?

I did purchase candy necklaces for the kids at the Dollar Store, because Chickadee was freakishly fixated on having them, and they do not sell them at the theater. In addition, we bought three boxes of candy (for the five kids to share) and a small popcorn (for me and Otto) from the concession counter at the movies. I made Otto buy the food because the thought of even looking at the total made me a little lightheaded.

For the record there is no signage of any kind at the theater indicating that outside food is not allowed.

And then we went into the theater and counting our party of 7 there were 9 people there to see the film. We were not ejected due to our contraband necklaces, and a grand time was had by all.

Afterwards we came home and played and made pizzas and ate cake and ice cream, and I think it’s safe to say that it was pretty much a festival of gluttony.

I hope that this report has put your minds at ease, and furthermore I hope that your future is filled with the snack of your choice. Thank you, and goodnight!


  1. Shari

    How was Chickie? Did she have any encounters with the invisible boy? How did Monkey handle the spotlight on the birthday girl?

  2. Shari

    Great. I’m the first commenter and I sound like I am an insatiable stalker. Nevermind. As you were. LOL

  3. April

    Well, if there was no signage, then no rule-breaking, right? I went to the movies last night and noticed a big old sign about it (which I may not have had it not been for the discussion).

    I’m glad a good time was had by all!

  4. Cheryl

    I’m glad you had a great time. And that there weren’t any signs in the theater.

    And because the one question you didn’t answer is the one I wondered the most: would the parents of the children you took have cared about you breaking the potential “no outside” rules (that apparently existed only in the minds of the 187 of us who replied as well as you and Otto).

  5. sophie

    I did not weigh in on the controversy, but I am so glad everything went well.

    (For the record, I think bringing food in is okay. There are RULES and rules, and I think kids are wise enough to figure it out.)

  6. StephLove

    So, inquiring minds want to know– what movie did you see? Was it any good? I took my almost 7 y/o to see Horton Hears a Who a couple weeks back, but we have trouble finding age appropriate films for him in the theater, so we mostly rent older G-rated movies. I know your crew’s a bit older, but I thought I’d ask.

    For what it’s worth, we bought popcorn, lemonade and water and snuck black licorice in. I guess I’m one of those split-the difference people-pleasers.

    I’m glad you had fun!

  7. Heidi

    Hey, I have pretty teeth!

  8. Karen

    Thanks Mir. Now I can sleep tonight.

  9. Mom101

    Oh my Gawd, one more life-and-death decision as a parent that they do not warn you about in Lamaze class. Glad to know that I’m ethically challenged, per your readers.

  10. mike golch

    Mir,thanks for telling me i’m part of the one percent.

  11. Flea

    I don’t remember how I weighed in, but you can bet I’ll go back and find out. Whatever I said, I stand by it. So there. :) I’m usually a rule follower, unless the rule makes no sense. Yes, I’m ethically challenged. Which is why I’m working on a masters in theology.

  12. Kris

    Yeah, I want to know more about the strategic placement of herself next to Da Boy and whether or not he yawned and stretched during the movie. Hee hee….

  13. Crisanne

    Glad to hear you had a nice time. One funny thing I noticed in the few (maybe 20) comments I read was how many suggested buying the candy ahead of time, but then pretending that you bought it at the theater = LYING to your kids! :) Murphey’s Law would surely strike me for that one-like the whole theater would be out of candy except somehow I had the only candy in the place.

    Candy necklaces are so good. I’m relieved to hear that 10 yr olds aren’t too cool for them yet.

  14. donna

    I’m not sure which side of the fence I was tottling on; but I’m incredibly impressed that you sat down and crunched all those numbers.
    By the looks of these commments (mine included) a post on Chickadee’s boy encounter is coming?

  15. transplanting me

    at this too-late-to-matter time i would like to change my vote. armed with the knowledge that there is no signage – i now say, buy all the candy you can carry at the dollar store and carry it in!!

  16. Lauren

    Sounds like a very happy birthday.

  17. LuAnn

    Candy necklaces…wow, that takes me back. (I write this with a box of Mini Charleston Chews in front of me. *lol*)

  18. Tina


    It IS a little twisted, but perfectly understandable. I remember chaperoning field trips and being far more terrified of losing someone else’s kid than one of my own. In fact, when I accompanied my son’s kindergarten class to the zoo, I was watching his classmates so intently I didn’t realize my own kid was still observing the giant tortoises making babies long after we had moved on to the hippos. He’s almost 20 now and still hasn’t forgiven me.

    I hated those Spring field trips to the zoo. Too many randy animals and curious children.

    Kids: “Lady, what are they DOING?”
    Me: “Ask your teacher, kids. I’m just a chaperone.”

  19. Shannon

    I think…no sign, no rule, there no rule breaking. But in any case you dodged it because candy necklaces are clearly apparel.

  20. arduous

    What I want to know is, how long did it take you to do all that math breaking down the commenters! ;) That was mad impressive, Mir.

  21. Dee

    Hahaha, this was great. Another internet issue blown out of proportion, then neatly brought down to the ground and sorted all nicely. Come to Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda for a rollercoaster of opinions!

    I turned out both a people-pleaser and a scary rebel, which might not seem like it makes sense but is pretty accurate.

  22. Brigitte

    That’ll teach YOU to ask us our opinion! :-D

    I enjoy being described as “a little twisted”, thank you.

  23. Leanne

    I wonder if thoughts about our comments swirled around in your brain all afternoon? Was guilt involved? Did you have second or third, or fourth thoughts about the necklaces and decide to let that 25% of supporters yell louder than those of us with a moral compass? Just curious.

    And Shannon is right. If you’re WEARING the candy, it is not like ripping a bag open and shoving it in. It’s part of the ensemble, which they clearly allowed in the door.

  24. Sara

    I did not comment on that post, but I find the results fascinating and this post hilarious. Glad Chickie’s birthday was a success. Carry on.

  25. ChristieNY

    Glad Chickie’s party was fabulous!

    I can’t wait to hear if anything happened between her and the invisible crush! :D

  26. hollygee

    Have Chickie and her friend dyed their hair pink? We also haven’t had a report back on that issue. We need to know this too!

  27. Randi

    I think outside the box and have pretty teeth! Sweet!!! I’m just glad a good time was had by all!

  28. Natalie

    I thought we were allowed to bring outside food in–as it would constitute a monopoly within the movie theater. Isn’t that why they can’t post signs anymore about not bringing outside food in? Am I just crazy to think this?

  29. LiteralDan

    Glad things went well, and that you weren’t carted off in handcuffs (maybe candy-laced cuffs would have been appropriate?)

    You can console yourself with the thought that you bought fairly-priced candy and popcorn, and made a mandatory donation to the welfare of a bunch of nerdy teenagers. Does that ease the sting a bit?

  30. All Adither

    So you really do listen to what we say…huh.

  31. Jodi

    Too funny that there was no sign….LOL
    I guess in my mind there are rules for safety and then there are rules posted for other reasons. The only reason some of the theatres have rules against bringing in outside food is so that they can make more money on their concessions…so that’s a stupid rule…and stupid rules are just lying there to be broken…rebel, rebel.

  32. Erin

    I didn’t give my two cents earlier, but I will now. Rules should be obeyed unless the rules are stupid. Or in the case of movie theater prices, they should be ignored if the institution who arbitrarily institutes said stupid rules are in the market of extortion and racketeering. And can anyone give evidence that they aren’t?

    As a poor college student, I had to promise my left kidney and my first born child to gain admittance to the theater for a date last week.

  33. The Other Leanne

    “We realize that some of you—we’re not naming any names, but consider investing in a hobby, is all we’re saying…”

    What makes you think this ISN’T my hobby?

  34. jennielynn

    I know I really, really need to get a life, but something is kind of nagging at me. What movie did you see?

    Getting a life now.

  35. Cassie

    I think you pulled it off rather well. Good job super mom! :)

    I agree that it’s pretty funny that there was no sign. But, seriously, what movie theater doesn’t have junior mints OR a sign saying not to bring in outside food?!? I bet too many people were smuggling junior mints, so they just took down the signs, took them out of the concession and gave up.

  36. Daisy

    This brings back a college memory. We were popping popcorn in the dorm to bring to a movie (on campus, it was allowed!), and we managed to blow a fuse by running too many poppers. Remember popcorn poppers, folks? This was pre-microwave era.
    We didn’t tell the R.A. how it happened. I think she guessed, though.

  37. Megan

    MMMMMMMM candy necklaces. Fifteen minutes of sugar crunching and then nothing but a cold, soggy, slightly sticky elastic around your neck. It just doesn’t get more styling than that. Of course these were candy necklaces OF SIN!!!

  38. Kimmers

    Just found your site today, and I’m hooked already! Some of my bored at work hours will be spent perusing your archives. :) For the record, my too-late-to-matter take on the Great Movie Debate is HELL YEAH you bring your own snacks to the movie… buying snacks there is for rich folk who can’t think of better ways to burn $20! JK… but honestly, after $10 a ticket just to get into the damn movie, I feel pretty guilt-free when I toss a bag of gummy bears in my purse before we go.

  39. Sue

    Thank God you didn’t ask us about your taxes!

  40. saucygrrl

    My good lord! How does this theater not sell Junior Mints!? That’s criminal!

  41. Vane

    Glad to hear the party was a success :)

  42. Dee

    Hahaha, Sue, that’s golden.

  43. SoMo

    I want to change my vote. I what to be in the “SCREW THE MAN” camp and then bring all the kids to a convenience store robbing as laginappe.

    Now, I am going to slink away, because I am embarrassed to be all caught of in this.

    And I would like to tell everyone that I will protesting the non-selling of Sno-caps at my local theater. Because while we may be able to live without Junior Mints (Whatever happened to Sr Mints) one should never have to live without Sno-Caps.

  44. Chris

    It’s not that you bear more responsibility for other kids than for your own; it’s that you are the parent of your own, and are the one who gets to make those decisions and live with the consequences. With the other kids, we don’t have that right. See? ;)

    Anyway, I’m glad she had a good birthday and that the theater doesn’t care what you do. Saves a lot of time.

  45. prophet

    the one thing I don’t think anyone brought up is the question of just who it is who purports to be “making” the “Rules”.

    It’s a question of authority, and proper authority.

    A sign does not a rule make, not everyone is allowed to intone enforceable “rules”, and not every “rule” is equal.

    Does a sign in an airport bathroom require me to throw out any toiletries I may have in my bag, for example, just so they can force me to re-buy them, at their inflated prices? OK all you parents out there: what if the sign said: “Go jump off a cliff!”

    By the same token, does purchasing a ticket to the opera convey permission to search my person to see if I’m smuggling in my own libretto instead of paying another small fortune for a “program”? Does a convenience store get to tell me what else must buy, if I want also to buy gasoline, for example? In “Rule” form? That rather sounds like an antitrust problem. . . . (you remember antitrusts, don’t you? Like when Bill Gates requires that you buy his computer operating system if you want to buy a computer? Maybe he should have put up a sign. . . .)

    There IS such a thing as laws and rules, but there is ALSO such a thing as knowing who gets to MAKE the rules. On top of that, there’s the question of ‘bad’ rules. . . .

    Blind obedience can also be a problem – it really is a delicate balance. Think about it: how far is it from movie theatre candy policy to “private club” racial discrimination or the state-sponsored genocide during WWII? It’s all “rules”, after all. Or is it?

    What “rule” is being put forward? – by whom? – under what authority – binding whom? – and why? It’s not as simple as we might like to think. Even where only a candy bar seems to be at stake.

    “State of the Popcorn” address, indeed, Mir! It’s gratifying to see that people care enough about this to have weighed in with their thoughts.

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