Out in my part of the world — where Presidents vacation and dumb-ass Governors take misguided political stands on murals (fuck me) — our little theater chain has been offering healthy snack options for awhile, a “snack-pack” very similar to what the larger AMC movie chains will now be offering: A $7 bag that includes Chiquita Fruit Chipsa natural air-popped corn chips, a bottle of Dasani water, and an Odwalla Chocolate Chip Trail Mix Bar. I think the Cinemagic chain here also offers nuts and pretzels in their bag.
As an AMC spokesman remarked in a press release: “Taking this step is also great for audiences and for your business, because people want to see healthier foods in theaters, and when they do, they’ll buy them.”
Uh. No they won’t. In all the time that it’s been available, I’ve never once purchased the healthier option. It’s not because I’d rather have the salt-lick stale popcorn covered in yellow petroleum sludge, either. It’s because the “healthy” snack options, while containing a fraction of the calories, are still no more appetizing than the artery cloggers. Does anyone really want air-popped corn chips and a bottle of water?
The problem with theater concessions is not entirely healthy vs. death-by-heart-rupture — it’s about offering something substantive. How many people running late end up at the theater looking to substitute a meal with popcorn only to walk out of the movie 2200 calories heavier and still hungry? Is that gravel-tasting Odwalla bar really going to satiate that hunger?
Theater chains have to stop limiting their options to things I can buy at 25 percent the cost at a gas-station convenience store. I’m not looking for a meal meal — a lot of these theater chains already offer crappy personal pan pizzas and chicken fingers, if you’re willing to stand at the concession stand and wait for 20 minutes and then ask the guy sitting next to you to hold your shitty pizza while you take off your jacket. If I’m going to pay $14 for a snack and a beverage, it’d be nice to have the option of something I want to eat, not something I choose because there’s nothing better available. The options available in a Starbucks glass case, for instance, would suit me just fine: A bagel or a plastic-wrapped sandwich or a scone or one of those little pound cakes. How about a cupcake? Nothing fancy, just something with taste that falls somewhere in the middle between eating dirt and eating sludge. How about some fucking Sun Chips? Or some Pirate’s Booty? Or cheese and crackers? Or, here’s an idea: How about a fucking apple? You can buy an apple for a dime and resell it for a $1.50, and a proper theater chain could go through 300 of those a day.
What I’m saying is: If you’re going to offer “healthy” options, offer something we also want to eat. Because if I go into a theater, even if I’m not hungry, I’m going to take one look at that Odwalla Bar and buy the three-gallon box of Reese’s Pieces purely out of spite because those Odwalla Bars are judgmental little shits. And I hate judgmental food.