Movie popcorn is delicious, especially with all that extra butter and salt. Come on. Admit it. Captivated by a great flick, you've mindlessly polished off one of those massive buckets of movie popcorn, in one sitting, all by yourself. Don't feel bad. We've all been there.
The movie theater industry certainly doesn't want you to know. And there's probably a good reason for the secrecy.
Movie Popcorn Exempt
Even though the federal government wants restaurants, retail food establishments and vending machine operators to disclose caloric information on their menus and menu boards, it's leaving its hands off movie popcorn.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's proposed menu labeling regulations, released in April 2011, apply to restaurants and "similar retail food establishments" that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations.
That means fast food joints, bakeries, coffee shops and certain grocery and convenience stores would be required to disclose caloric and nutritional information of the food they sell. The provision were mandated in the 2010 health care overhaul.
"These proposals will ensure that consumers have more information when they make their own food choices," said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier."
But what about movie popcorn, which everyone knows is laden with all kinds of fat and sodium?
Why Movie Popcorn is Exempt
The FDA exempted movie popcorn after resistance from the movie theater industry and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food, such as bowling alleys and airplanes.
"Our patrons do not go to movies intending to consume meals or otherwise satisfy nutritional requirements," the National Association of Theatre Owners said in a statement. "It is escapist entertainment. Movie theaters should be exempt from nutrition labeling legislation at the federal, state, and local level."
Still, what you don't know can hurt you. If something tastes that good, it must be bad for you.
About Movie Popcorn
In a 2009 study, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest found that a medium movie popcorn and soda was equivalent to chowing down on three McDonald's Quarter Pounders with 12 pats of butter. The movie popcorn and drink consisted of 1,610 calories and three days' worth - 60 grams - of saturated fat.
Don't say we didn't warn you.