The Reason Why Popcorn is Associated with Movies has Something to Do with World War II

Last Updated on 2021-02-16 , 12:07 pm

Going to the cinemas and watching a movie is a common way of spending our time that almost all of us have experienced.

Whenever we visit the theatres, we would usually have in hand a tub of popcorn and drinks.

Although cinema popcorn is just so damn overpriced, we can’t stop ourselves from getting it.

After all, most of us would know that cinema operators earn money primarily from these snacks and not from box office sales.

Just helping them out, you know.

But did you know that there’s actually a story behind how popcorn and movie became almost synonymous with each other?

It all started in America in the early 1900s.

Today, popcorn might be considered a “luxurious good” but back in a time when fish and lions married each other, it was created for a practical reason.

The discovery of popcorn was actually in Chile, but the Americans popularised this snack after bringing it back to New England.

Popcorn soon became super popular at fairs and carnivals, due to its super-low costs. After all, all you needed were corn kernels, sugar, salt and oil after you invested in a popcorn machine.

However, the made-in-heaven pairing of popcorn and movies only came about during the Great Depression.

Many Americans were too poor to afford leisure activities such as concerts or shopping, thus preferring to visit the theatres as a low-cost way of spending their time and entertaining themselves.

However, the theatres were also making very low profits on the movie-screening.

The invention of movies with sounds made it possible to cover up the noise of crunching popcorn.

Hence, to make more money, they introduced popcorn as a movie snack and made high profits from it.

Cheap Corn

At that period of time, corn was one of the cheapest crops in America due to its “Corn Belt” located in the states of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Therefore, due to the large supply, prices of corn were all kept fairly low and the theatres could make high profits from the low costs involved in making popcorn.

Even after the Great Depression, WWII also made sugar very expensive to import as the Philippines stopped their exports to America.

So other snacks like sweets and candy floss slowly lost their popularity to popcorn, seeing that corn was still as cheap to buy since it was mainly still being produced in America itself.

Until now, popcorn still remains the best snack to accompany us during movies.

Just take a look at this vintage video from 1900s America, where the theatres were trying to promote popcorn!

So if you’re watching Hua Mulan, the movie which made many people angry, remember: the history of the popcorn you’ve bought is just as interesting as the history of the female soldier.

Featured Image: Zoriana Zaitseva /