Food Showdown: Battle of the Movie Theater Snacks!


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  62 comments   :  38,989 Views

Who doesn't love the movies...and the movie theater snacks? It's hard to resist the colorful candy packages and smell of fresh popcorn wafting through the air. But for the calorie conscious, which of these salty snacks is the better choice: the light-as-air popcorn or the crunchy nacho chips dipped in gooey cheese?

Can you guess the salty theater snack that will do the least damage to your waistline?

The Winner: Nachos!

The average serving of movie theater nachos (about 30 chips plus cheese sauce) contains 554 calories and 44 grams of fat.  If you planned for the treat and split it with your movie date, you won't walk away with too much damage.  However, the medium popcorn from the theater packs more than 1,100 calories and an artery-clogging 90 grams of fat (138% of your daily value).  Of course, you'd do best to avoid the snack bar completely or bring your own healthy choices, such as bottled water, pretzels, or bite-size raw veggies.


What's your favorite movie theater snack?

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  • SUNSET09
    The movie popcorn with jalapeno peppers (no salt!) and a Diet drink. My favorite and guilty pleasure! - 12/25/2017   1:18:09 AM
  • 61
    Our theater lets you butter your own popcorn. But I avoid it. I bring some almonds. - 11/19/2017   10:39:06 PM
    I bring my own light popcorn in- without guilt. I have a special bag (no noisy paper) that I put it in. Then I put it in my over-the-shoulder treat purse/bag. I compromise by purchasing a diet drink. - 7/4/2017   8:32:03 AM
  • 59
    Nachos seriously... - 6/4/2017   4:33:49 PM
    I try to eat a healthy BEFORE I go to the movies. Save money & weight gain! - 3/17/2012   10:35:18 PM
  • 57
    Sometimes, it's to h*ll with the fat and calories, and going to the movies is one of those times. That said, the last movie I went to was the most recent Harry Potter, and the next will be The Hunger Games, so I certainly don't overdo it on movie popcorn. - 3/11/2012   11:01:46 AM
  • 56
    After going to the movies and sharing a large popcorn, coming home and putting it in my tracker, I will NEVER eat popcorn at the movies again. So this was no surprise to me. I'll stick with my 100 calorie bags at home - 3/7/2012   8:43:13 PM
  • 55
    Ok, I LOVE movie theater popcorn WITH the butter. yum yum!

    I usually go 2x a year (Twilight, 2 c Robert Pattinson on the large screen, so it will be my last trip this Nov). I go before noon to get the cheapest price. If I buy popcorn, I buy the large because you get a free refill. I get the refill and take it home and eat that over 4-5 days, since the large will "popcorn me out".

    Since I am trying not to drink soda, I take my thermos filled with water, and usually some Dr. Pepper Jelly Bellies for something sweet.

    Curious, am I the only Sparkperson to buy a large popcorn? - 3/7/2012   3:09:47 PM
    I stopped getting Dailey sparks food showdown
    and don't know why. I don't know how to get them back. Help! - 3/6/2012   3:05:15 PM
  • 53
    I agree with anyone that says," Why does a movie theatre have to spoil the popcorn which could be a very healthy snack with all the butter?" It doesn't even taste good that way and it makes it so unhealthy for everyone. - 3/6/2012   12:29:53 PM
  • 52
    I love popcorn and usually have a bag as a nightly snack. The last time I went, to the movies,however, I brought a granola bar and almost begged for a few from my sister but resisted. It was smelling good and she had peppers on it, lol. I have always brought a snack into the movies, they do not have to know what is in your bag, lol. It would be a bit much to bring a meal but a non-smelling snack should be acceptable. - 3/6/2012   12:19:51 PM
  • 51
    It's not a useful comparison for me if you don't mention whether the popcorn is buttered (which I assume it is). I wouldn't eat the nachos in any case (cheese sauce doesn't appeal to me), but I can't believe that a medium unbuttered popcorn, even oil-popped, is over 1100 calories. - 3/6/2012   12:14:41 PM
  • 50
    Nachos has always been my favorite at the movie theater! I rarely get it, but it's my top choice. Now I usually try to eat at least a snack before going to the theater and just bring a bottle of water. - 3/6/2012   11:16:22 AM
  • 49
    It makes me very angry that a healthy snack like popcorn is ruined by the way it is prepared. So for this reason, I do not feel bad taking in my own snacks. Do they give us a choice? If I could select something that was not so calorie laden then I would buy it there. - 3/5/2012   5:41:51 PM
  • 48
    Wow, I can't believe how many people love popcorn! I'm glad that my favorite snack is nachos, but usually I just drink water throughout the movie... - 3/5/2012   4:32:20 PM
  • 47
    I picked nachos because I LOVE nachos, but I don't believe I've ever gotten them at the movies. I'm averaging one movie every 18 months or so, so I suppose I could splurge if I felt like it. I'm more likely to get a nacho craving and hit the 7-Eleven, though! - 3/5/2012   2:57:38 PM
  • 46
    I get a child's size which clocks in at about 250 calories. Since I only go to the movies a few times a year, I'm going to enjoy the experience and not fret about what's in the popcorn. - 3/5/2012   9:11:54 AM
  • 45
    Yay! I love the popcorn but super excited that I can eat the nachos! - 3/5/2012   8:31:06 AM
  • 44
    I guess I'll have to give up popcorn. I never realized it was so bad. I don't put any butter on it. - 3/5/2012   5:43:36 AM
  • 43
    We eat before going to the movies that way we're not hungry.
    - 3/4/2012   9:29:59 PM
  • 42
    I love the popcorn but eat it only on a rare occasion now. It's not only the butter but the popping oil that is high in calories and unhealthy fat. I try to eat before or shortly after a movie and drink a diet drink to hold me over. - 3/4/2012   5:52:51 PM
  • 41
    Craisins! I love Craisins, and they're just tart enough that I CAN'T overeat them.
    - 3/4/2012   5:15:09 PM
    Unfortunately I find the popcorn to be more enjoyable most of the time. I'll continue to use the butter salt and try to compensate for it. - 3/4/2012   4:56:00 PM
  • 39
    I always avoided Nachos and took the popcorn with some guilt anyway but still for a snack 554 calories is way too much for me! - 3/4/2012   4:36:39 PM
  • 38
    I don't eat snacks at the movies, nor do I drink anything. I don't want to leave the movie to use the bathroom. LOL - 3/4/2012   4:03:37 PM
  • 37
    good cause i love nachos! - 3/4/2012   2:49:56 PM
  • 36
    For the few times I go I just get popcorn because it is enjoyable. That said I see a movie in theaters about once every two or three years. I also make a point to eat before I go to the movies so getting a snack doesn't feel like a life or death situation. - 3/4/2012   2:46:59 PM
  • 35
    You really dropped the ball on this one. I have to say that this is the first time I have felt this way, too. Bring your own snacks? You're encouraging us to break the rules? There is a reason there are MULTIPLE signs that say you cannot bring any outside food or drink into theaters. Don't encourage us to circumvent those rules, regardless of our feelings on them. They are established and should not be ignored. - 3/4/2012   2:17:31 PM
    I used to take popcorn but now either just water, or a packet of lightly salted peanuts. - 3/4/2012   10:17:28 AM
    Holy Cow...1100 calories in the popcorn and 90 g of fat? Before I started counting calories a large popcorn at the theater was a "have to have" along with a diet coke....yikes not any more...I am on a 1500 calorie limit the popcorn would just about be my whole day. - 3/4/2012   8:11:50 AM
  • 32
    I don't go to the movies very often, but I do like to treat myself to some popcorn when I go. It's all about moderation and fitting it into your calorie budge for the day, in my opinion.

    I also wanted to say that I used to work in a movie theater, and there IS a reason concession items are so expensive. It costs a LOT for a theater to show a movie. Theaters make very little money from ticket sales, so the concession stand is really the only place for them to make any kind of profit so they can pay their workers. I agree, the prices are high, but there is a reason for it. If you like going to the movies, consider spending some money to support the theater so it can remain open. If everyone starts bringing outside food and drinks, the theater won't stay open for very long. - 3/4/2012   8:08:13 AM
  • 31
    I have not been to a movie theater for over 20 years. When I was a child a 10 cent box of popcorn was the usual treat but I expect those days are over! - 3/4/2012   8:03:59 AM
    I usually bring my own heathy snack, however, this is helpful IF a choice has to be made. - 3/4/2012   7:44:40 AM
  • 123ELAINE456
    I have not been to a movies for years. If I did go I would bring a Diet Pepsi and candy bar. I would not pay their prices at the ceccession stand at the movies. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. - 3/4/2012   7:09:43 AM
  • 28
    I BYOS aka bring my own snacks and not because I'm trying to be health conscious. It's because I object to the prices theatres charge for snacks !!! Have you seen the price for a small ??? It's like four bucks ! Sheesh, I'm not paying that kind of money for stale popcorn topped with that penzoil they call butter.

    - 3/4/2012   6:29:06 AM
    Ooooo, feel guilty after last nite! And we go once a week. I like the edamame idea and the hot pretzel idea. And I better Come Up with a plan since we go to the movies once a week! If you go to an early show or a budget cinema, you can afford to go! - 3/4/2012   5:07:04 AM
  • 26
    I don't like Nachos. My husband and I only go out to the movies once every 2 years-we watch it on demand on Cable TV. We will eat plain, unbuttered and unsalted popcorn that we would bring-neither of us can have salt. - 3/4/2012   5:04:47 AM
    Oh well don't like nachos. - 3/4/2012   5:00:04 AM
  • 24
    Geez, who can afford to go to the movies, way too expensive!! - 3/3/2012   11:56:56 PM
  • 23
    I Don't Eat That Food At The Movie, Especially after I saw a DOC. on "Food At The Movies" and what had crawled in the popcorn bin, and I want mention what was going on in the rest of the open foods and drink machine.
    I just eat a snack before going to the movies or shopping this way I want be tempted but if I need to eat something I just bring me some water and hard candy. - 3/3/2012   10:17:04 PM
  • 22
    I always thought you were not allowed to bring outside food - 3/3/2012   9:44:06 PM
  • 21
    I rarely go to the theater to see movies for several reasons...most often, I've no one to accompany me; I don't like movie theater patron chatter; and I have an awesome home theater set-up. When I do go, I never order snacks...mostly because, similar to the patron chatter, I don't like to hear the own crunching in my ears over the movie soundtrack...and I'm a bit more thrifty than that, since theater-provided snacks have a 1000% mark-up (think popcorn, and how cheaply you can buy a bag of it at the grocery). - 3/3/2012   8:32:35 PM
  • MRE1956
    Should have had one other option - "I DON'T GO TO MOVIES" - and I DON'T! :( - 3/3/2012   7:39:00 PM
  • 19
    I am frugal so I get DVD's from the library, and have some "small" size microwave popcorn at home. - 3/3/2012   7:04:49 PM
  • 18
    I do so love movie theater popcorn. Maybe that's why I only see 1 movie a year. - 3/3/2012   5:50:11 PM
  • 17
    I love popcorn, but I eat it at home. We hardly ever eat at the movies. We usually have dinner first , then a movie. Who wants to eat again that soon. - 3/3/2012   5:41:18 PM
  • 16
    I love popcorn but recently started taking edamame in the shell (zapped in the microwave to thaw and with a little sea salt) with me to the movies. I get the same nibbling satisfaction but much healthier! - 3/3/2012   5:15:53 PM
    I also thought the nachos had more calories than the popcorn; and I love movie popcorn. I guess I'll pop my own and put it in a ziplock bag. - 3/3/2012   5:08:46 PM
  • 14
    I don't buy snacks at the movies... I am too cheap. - 3/3/2012   5:03:45 PM
  • 13
    Well, that is that! New strategy coming up for the theater...1,100 calories and 90 grams of fat! Yikes! And splitting the nachos to end up with 250+ calories...? We often bring water bottles. We'll be bringing our own snacks from now on! - 3/3/2012   4:44:45 PM

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