I don’t go out to the movies very often, but when I do, like most of you, I like to get some food and something to drink (preferably beer) before settling in for whatever cinematic tour de force I’ve just plunked down $8 to see. Maybe that’s why an article talking about the hidden health risks of movie popcorn caught my eye. I guess from the title of the article I was expecting to learn something interesting: like Orville Redenbacher uses genetically modified kernels to get them to pop larger than their competition, or, at the very least, the chemical composition of whatever that stuff they call “movie butter” really is, but that will have to remain a secret to be unearthed another day. The big “reveal” of the article was—wait for it—that movie popcorn is fattening. While this may come as a shock to some of you—and if it does, please be careful who you talk to this coming Christmas season—I think most of us would classify this as another one of those food related “duh” moments.
Let me start by admitting, that yes, I could probably afford to lose a pound or two. And honestly, who among us can’t, particularly as we find ourselves in the midst of swimsuit season. However, do articles like this really help us chart a clearer course on the road to Svelteville? Certainly it did put some numbers behind its assertions. Did you know that a small bag of popcorn has 225 calories and 11 grams of fat? I didn’t, and you don’t even want to know the figures if you’re one of those folks who routinely partake in those tubs–that could double as wading pools–that theaters euphemistically describe as “Large”. But, other than providing some real world facts and figures that might make you consider the Junior Mints during your next trip to the snack bar, is anyone surprised by these findings? Like so many things that tantalize the human palate, popcorn is just another in a long list that falls in the ever expanding “Not healthy but delicious anyway” category.
Lately there seem to be more and more articles about the foods that we love that are really bad for us. I guess when you reach a point where half the children in your kid’s fifth grade class can’t see their feet when they stand up, people feel they have to do something. But really aren’t most of these expose’s, public service announcements and pronouncements from one medical association or another really just reinforcements for what we’ve all known for years? For example, I wasn’t not shocked the other day when the local TV station did a story about how fattening Mexican food can be. I just took another bite of my “Cheesy 5-layer Burrito” and switched the channel. Sure it wasn’t the best “bad choice” I could have made, but the Taco Bell is on my way home and Burger King isn’t. Sometimes our nutritional choices have nothing to do with calories and fat grams and everything to do with geographic convenience.
Although many of us feel that our food choices, and their effect on our waistlines, are our own business as individuals and parents, that doesn’t stop others in their increasingly bizarre efforts to save us from ourselves. For example, outlawing the prizes in McDonald’s Happy Meals will make a lot more sense to me the next time I’m behind some eight year old in a Tahoe in the drive thru lane. All these same companies had advertising targeted to children when I was a lad, but my parents were able to effectively combat their allure with the word, “No”. Apparently today’s pre-teens have developed powers of persuasion unbeknownst to us in our youth, and parents need all the help they can get in fulfilling their prescribed duties. Now these same companies have to list the calorie counts for each of their menu items so people can make more educated food decisions. Although this would seem to make some sense on the surface, is the calorie count difference really going to be the determining factor between the Meat Lovers or the Stuffed Crust Supreme the next time your stroll into Pizza Hut?
While I do appreciate the increased level of concern folks seem to have about what size pants I wear, isn’t that really nobody’s business but my own—and Mrs. Crosby, of course. Despite the constant bombardment of revelations about things that everyone already knows, why don’t we let people decide for themselves and live with the consequences? For folks that want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more, for those that don’t, don’t. But for everyone sake, please stop with the same old stories about how the foods everyone already knows are bad for us are really bad for us. Tell us about things we really need to know, like what really is in that movie butter.