Junk Food Jubilee: A Matinee Excursion
Last weekend, I went to the movies with a close friend, and while in line waiting to order snacks, he turned to me and said, “If we were in New York, we wouldn’t be able to upsize our drink or our popcorn.”
I nodded in agreement, surprised he had thought of that on our way into a show. But he was right, and as I began to think about it, we reached the front of the line. “Can I help you?” the attendant asked with a bored look on her face.
“We’ll take the number one combo,” my friend replied, purchasing for a large soda and large popcorn for the two of us to share.
“Would you like to make that an extra large for just one dollar more?” she asked.
My friend turned to me and winked. Then he responded, “It’s already large enough, don’t you think?”
Rather than laughing or even ignoring the comment, she shrugged with an air of insolence. “Some people don’t think so” she responded sardonically.
Once our drink was filled, she looked at me and said, “Would you like butter on your popcorn?”
Even after I declined butter, she wasn’t finished with us yet. “Because you ordered a combo,” she said, “you can get one of these boxes of candy for just a dollar.” She pointed to a small display of Raisinets, Sour Patch Kids, and other candies on the counter.
My friend, seeing the glazed look on my face by now, shook his head and scooted us away from the counter, much to my relief. Without another word, we entered the theater and settled in for the show.
Temptation Is Everywhere
Later, I realized the enormous amount of temptation that’s everywhere, all around us like blankets on a cold, winter night. Going to a Saturday matinee is no longer a simple affair in which you grab your tickets and order a container of popcorn and soft drink for nibbling. This excursion now involves an onslaught of questions intended to defeat your will and put you smack in the middle of a junk food haven.
I remember sitting in the theater, while the advertisements were rolling before the show began, looking around and hearing as well as seeing the people around us munching carelessly on pretzels, pizza and, yes, popcorn. As if the menu wasn’t long enough with its choices of sodas, frozen soft drinks, and flavored waters, guests can even order alcoholic beverages to complement their food.
It’s no wonder our bodies have become toxic wastelands. At restaurants, patrons can order three-course dinners for $9.99 that include dessert, while other places offer discounted appetizers at certain times of the day, and still others run meal specials that include choice of soup or salad, bread and entrée with two or three sides. We can no longer order simply, asking for nothing more than what we need. Instead, dining experiences have turned into events that tantalize and fulfill our every wish (at least where food is concerned).
I don’t know if New York is onto something or not by trying to limit citizens’ intake of high-calorie beverages. The problem seems to have escalated beyond this intended soltuion. Taking away these options will likely make junk food addicts only crave them more. We need wholesale changes to our frames of mind to understand the difference between snacks and meals - eating enough to fuel our bodies and gorging ourselves into a food coma.
I know I certainly need to re-think the way I look at food; perhaps it is time for the outside world to help with this endeavor. This would mean cinema employees giving me only what I ask for, without trying to load me up with even more food by suggesting it only costs “one dollar.”