For most people, going to the movies means buying a bucket full of artery-clogging popcorn. The Guardian is reporting on an interesting study done by researchers from Cologne University that suggests that eating popcorn might make you immune from desiring the sodas, cell phones, and cars that are advertised before the movie starts.

Apparently, our mouths have a subconscious (who knew?). When we see an advertisement, our “lips and the tongue automatically simulate the pronunciation of a new name when we first hear it.” Every time we hear it after that, our mouths practice it again. Chewing popcorn, or anything else, prevents our mouths from simulating the pronunciation. The imprint that the advertisers hope is left on our brain doesn’t happen.

Researchers tested a group in a movie theater. They gave half the group popcorn and the other half sugar cubes. The half that had consumed the popcorn during the advertisements showed that the ads had no effect on them. The half that simply had a sugar cube dissolve in their mouths “showed positive psychological responses to the products they had encountered in the ads.”

If this is true, advertisers that pay big bucks to run a commercial for their products before a film, and perhaps placing products within movies, will be rethinking their strategies. One of the researchers even suggested that their findings could mean the end of popcorn and other snacks at the movies.

I’m skeptical about that. Theaters make a lot of money from the overpriced snacks, especially popcorn. And really, for me, munching on the popcorn (yes, I buy the artery-clogging stuff at the theater, but always pop my own on the stove at home) is one of the things that makes sitting through those ads bearable. I don’t think that moviegoers would be open to having their snacks taken away by the advertisers.

Here’s something else to think about. This certainly isn’t just a phenomenon that happens while watching a movie at the theater. We’re told that it’s bad to sit on the couch and eat while we watch TV. But, could providing something healthy for kids to snack on, like crunchy carrots or stove-popped popcorn, make them less likely to beg for the latest popular toy or even a sugar-laden cereal? Hmmmmm ...

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Popcorn gives you immunity to movie ads
Chewing popcorn, or anything else, disturbs the processing of advertising messages, making them ineffective.