Have you ever snuck your own snacks into the movie theater? Come on. Be honest. Why did you do it? Was it because you wanted to save money? Was it because their grandmother gave each of your children a huge bag of M&M’s for Easter, and you figured it would be better for them to eat some of that at the theater instead of adding a box of Milk Duds to the bag of M&M’s? (Oh, wait, that would be my family.)

Or, could it possibly be because you wanted something healthy to eat at the movie theater?

Movie theater popcorn is artery-clogging and over-the-top high in sodium. Sodas are full of empty calories, suspicious food dyes and high fructose corn syrup. Candy is, well ... it’s candy. Nothing is healthy about the three staples of movie theater snacking.

Hollywood News reports that Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Pictures, announced that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation — an organization that includes former President Bill Clinton and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — wants to meet with theater owners to “offer advice on how to change your menus in a way that makes sense for your audiences and your business.” He made the announcement at at ShoWest, the nation’s largest convention for the movie theater industry.

Clinton said he would like to see the movie industry follow in the footsteps of the beverage industry, which took voluntary steps to encourage healthier lifestyles. He said:

The Alliance brokered voluntary agreements with the beverage industry that resulted in an 88 percent decrease in beverage calories shipped to America’s schools in just a few years. We are eager to work with the movie theater industry to craft similar agreements to provide healthy concession options in movie theaters. 
Sony Pictures polled moviegoers about healthier snacks and Lynton says the results of the poll give the company a reason to urge theater owners to up the health factor at the concession stands.
  • two-thirds of moviegoers and three-quarters of parents are more likely to buy healthy snacks at theaters if they are offered
  • 42 percent of parents said they would buy concessions more often if healthy options were available
  • 60 percent of parents said having healthier snacks in theaters would enhance their overall moviegoing experience
Fresh fruit, fruit cups, apples or veggies with dip, yogurt, granola bars, trail mix, baked chips and unbuttered, air-popped popcorn are some of the healthier snacks suggested by those polled.

Personally, I’d like to see healthier snacks served at movie theaters alongside of the traditional snacks. I’d certainly order a bag of air-popped popcorn instead of the bright yellow greasy stuff they currently sell. The healthy food would have to be competitively priced with the traditional food, though. There’s an upscale theater by me that sells small bags of air-popped popcorn that cost far more than the popcorn popped at the theater, and I’ve never bought it because of the price tag. Concession stand snacks are expensive enough already. If the healthier options are priced above the traditional, few people will buy them.

Would you buy healthy snacks at the movies? What products would you like to see available? 

MNN homepage photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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

President Clinton wants healthier movie theater snacks
What would you like to see for sale instead of artery-clogging buttered popcorn?