In the history of cinema, a peculiar ban once prevailed: the prohibition of popcorn within movie theaters. Popcorn’s roots stretch back surprisingly far, over 8,000 years, but it was in the mid-1800s that it gained popularity on American streets.
In those days, attending the movies was an affair of the elite, reserved for the educated who could read, complete with coat checks and a sophisticated atmosphere. Yet, the absence of a concession stand left a void that popcorn street vendors eagerly filled. Patrons waiting for their movies indulged in the irresistible scent, secretly smuggling their snacks inside.
This led to theaters politely requesting popcorn inspections at the entrance. However, the turning point came in 1927 with the introduction of sound in films, democratizing cinema. The Great Depression further fueled this phenomenon, as movies offered an affordable escape.
The result? Cinemas became bustling hubs, where the joy of popcorn crunching didn’t disrupt the sound but presented an opportunity for theater owners to boost revenue. By 1945, more than half of America’s popcorn consumption happened within the confines of movie theaters. Thus, a cinematic tradition was born, one that endures to this day.
Top image: Popcorn in a movie theater. Source: Michael / Adobe Stock.