What Makes Movie Popcorn Taste Different Than Regular Popcorn?

We all know the feeling of sitting in the theater with a bucket of popcorn, leaning back, and enjoying the show. Nothing compares to that feeling, whether you have been waiting patiently for this movie to arrive on the big screen or just spontaneously decided to see it. And somehow, that bucket full of popcorn tastes better than anything you have eaten all day. 

But what makes it taste so good? What makes movie popcorn taste different than regular popcorn? 

Here are some reasons — from secret ingredients and seasoning salt to actual studies behind the belief — as to why movie theater popcorn tastes and affects us the way it does. 

Toppings and Secret Ingredients

Movie theaters use many different ingredients to make their popcorn taste and smell the way it does. Most commonly, it is all in the way that the kernels are prepared and popped that helps the finished product to taste the way it does in the theater. Some place their kernels in coconut and canola oil before popping them, which gives them a unique taste and helps make them sweet. Other theaters cook their kernels in a mix of oil and real butter, helping to maximize that butter flavor and fine salt taste before the actual popcorn kernels are popped. 

However, many don’t know that the main reason for the taste of that movie popcorn is a topping called Flavacol. Manufactured by Gold Medal, it’s a buttery and savory topping that is used in cinemas around the nation, adding the extra flavor, signature yellow color, and movie quality to the popcorn that you can only taste in front of the big screen. 

A Healthier Choice? 

Sometimes when you go to the movies, you may want to get a snack that won’t be bad for your body, but you can still enjoy it at the theater. Another one of the great benefits of picking movie theater popcorn is that it is the healthier food choice at the movie theater. Without its extra seasoning or Flavacol topping, popcorn usually contains many whole grains and some protein and fiber, which has many benefits for your body’s health. So if you want a better snack for the show, the air-popped option is often gluten-free and contains less sugar and calories than the other snacks that cinemas sell.

The Cinema Experience 

Not only is it just the taste of the popcorn itself that makes eating movie theater popcorn different from the microwaveable popcorn you have at home, but there is also a science behind it. Studies have shown that there is a real reason why movie theater popcorn tastes better to us, and most of it has nothing to do with the actual cups of popcorn. 

Researchers at Cologne Institute have found that the setting of the dim lighting in cinemas and the trailers and advertisements that play before the movie itself prompt people to eat more popcorn and snacks. The physical action of eating and moving your tongue while watching these commercials makes it less likely that they will stick in your memory before seeing the actual film, helping you enjoy the movie more. 
If you want to recreate that movie theater experience at home with great popcorn, check out our delicious gourmet popcorn flavors that you can enjoy! Contact Best Darn Kettlecorn today to learn more about our variety of flavors and how you can get your hands on a gourmet popcorn tub for your next movie night.