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What's in Your Popcorn? "A Pound of Baby Back Ribs Topped with a Scoop of Häagen-Dazs"

By Anthony Todd in Food on Mar 24, 2011 3:30PM

When you are stuffing popcorn in your face at the movies, do you have any idea how many calories you are eating? Do you want to know? Well, a large popcorn can be the caloric equivalent of 3 Big Macs (approximately 1500 calories), a fact hard to keep in mind while your hand-to-mouth action keeps pace with the explosions on the screen. The LA Times reports that the FDA would really like you to know these numbers, but that theater owners are not particularly fond of disclosure.

We did a brief glance at the websites of some local movie houses, and we couldn't find nutritional information for their concessions. We don't want to claim that it's not buried somewhere in their labyrinthine systems, but it's not obvious. However, the information is available if you search. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a large popcorn at AMC has 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat - largely because they pop using coconut oil. Says CSPI: "That's like eating a pound of baby back ribs topped with a scoop of Häagen-Dazs ice cream—except that the popcorn has an additional day’s worth of saturated fat."

According to FDA rules, restaurant chains must disclose the calorie counts of their food. Yesterday, the Times claimed that the FDA was set to announce their decision that movie theaters had to do the same thing. The National Association of Theatre Owners has been lobbying for an exception, because movie theater snacks are... well.. just snacks. They aren't dinner. According to the group's general counsel: "We're not restaurants where people go to eat and satisfy themselves. It's dinner and a movie, not dinner at a movie." On the other hand, that many calories is MORE than most people have for dinner.

It's amazing how some foods have inflated calorie counts - like the McDonald's salads that have more calories than a Big Mac. Next time you go to the movies, think about grabbing the Raisinets - or be sure to skip dessert at the dinner before the movie!