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SYFY WIRE Fandango

Fandango's 2022 summer movie snack survey finds theater popcorn really is better

We've all suspected it for the longest time — now it's finally confirmed.

By Josh Weiss
Friends sharing popcorn while sitting in theater

At long last, Fandango has irrefutable evidence of something humanity has long suspected since the dawn of cinema: popcorn simply tastes better in a movie theater setting. Don't bother arguing, please — we won't hear a word against it!

According to a new survey conducted by the ticket vending website, a whopping 83 percent of filmgoers agree that the warm and salty snack often served by the bucketful never fails to transcend the usual laws of flavor when ingested in a dark auditorium packed with fellow movie lovers. Seventy-six percent of those polled stated that they're more likely to eat popcorn at a theater than they are at home, while 66 percent usually go for the large and extra-large options.

"Summer moviegoing season is in full swing, and it’s that time of year when fans are craving those spectacular ‘popcorn movies,’” Fandango Managing Editor Erik Davis said in a statement. “We call them ‘popcorn movies’ for a reason: because concessions are an essential part of the theatrical experience. Summer movies allow us to escape our daily routines and discover new, unforgettable adventures at our local theaters, and with Top Gun: Maverick thrilling audiences, and Jurassic World Dominion and more summer blockbusters on the way, theaters are buzzing with big-screen excitement and fans craving those irresistible snacks.”

Fifty-eight percent go for both popcorn and sugary confections, with nearly half mixing the candies into their popcorn. M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, Raisinets, Goobers, and Milk Duds are the most popular mix-ins. No surprises there. Peanut M&M's are the favorite chocolate-based candy, with Twizzlers occupying the top non-chocolate spot. Twizzlers are most popular in Northeast, Midwest, and Southern regions of the United States while Red Vines reign supreme in the Western states. Junior Mints rank as the top "retro" brand.

In terms of "hot" options, 53 percent claimed they never fail to pick up a container of nachos with the vivid orange cheese, which, at the same time, proved to be a little too messy for 77 percent of those polled. Forty-seven percent admitted they'll still get food, even if they're running late to their showing.

Of course, you can't have any of these concessions without a frosty drink close at hand: 72 percent of people choosing to go for a Coke (regular, diet, Coke Zero, or flavored). Fifty-five percent, however, would like to see healthier beverage selections. When it comes to recent additions, forty-five percent of moviegoers enjoy endless refills, alcoholic options, and the flavored Cokes one can choose at the self-serve soda machines at large multiplexes.

Fandango Concession Confessions Survey Findings

"As a regular attending theatergoer, I agree with the Fandango findings wholeheartedly and would say there’s a multitude of reasons why this is," Lee Meltzer, VP, Entertainment at R&CPMK, tells SYFY WIRE. "First, the minute you walk into a theater, you get this whiff of buttery goodness that immediately tingles every sense in your body and makes you crave the largest bag/tub possible. Secondly, movie popcorn has that rich combination of butter and salt that, when done correctly, is absolute satisfies the sweet and salty tastes that many of us desire. Finally, and this is very important, popcorn tastes better at the movies when it is FRESHLY popped. A large freshly popped popcorn with its crisp, fluffy nature, is incredibly satisfying! For my go-tos, it’s usually a large popcorn, a water or iced tea and if I want to splurge…a bag of Peanut M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces."

Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, takes a more nostalgic stance on the matter. "'Let's all go to the lobby to get ourselves a treat!" proclaimed the classic intermission bumper — and for good reason. Popcorn does indeed taste better in a movie theater," he says. "As the only acceptable food-based sound made by fellow patrons during a movie, the crunching of popcorn is a nostalgia-inducing reminder of our formative years when a tub of popcorn, candy, and a cold fountain drink were an integral part of the moviegoing experience. And now we have the numbers to prove what everyone already knew!"

The survey also found that action and adventure genres are more likely to spur concession purchases, followed by comedy, science fiction, and fantasy. Out of six thousand moviegoers surveyed, 83 percent confirmed that they'd be seeing three or more films on the big screen this summer.

Looking for an excuse to fill up on your favorite movie theater snacks this summer? Universal Pictures has you covered with a trio of blockbuster releases: Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World Dominion (June 10), Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone (June 24), and Jordan Peele's Nope (July 22).