Why Advertisers Should Be Terrified At The Smell Of Movie Theater Popcorn

Study examines the effects of cinema snacking

We already know that fake butter–lathered popcorn from movie theaters can have rather detrimental effects on our waistlines. But what if its consumption posed an even greater risk to someone else? From the Journal of Consumer Psychology comes the revelation that the act of chewing makes us immune to film advertising. As in, those annoyingly long 20 minutes of commercials before Captain Phillips aren’t registering in your brain while you go to town on that tub of popcorn in front of you.

The study explains that advertisers are able to successfully imprint brand names because our lips and tongue automatically simulate the pronunciation of a new name when we first hear it. Subsequently, our mouth practices its pronunciation each time it is re-encountered. In an experiment involving half of the subjects receiving a free popcorn and the other half eating a small sugar cube during a film screening, it was concluded that the advertisements had positive psychological effects only on the latter group. Meanwhile, the “inner speech” of participants in the former group was disrupted by chewing.

So, what do these results mean for the future of cinema snacking? The Guardian speculates that the research may ultimately spell the end for the traditional popcorn machine (and with it, the $8.50 small bag), reasoning that the products actually undermine the effects of advertising. While this prediction may seem like quite a leap, it is reasonable to believe that some substantial changes may soon be coming to a theater near you.

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