A Harte Appetite: Movies and Popcorn Just Go Together
The late Will Rogers once observed, "the movies are the only business where you can go out front and applaud yourself."
Every year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does just that during the Academy Awards Ceremony in Hollywood.
Afterwards, participants attend a dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck.
But the relationship between movies and food started long before Puck began planning his menu. The history of Hollywood is replete with movies that have appealed as much to our stomachs as to our hearts and souls.
All kinds of foods have played supporting roles or even been outright stars in films, ranging from the grapefruit wielded by James Cagney in "The Public Enemy," to the chocolate in "Chocolat." But there's one food that is inextricably linked to the cinema regardless of a film's content -- popcorn.
As a matter of fact, the most profitable business of any local movie theater is not the exhibition of films, but the selling of popcorn. Because a relatively small number of kernels produce a lot of volume when popped, theaters typically make 90 cents in profit on every dollar's worth of popcorn sold.
Moreover, salted popcorn makes customers thirsty for soft drinks, another high-profit item available at the theater concession stand.
Ironically, movie theaters initially resisted getting into the popcorn business because it was too messy. Instead street vendors supplied the crowds as they lined up outside the theater.
Popcorn and movies have remained intertwined ever since, even with the invention of the VCR, which made viewing movies at home an attractive option to many. Coincidentally, just as the VCR took hold in the early '80s, so did the microwave oven, the device in which these days the vast majority of people pop corn at home.
It's all together fitting that the movies and popcorn should be so closely associated because like the movies, popcorn is indigenously American.
If you're looking for ways to dress up your popcorn for the Oscars, check the Web site of the Popcorn Board (yes, there really is one) at www.popcorn.org. You'll find nearly 100 recipes there, all delicious examples of pop art.