If you’re like most people who think that one of the best parts about taking a trip to the movies is eating as much of that questionably delicious movie theatre popcorn as you can, you may have to sit down for this one.
We already have to deal with the ludicrous price of popcorn that always seems to go up no matter how many times we complain (and eight dollars for a drink, what’s that about?!), but on top of this, there is something new to cry about.
I am sure there’s nothing you love more than watching the concession worker top off your extra large popcorn with that beautiful, yellow liquid. Being on the other side of that it is quite funny. Seeing people’s eyes sparkle as they watch the near sensual experience. I wish I could have someone look at me the same way. Sadly, I have bad news.
As sorry as I am to break it to you, movie theatre popcorn butter isn’t actually butter. And, seeing as there are tons of foods out there that aren’t exactly what they say they are, deep down, you probably already knew that, didn’t you?
According to Extra Crispy, that “butter” is actually made with Flavacol and Butter Flavored Topping. If you’ve ever wondered just what it is about movie theater popcorn that gives it that special, yellow color, you can chalk that up to Flavacol.
What is Flavacol, I hear you ask? It is basically a type of seasoning salt that goes on the popcorn. It has four ingredients salt, artificial flavor and Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) yellows #5 and #6. Sounds scary, but ultimately it’s just yellow food coloring and salt. Not terrible, but not exactly an “eat it everyday” kind of thing.
Butter Flavored Topping, on the other hand, is just an oil that mimics the taste of butter. It’s made with chemicals like beta carotine (a pigment that can be found organically in vegetables like carrots and spinach) and polydimethylsiloxane (an anti-foaming agent).
Buter Flavored Topping also has tertiary Butylhydroquinone (a synthetic antioxidant that slows down oxidation), and hydrogenated soybean oil. If real butter was used, there would probably be a shortage in a matter of seconds. We’re already running out of croissants, we don’t need a popcorn shortage too.
When you can’t see the label on your food, the reveal of its ingredients is always going to be a lot more dramatic but then again, these ingredients aren’t as bad as they sound. Okay, they’re chemicals so we shouldn’t really have them in us, but they are relatively safe.
Beta-carotine is a red-orange pigment that gives fruits their natural rich, fresh looking pigment. The body converts beta-carotine into vitamin A which is needed for healthy skin and mucus membranes. Dimethylpolysiloxane helps keep the popcorn slick and not too sticky or foamy (to an extent), and tertiary Butylhydroquinone stops your food going off.
Hydrogenated soybean oil is a transfat, so there is little to no doubt that it isn’t good for you. As popcorn is generally quite good for you (or on the healthier side of the bad food spectrum) you may just be okay with having a little bad in your good.
Anyways, it’s not like you asked to be told that everything you’ve ever believed is a lie today, but of course, we had to let you know. If in doubt, just pop your own kernels, season, and sneak them in. I won’t tell anyone. Besides, it’s 2017: you can get a steak to your movie seat now! A little healthy popcorn won’t hurt anyone.