National Popcorn Day Activities and Deals

Did you know…
Popcorn was a breakfast food in the mid-1800’s? That’s right. It was served in a bowl with milk, the way we eat cold breakfast cereals today.

Americans consume more popcorn annually than any other nation, around 17 billion quarts a year.

Cracker Jack, a delightful salty sweet combination of caramel popcorn ad peanuts , are the 6th highest grossing ballpark snack. Cracker Jack outsell hamburgers, soft serve ice cream, Nachos and even, ball park franks annually.

Microwave popcorn was discovered before the official invention of the microwave oven. Dr. Percy Spencer a scientist working at Raytheon Corporation in 1946, working with a magnetron, conducted food experiments that concluded that food heating could be possible in a new way. Popcorn was one of the substances that was successfully cooked in this manner. So, in a way, the discovery of microwave popcorn led to the creation of microwave ovens.

The first commercial microwave popcorn available to the public was sold in 1982 by Pillsbury. Buttered microwave popcorn was initially made with real, dairy based butter and had to be refrigerated or frozen before using it.

There was once an “Act 1” microwave popcorn that pre-dated “Act II”, it has since become obsolete, as it was of the frozen variety.

Entrepreneur, Charles Cretors, invented the first popcorn popping machine, making it feasible for street vendors to offer America’a favorite snack at every circus, ball park and fair in America.

There was a time that popcorn was banned from movie theaters, along with other food and beverage. During the silent film era, 1895 to 1927, popcorn was strictly prohibited, even though street vendors were doing a tremendous business selling popcorn s a street food outside of Movie Palaces. Theater goers were forced to “check” their popcorn at the coat check before entering the theater.

Popcorn History

We live in an age of absolute convenience. There is very little we cannot have, with the simple press of a button. We can order snacks, including a choice of five brands of microwave popcorn whose most popular flavor is movie theater butter style and scroll through a choice of seemingly unlimited movies through our multiple streaming service subscriptions without putting on pants or leaving our couch. The convenience is incredible, don’t get me wrong. 13 year old me would be very jealous of 40 something me. There is no doubt about it.

There is something so uniquely intoxicating about the smell of freshly popping movie theater popcorn wafting through the theater, as you wait on line to purchase your ticket. And there is something addictive about the taste of the popcorn that movie houses serve. The flavor and crunch of movie theater popcorn is so special that it is a top selling flavoring among the choices available in national best selling brands. Even when we opt to Netflix and chill, on a movie night, we want to re-create the movie theater popcorn experience. 100 years ago, both film and pop-corn were relative new comers on the scene in the United States. Popcorn became a popular street food in the United States, following the creation of the Mobile-Steam Popcorn Popper created in 1893. It was a snack that became easily accessible at sporting events, circuses and fairs and was considered a snack of the commoner, a street food.

During the silent film era, an excursion to the movie theater was an activity reserved for the educated, wealthy class. You had to be able to read to take in a silent film and the price was quite high. In 1927, the tail end of the silent film era, the entrance price was around 50 cents, more than $8 in today’s money. With the release of the first talkies came regal movie palaces, such as the late, great Fox Theater of San Francisco. They were large regal buildings with lavish furnishings, marble floors, plush carpets and elaborate chandeliers. They were places for the who’s who of society to see and be seen. The Fox was no exception. It was one of the grandest movie palaces constructed at that time, earning it the nick name, “The Last Word”. Eating inside the theater was prohibited, as it made a mess of the place and the noise of wrappers and crunching was thought to interfere with enjoyment of the films.

During the early days of talkies, there were concession carts outside of the theaters, including the new comer on the scene, popcorn carts. The concessions operators made a nice profit. The snacks purchased outside were still banned inside the theater. The fancy movie palaces of the day had coat check areas and patrons of the movie palaces were required to check their popcorn along with their coats.

Everything changed as the Great Depression took its toll on the theaters. Soon they were having trouble filling the seats. A theater manager in the mid-west decided to think outside of the box and his innovation, along with popcorn, saved the movie theaters. Some of the concessions stand owners were invited into the theater to sell pop-corn, drinks and candy. The ban on eating in the theater was lifted. And the price of a movie went from 50 cents to 15 cents, attracting the masses. Talkies had fully replaced silent films, so you no longer had to be educated to understand what was happening on the big screen. It was a huge success. The movies became a destination for people during the great depression. Soon theater managers realized that concessions brought in more profits than the films themselves, as they could keep 100 percent of the profits from concessions and only 40% of the profits from the films. Third party vendors became a thing of the past and theater owners got into the concessions business. Today popcorn continues to bring in more profits than the films themselves and 40% of all movie goers get popcorn when at a movie theater. 80% of the patrons of movie theater concessions stands opt for popcorn.

Sugar rationing, during the great world wars meant that candy and soda were not easily available for sale, which made popcorn the main movie theater snack. Today it is almost impossible to think of movie snacks without thinking of popcorn. Movie theater butter is the most popular flavor of 5 national brands of microwave popcorn.

Today is national popcorn day. Kick it old school and head to one of San Francisco’s Cinema’s for a show and a bag of authentic movie theater popcorn. Or pop in your favorite brand of microwave popcorn and binge your favorite films on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or, for the the true film buff, the Criterion Chanel. One thing is for sure, the intoxicating smell of freshly made popcorn is impossible to resist.

Popcorn Deals

Great Deals to Take Advantage of on National Popcorn Day January 19, 2024


Fandango and 30,000 cinemas across the nation have partnered up to offer discounts on popcorn and other special deals for National Popcorn Day. Check out the details here:

Alamo Draft House

-Alamo Draft House is giving away free popcorn along with a $5 food and beverage purchase. Check out the details here:


-Cinepolis has specials on bottomless butter popcorn ($2 off) and caramel popcorn (1/2 off)


-Cinemark is offering $2 off medium and large popcorn


-Regal Cinemas is offering 50% off all popcorn