Sneaking Food Into the Movies
My friend Scoopy's current post about candy got me thinking about eating candy in movie theaters, and then got me thinking about eating candy in movie theaters that they don't sell there.
Yes, sometimes I sneak in food.
And I know that's probably a sin, especially because I used to be a movie theater manager. But if anything, my former job just makes me want to do it more. Because I can be appalled at the mark-up I know is taking place.
Popcorn costs them next to nothing, and they are selling it for 3, 4, $5 a bag. Soda, same thing. When bottles of water are $3.50 and $4.00, you know things are getting crazy.
So sometimes -- not all the time, but sometimes -- my wife will let me stash stuff in her purse before we go in. 20-ounce bottles of water or soda, and/or snack items that we pick up along the way. Because isn't that what your wife's (or your, if you are a woman or a metrosexual man) big-ass purse is for?
I'm not ashamed. Because I spend enough money at movie theater candy stands, and because if they are going to mark up prices that much, they deserve to turn a blind eye once and a while. Plus, I drink diet soda, and the Diet Coke you get at theaters often tastes like ass. So I can sneak in my Diet Pepsi, or Diet Dr. Pepper, and not only is it cheaper, it tastes better. Win-win.
Historical aside -- do you know why they call it a concession stand? Because they used to give away popcorn and drinks for free, to help lure people into the theater. True story.
Times have changed.
Most theaters really don't care if you sneak stuff in, if you aren't blatant about it. As a theater manager, as long as you weren't being an ass or irritating other customers, I didn't care if you snuck in anything, or slid into another theater and caught another movie., as long as you weren't a drunken lout or a chattering teen.
There are exceptions, though. There was a theater on Long Island that made the news (with coverage not exactly positive) after they kicked a man out of a movie theater for eating something that he had brought in with him.
It was a cough drop. Because he had a cough (which, ironically, is something that theaters should want people to suppress). But they had a zero-tolerance policy for outside food, and the guy got tossed.
I have a long history of sneaking food into theaters, even when I was a theater manager. If I was working a late shift, and got there early, I might eat dinner in one of the theaters, or sneak in some candy. I certainly wasn't going to pay my own theater's high prices (employee discount? Yeah, right.) I used to eat packages of those thin Andee's mints, that you could get at the supermarket across the street. Yum. One night, me and a friend snuck in some wine collers (hey, it was the '80s, what did I know) and I accidentally kicked one of the empty bottles over, and it rolled all the way down to the front, slowly and loudly.
Of course, there were limits. I worked in one theater, where the brain-dead designers had the theater exit door going right into the parking lot. So customers would stash beer outside the door, buy their ticket, go in, and then pop open the door to retrieve their beer.
Except we had regular patrols of the parking lot. So when they were on line, me or one of my ushers was likely to find the beer, and cache it in the office. The ones who were shameless enough to ask for it back, got it back after the movie. Pretty much everyone was shameless enough; I can't remember any beers that were still in office at the end of the night.
My favorite story is when I was a camp counselor on Cape Cod one summer. On our nights off, a group of counselors would run into town (someone always had a car) and we'd grab some dinner, and catch a movie. This particular night, we got Chinese food, and had to bolt to make the movie (which I'm pretty sure was E.T.) .
There were 4 of us, and somehow, probably due to canny misdirection and the crush of the crowd, we snuck the whole, huge bag of Chinese food into the theater. The theater was packed; we finally found seats together, way up in the front, off to the side.
And then we opened the bag, in the near-dark (though the movie hadn't started yet), and realized that we didn't have any silverware at all, not even plastic ones. Just those paper containers of rice and food. No plates. Maybe napkins, maybe not. Can't remember.
So we ate out of the containers with our fingers, passing them around, the smell of the Chinese food spreading around us like a cloud, people already starting to look at us, we didn't care, we were hungry.
But finally an usher came down the aisle to check it out. He took one look at us, and just laughed.
Then he walked away, and left us to our dinner.