The moviegoing experience seems unimaginable without a pack of popcorn today, but the snack was actually kept out of theatres till the 1920s. The early movie halls that screened silent films were designed to replicate traditional theatres and opera houses, and their impressive decor, including heavy curtains and luxurious carpets, were aimed at wealthy and educated patrons. Theatre owners did not want popcorn on the premises since it was noisy and encouraged littering.
These affluent patrons could read the title cards containing dialogue or descriptors of the action on the screen, but the arrival of the sound film in the 1920s meant that movies could be now be accessed even by the unlettered.
The broader the class of audience, the cheaper the snack – best exemplified by popcorn. It is also among the first snacks to be smuggled under coats during the Great Depression in America in the ’30s.
Popcorn became widely available in the 1890s after candy store owner Charles Cretors invented the popcorn maker. This was the beginning of America’s affair with popcorn, which has spread across the world. The year 2015 marked the 130th anniversary of Cretors’s creation.