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Tearjerkers Tend to Jack Up Popcorn Sales

Tearjerkers Tend to Jack Up Popcorn Sales

Researchers from Cornell University have found that sad movies are associated with a large increase in popcorn consumption.

Specifically, scientists from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab showed moviegoers watching tearjerkers consumed more popcorn both in the lab and in a mall theater during the Thanksgiving holiday.

As reported in the JAMA Internal Medicine research letter, moviegoers ate 28 percent more popcorn (125 versus 98 grams) when watching the sentimental drama “Love Story” than when watching the comedy “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Analyses of discarded mall movie popcorn in seven cities across the U.S. showed similar results over a Thanksgiving weekend.

After weighing discarded popcorn and counting popcorn boxes, Cornell Food and Brand Lab researchers found that moviegoers who bought popcorn and watched a sad movie, “Solaris,” ate an average of 55 percent more popcorn (127 versus 82 grams) than those watching the more upbeat movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

If you love tearjerkers, don’t despair: You can use the movie genre to your advantage.

“Sad movies also lead people to eat more of any healthy food that’s in front of them,” said lead author Dr. Brian Wansink. “It’s a quick and mindless way of getting more fruit or veggies into your diet.”

The study complements a recent finding, also by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, which shows that action and adventure movies also lead television viewers to eat more calories, but only if the foods are within arm’s reach.

“With action movies, people seem to eat to the pace of the movie,” said Aner Tal, Ph.D., a┬áCornell researcher and co-author. “But movies can also generate emotional eating, and people may eat to compensate for sadness.”

Wansink provides a last piece of advice for dieting movie-lovers, “Keep snacks out of arms reach, ideally leave them in the kitchen and only bring to the couch what you intend to eat. It’s easier to become slim by design than slim by willpower.”

Source: Cornell University/EurekAlert

Tearjerkers Tend to Jack Up Popcorn Sales

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Tearjerkers Tend to Jack Up Popcorn Sales. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 3 Mar 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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