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Movie Theater Hell: Do Your Theaters Use Popcorn Warmer Bins?


3 movie theater hellFrom Jccho, TalesFromTheTheatre

Just worked my only concessions shift this week last night (possibly my last concessions shift, since next week is my last). 

At my theater, we have 2 (working) poppers, both with heating elements that keep the popcorn in the big pile hot after it comes out of the popper. On weekends we usually run them both since it's obviously busy, and we don't have to clean them on weekend nights because an outside cleaning crew does it for us. However, we also have 2 warming bins that we like to keep filled with our different size options, just in case we ever do run out of popcorn from the poppers. Also, if it ever gets really busy and we only have a few people in concessions (happens way too often), we pull all of our popcorn from the warmers to make the lines go faster.

However, even when it's insanely busy, we'll always get people who demand "fresh" popcorn from the actual poppers. Which, of course, slows us down, but I don't mind as long as they ask politely. But then we'll get the popcorn from the poppers for them, and then the 10 groups of customers behind them in line who saw it will get mad when you give them popcorn from the warmers, and the cycle continues.

Last night, I had a dad and two kids (probably 12 or 13) at my register when a supervisor stepped behind concessions to help us. They ordered one of our large popcorn, large soda combos, and then spent forever trying to figure out what candy to get. While they were doing that, the supervisor read what I had rung up on my POS and grabbed their popcorn tub from the warmer for them. They finally decide to buy 2 different kinds of our more-expensive candy, and then when I tell them their total, the dad, like many customers, flipped out about the prices yet handed over his money anyway. (I've stopped saying stuff in response whenever that happens, because I don't set the prices so there's really nothing I can say or do about it. Well, that and I won't have to deal with it for much longer anyway).

Carolanne dur hurpBut then, after he had paid and I had already handed him has card back, he said "Hey man, for ~$35, can we get some FRESH popcorn?" Definitely not the rudest way someone's ever asked me, but still, a "please" would've been nice. Not to mention I didn't even get him the popcorn from the damn warmer in the first place; my supervisor did. We hadn't even filled the warming bins that long ago either, so the stuff in the popper wasn't hours fresher or anything.

That's just one example of many, of course, and yet management still drills the use of the warmers into our heads. Here's something that's written on a sign in an employees-only area outside the concession stand, emphasis mine: "Always keep popcorn continuously running in the popper as well as fully stocked in the warming bins. There is never an excuse to run out of popcorn, especially on the weekends. Use and refill the warming bins whenever possible, it keeps the popcorn "fresh" and hot."

Yeah, they actually put quotation marks around the word fresh. Which, even if that's true...are customers really going to be convinced of that? Considering how huffy so many of them get whenever we get popcorn from the warmers, I'm gonna say that's a definite "no".

So, do you guys have popcorn warming bins? Do any of your customers get mad at you for not giving them fresh popcorn whenever you use them?




I've always felt that movie theater popcorn is *better* when it's a little stale. Never got the fetish for "fresh" there.


Popcorn has volatile flavor chemicals in it that dissipate with time, and as it cools it turns gummy. I prefer the fresh stuff, but especially if the place is busy, it's going to be turned over pretty quick; if they're already popping some I'll hang out until it's done and ask for that.

Of course, I then put a gallon of grease on it, so it doesn't matter TOO much. :P


My theatre has that solved, the popper is a steel unit over a huge glass bin with presumably a steel base with a heater in it. You could almost loose a kid in there, ballpit-style. They just keep adding kernels as they take out the popped corn.


That kind of means that the stuff at the bottom, unless it's emptied regularly, is old and nasty. :P Bug, see above re gallon of grease...

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