The Popcorn Conundrum

Prepare for a deep dive into the twisted mind and tummy of Jamey Stegmaier.

For any of this to make sense, you need to understand that I love movie theater popcorn. I don’t love all movie theater popcorn, but when a theater makes good popcorn, I’m all over it. In fact, I often look forward to the popcorn more than the movie. The movie is just a vessel to deliver popcorn to my belly.

Got it? Good. Let’s begin.

Tomorrow will be a bit of an odd day, because a good friend is taking the day off for her birthday, and she had some specific requests: One, that we eat duck for lunch. Two, we watch two movies in the theater back-to-back. Specifically, Isle of Dogs and Ready Player One.

So here’s the schedule for tomorrow:

  • 11:30-12:30: eat duck lunch
  • 12:45: watch Isle of Dogs
  • 3:00: get dessert
  • 4:00: watch Ready Player One

The question is: Should I get popcorn during one of these movies, and if so, which movie?

Scenario 1: Get popcorn during Isle of Dogs

If lunch weren’t immediately before this movie, this would be the obvious choice. The two movies are at different theaters, and the Isle of Dog theater has the best popcorn in St. Louis.

However, if I get popcorn during this movie, it means that I’ll need to eat a small lunch–I’m essentially just putting a little bit of food on my stomach in anticipation of popcorn. That seems reasonable to do if I were eating at home, but we’re eating at an interesting restaurant.

Scenario 2: Get popcorn during Ready Player One

This theater’s popcorn isn’t quite as good, but it’s still quite tasty. The timing is certainly much better for this one–it’s the time of day when I’m happy to have a little snack. That said, I will have just eaten dessert (unless I skip dessert, which also isn’t ideal).

You might wonder: Why don’t I buy the popcorn at the Isle of Dog theater, eat a little bit, get a refill, and sneak it into the Ready Player One theater? I cannot do that. I worked at a movie theater after high school, and I took an oath never to sneak substantial food items into a theater. It is an unbreakable oath, like in Harry Potter.

Scenario 3: Don’t get popcorn at either movie

The horror…no popcorn at all. My waist and heart will thank me, but I will resent them as a result.

However, if I take a step back and look at the situation, I must admit this is a viable option. I can eat a scrumptious lunch and be too full to think about popcorn, and then have a delicious dessert to carry me until dinner.


This is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in a long time. I’ve run the numbers dozens of times, and the results are inconclusive. So I need your help. If you were me, what would you do?