Which cinema chain has the best cinema popcorn?

14 December '15 Comment

best cinema popcorn 3Today, as part of my traditional Christmas research, I am studying something a bit more frivolous than usual. In previous Xmas pieces I’ve looked at the most common first names of UK film crew members (spoiler: David), the change in aspect ratio of Hollywood movies over time (29% 2.35:1 in 1994 to 79% in 2013) and the operating systems used by film professionals (spoiler: 74% Mac-based).

Last month, I studied cinema popcorn (price, size and calories) and at the time I had a few people contact me to say that I had ignored the most important factor – the taste. So last week, with the help of students at the Met Film School, I ran a taste test of six types of cinema popcorn – salty and sweet from the three major cinema chains.


best cinema popcorn 1We bought two large popcorns (one sweet, one salty) from the nearest Odeon, Vue and Cineworld cinemas. The popcorn was sealed in air-tight containers and rushed back the Met Film School. We then handed out samples to 54 students and staff members, asking them to score the popcorn out of five, for five different attributes…

  • Appearance
  • Taste
  • Crunch
  • Flavour Intensity
  • Overall score

Participants did not know which cinema each sample came from and voting was conducted secretly via voting slips.

best cinema popcorn 2So, let’s dim the lights, play the music and start the ceremony…

Host: Good evening. My name is Stephen and I’ve been asked to host tonight the world’s hottest Online Cinema-Snack-Based Awards Ceremony… The Popcorn Awards. I can see in the audience luminaries from the snack counter – I’m talking about you Hot Dog, good to see you.

CUT TO: Shot of Hot Dog waving

And Nachos, here tonight with long-time partner Suspiciously-Yellow-Cheesey-Stuff-Which-Clearly-Isn’t-Real-Cheese.

CUT TO: Shot of Nachos trying to look modest and humble but failing miserably.

Our first category tonight is ’Salty Popcorn in a Leading Snack Role’. The nominees are… *opens silver envelope* … Vue… *applause* … Cineworld… *applause* … Odeon… *applause*.

And the winner is… *struggles to get the gold envelope open*  err, just adding to the tension *finally breaks in* … Odeon! That’s right, our judges placed Odeon as the best of the bunch for all five measures.

best cinema popcorn salt table

In all but appearance, Vue was voted worst for salty popcorn.

Salt scores best cinema popcorn

Is there someone from Odeon here to collect the award? No? Oh. Well, that’s a little rude. None the less, we’ll move on.

At this point in the show we like to pay tribute to the cinema snacks we’ve lost – Cadbury’s Spira, Nestle’s Secret and Giant Smarties. *montage set to sad music*

Our final major award tonight is ‘Best Original Sweet Popcorn’.

The nominees are Vue, Cineworld and still glowing from their across-the-board sweep of the salt categories Odeon.

And the winner is… *opens envelope* Really? Again? Are we sure they’ve not got to the judges like in that movie ‘The Jury’? Ok, fine… the winner is Odeon! What’s that? I’m being told that in fact it’s a tie! This is unprecedented in the entire history of these inaugural awards…

First place for the sweet popcorn goes jointly to Odeon and Vue.

best cinema popcorn tabel sweet

Odeon was top dog for the ‘Taste’ and ‘Overall’ categories, Vue came top in ‘Appearance’ and ‘Crunch’ with both scoring the identical score for ‘Flavour Intensity’.

sweet scores best cinema popcorn

Thank you everyone watching from home for supporting this year’s awards. 


I’m indebted to my team of helpers Hileri, Linh, Lucia, Shivani and Sophie and to all of the staff and students at the Met Film School who helped perform this important scientific research.

Have a very merry Christmas!


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