Let's be honest — the vast majority of theaters are slinging the same sad pretzels, stale nachos, and dry chicken fingers. And while we'll always have a soft spot for faux-flavored popcorn and movie-theater candy, sometimes it's just easier, cheaper, and healthier to bring your own food to the movie theater.
This is obviously against theater policy, but we're all for smuggling in your own food — so long as you follow these rules. Abide by them and no one will throw popcorn at you.
1. Thou Shalt Not Bring Dinner into the Cinema
Most people go to the movies expecting certain smells and sounds — the smell of buttered popcorn, the screech a straw makes against the plastic lid of a fountain soda, the rustle of Milk Duds in a carton. Anything outside this narrow boundary is likely to turn heads and ruffle feathers. That said, your fellow moviegoers will (probably) tacitly agree to sit next to you while you consume your contraband snack.
What they won't stand (or sit?) for is anyone eating cheeseburgers, pasta, hoagies, or chicken wings. Meals have no place in a cinema, and should you need a reminder of the difference between a snack and a meal, the following guidelines may be of assistance: A snack fits in your hand and can be eaten quickly; a meal not only has more food in volume, but also requires plates, silverware, and/or napkins to eat.
2. Thou Shalt Avoid Smelly Foods (Especially McDonald's Fries)
Aside from screaming babies and checking your cell phone, eating something smelly is the quickest way to take another person out of the action unfolding on screen. Speaking of smelly foods, there's a reason the theater's concession stand doesn't sell McDonald's french fries; they are scientifically engineered to carry their scent for miles around. Okay, that might not be true, but if you've ever been hungry at work and someone walks in with McDonald's fries, you'll know it feels true.
3. Thou Shalt Embrace Odorless Foods
Trail mix, granola bars, candy, bottled water — go for it! A sleeve of Thin Mints? Knock yourself out. A large bag of Pirate's Booty? Yes, that's fine.
4. Thou Shalt Eat Quiet Foods Quietly
Apples are out. So are soda cans, or individually wrapped candies. If it's louder than the sounds coming from the surround-sound speakers, definitely think twice about bringing it in.
5. Thou Shalt Not Make a Mess
This one's just common sense, but do not bring your Chipotle burritos into a movie. You will spill black beans, rice, and salsa all over yourself, your seat, and the floor. Not cool.
6. Thou Shalt Clean Up Your Mess
It's pretty rude to ask people to step over your empty popcorn bags, but to ask them to step over your Taco Bell bags and fried chicken buckets is even ruder. Like, that's not just run-of-the-mill bad theater behavior — it's bad behavior in the real world, too. You wouldn't leave your trash in a public park, so don't leave your trash behind at a movie theater.
7. Thou Shalt Employ Stealth
The food you're bringing in shouldn't bulge out of your pockets or purse. Be discreet or you'll look like a complete goofball — and also probably get caught.
8. Thou Shalt Smuggle in Booze at Your Own Risk
Chugging Jack Daniels at "Finding Dory" isn't the best idea. However, sipping white wine out of a water bottle on a Friday night out with your boo sounds super fun (as long as you are 21 or older!). Use your discretion if you're thinking about sneaking in any alcoholic beverages.
9. Thou Shalt Accept Mockery
If you knock over your jumbo box of Raisinettes causing a rumbling, rattling stampede toward the front of the theater, the rest of us can point and laugh. Same goes for metal soda cans.
10. Thou Shalt Not Cast Superior Glances at Your Neighbor
So your homemade snack mix and rosé in a Swell bottle is definitely better than the aforementioned stale nachos. Don't gloat or steal looks at your neighbor hoping that they will look over at you and feel pangs of jealousy. Resist.