For the record, we at Sporked do not officially condone sneaking snacks into movie theaters. It’s against the rules and rules should be followed, I guess. But concession stand prices, especially on top of the price of your ticket, are just too damn high. You shouldn’t have to rack up debt just to partake in the time-honored tradition of shoveling fistfuls of food into your face in the dark in front of a big screen. So if you decide to sneak your own snacks into the movie theater, I’m not going to judge you. In fact, I’m going to help you do it right.
Not just any snack belongs in a movie theater. You need to consider a few factors. Obviously, it must be portable and space-efficient so you can smuggle it in like the crooked snack mule you are. Aim for minimal messiness: You don’t want anything that can break or spill or melt, like soup or ice cream, obviously. And out of respect for fellow movie-goers, I recommend a non-odorific snack. No potent French cheeses or garlicky hot meals, please. And, perhaps most importantly, it should be special. Going to the movies is a special treat and your snack choices should be, too. Plus, if they’re competing with the butter-drenched, salty sublimity of movie theater popcorn, they better be good.
Finally, you should practice good snack etiquette: Dispose of your trash and don’t leave a mess, or you will give movie snack smugglers everywhere a bad name!
Okay, but is there a better snack to sneak into a movie theater than Pringles?! They’re in a literal tube, which you can fit in the sleeve of a winter coat (there’s a small chance movie theater staff might peek into your bag, but they can’t pat you down—they’re not the TSA). Pringles have a relatively quiet crunch, and everyone loves them. Bring a tube of Pringles to the movies and I guarantee it will excite your friends more than that twist in the final act (honestly, we all saw it coming).
- Frozen Pizza
If you’re looking for something more substantial, pizza is a great movie food. It’s satisfying, can be enjoyed hot or cold, and doesn’t require utensils. But movie theater pizza is usually greasy, under-seasoned, and tastes like it’s been frozen as long as the stoned teenager who heated it up has been alive. Frozen grocery store pizza (which is wildly underrated, imho) is an ideal stand-in. May I recommend Motor City Detroit Style Supreme Deep Dish Pizza? This budget-friendly and delicious Sporked fave not only ranked highest in our frozen pizza taste test, it also comes in a square shape which you can cut into tupperware-friendly rectangles. Or, wrap the individual pieces in tinfoil and throw them into your pockets. Ever walked around with secret pizza in your pocket? Trust me, it’s empowering.
- Cookie Dough
Once, after a gnarly breakup, I brought a tupperware of pre-made cookie dough into the movie theater and ate the whole thing while watching Toy Story III by myself. No regrets. If you’re going to the movies because you’re feeling heartbroken or depressed, 10/10 would recommend bringing along some cookie dough to help fill that void in your soul. A classic Pillsbury roll will do the trick. You can eat it straight from the tube, like God intended. This one pairs well with a rom-com or a feel-good Disney movie or any movie—or no movie at all. Sitting in the dark eating cookie dough may not fix all your problems, but it will help you forget them.
- Hard Candy
Theater concession stands typically offer a buffet of candy options, from classics like Skittles and M&Ms to more niche offerings like Hot Tamales and (my personal favorite) Dots, but rarely do they offer a classic hard candy, like Werther’s Original or Jolly Ranchers. Why the heck not?! As Sporked staff writer Danny Palumbo declared, hard candy should be a cool guy thing. I agree and, further, believe that hard candy should be a movie thing. If movies can run up to three hours long (this should be illegal, but it’s not), then so should your candy. Sit down, Skittles. This is Jolly Ranchers’ time to shine.
- Fruit Roll-Ups
Fruit Roll-Ups are the perfect undercover movie snack: They’re mess-free, space-efficient, and won’t rattle around in your bag. They’re easy to eat and share. And the iconic flavor will take you back to your childhood. If you live near one of those old-timey theaters that plays classics from your childhood, throw some Fruit by the Foot in your jacket pocket and unravel that baby in the dark while watching Mean Girls or the original Jurassic Park. The whole experience will transport you back to a simpler time, before you knew what a W-9 was or had ever been on hold with Verizon.
- Beef jerky
Beef jerky is perfect for road trips, and movie theaters are kind of like road trips in that they involve limited movement and sometimes last longer than you’d like. If you find yourself succumbing to a mid-movie slump, nothing can perk you up like a little slab of protein packed with sodium-rich flavor. I don’t actually eat beef, but I still feel in my soul that it should be dehydrated and eaten from a plastic package in a dark theater for maximum enjoyment. And for my fellow vegetarians, I recommend mushroom jerky—it’s better than it sounds! And if you get caught with mushroom jerky in your bag, the theater staff probably won’t even register it as a food and will give you a free pass.
- A Sweet-Salty Mix
For the indecisive among us, this option hits all the bases. Sweet, crunchy, and salty? A mix of different snack classics with an array of flavors and textures will keep your taste buds on their toes. Trader Joe’s Jingle Jangle (or the warm weather alternative, Springle Jangle) is my absolute favorite. It’s like if trail mix quit hiking and committed to the party lifestyle. It’s sweet; it’s savory; it’s exciting. Hell, if the movie sucks, you probably won’t even notice. Your mouth will be having its own cinematic experience worthy of a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.