Warning: This might cause you to exclaim, “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” Well, if you’ve ever tasted movie theater popcorn butter, you may actually be able to believe it. But in case you didn’t know, the jig is up: The butter pumped out of the suspicious-looking containers next to the popcorn machine is not butter. (At least now we know that the movie theater industry cannot be blamed for France’s current butter shortage.)
So what exactly is in movie theater popcorn butter? Is there at least a little bit of real butter in it? If you’re someone who thinks they could swallow a whole stick of butter, this could come as a shock, so brace yourself. According to Extra Crispy, movie theater popcorn butter is actually made of two ingredients known as Flavacol and Butter Flavored Topping. As you might have guessed, neither of these products includes actual butter.
If you’re wondering if the butter substitution is like the actual I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! brand, and exists only to diminish the unhealthy aspects of real butter (see: cholesterol), that’s not the case either. In fact, the movie theater butter substitute has 20 more calories per tablespoon than the real thing.
Now, take a second to process all of this life-altering information. It’s a lot to take in, we know.
It turns out that Flavacol’s ingredients are actually pretty gnarly. The butter substitute is made up of chemicals with long names like “tertiary Butylhydroquinone” and unhealthy red-flags like hydrogenated soybean oil. As for the “butter flavoring,” those ingredients are still unknown, according to Extra Crispy.
Call us old-fashioned, but the old-fashioned regular butter sounds pretty good right now.
Of course, you can always ask the concessions stand workers to hold off on the “butter” they squirt onto various layers of your popcorn. And not just because of the extra calories, but because of the chemical overload. (And the complete assault to the regular butter we know and love.)
The aphorism “bread and butter” means “ordinary” for a reason. It’s probably best to just stick to the good old-fashioned real butter for your popcorn. Then again, if you simply love the flavor of that movie theater popcorn butter, then you should do whatever you darn well please. Because there’s no denying it — movie theater popcorn butter is just so good.
Fake butter could very well be as much a movie theater institution as the popcorn it covers. So it’s up to you to decide what to do with this information. It could bring a whole new meaning to the term BYOB.