There are a few home truths about an outing to the movies that cinephiles would probably rather not know and that might just change the way they think about their next visit.
Perhaps the most startling is that popcorn is often doused in coconut oil and chemicals to give it that irresistible aroma that wafts from the concession stand where cinemas make up to 40% of their revenue.
Not only this but punters should not be fooled by the churning machine and the warmth of the seemingly fresh popcorn; the tasty snack lasts for two days and might well be served up from yesterday’s batch.
A list compiled by Good Morning America and Reader’s Digest also reveals how cinema employees themselves stay away from the pretzels, hot dogs and nachos knowing how stale and old they are and that the nacho cheese may have been sitting out for days before it is melted and poured over chips.
The only foods they trust according to an anonymous source who provided much of the information to Reader’s Digest, is the popcorn, boxed candy and beverages.
Moreover, between showings, the remnants of those snacks that are dropped all over the floors are hurriedly swept under seats rather than into the trash.
“Your suspicions are correct,” writes a cinema worker.
“Sometimes I sweep excess food under the seats. Movies often end every few minutes. Sometimes, three or more screenings end at the same time. I don’t always have time to clean everything up.”
Cinema popcorn is often doused in coconut oil and chemicals to give it that irresistible aroma
Employees aren’t that bothered either by cheeky cinema-goers who sneak in for double bills without paying or those who use cell phones, according to the list.
“I know all the methods you use to sneak in. I just don’t always care enough to kick you out for it,” says the source who explains that most people who use their phones are the young audience members that cinemas want to keep attracting, hence the lack of enforcement.
But they aren’t that relaxed when it comes to handing out free merchandise. At the end of the day an inventory is taken so extra cups are rarely provided for large soda sharers no matter how many times you ask.
Tech geeks who assume they are getting a better experience by going to see an “Extreme Digital” screening are mistaken if they believe it is better than Imax. Theatres charge more but it is lower quality than Imax and easier for the cinema to maintain.
Where you can ensure the best movie experience, however, is by picking a seat right in the middle of the auditorium where sound checks for optimal audio are conducted. Too far out to the side and sound might be distorted.
When it comes to the best deal for your cinema outing, GMA suggests getting discounts and coupons at Sam’s, Costco or Triple A where you can save 25% on ticket purchase.
Where you can’t save money though, is back at the concession stand.
“Combination deals don’t save you money at some theaters. You’d pay the same price if you purchased the items separately,” admits the Reader’s Digest source. But you can watch out for staffers trying to up sell a large popcorn for only 75 cents more than the medium.
Cinema employees tend to stick together, explains the employee. If you complain about something, “the manager might pretend to yell at me for a minute, but he’ll pat me on the back the moment you’re out of sight”.
Restaurant insiders from across the US have revealed what really goes on behind customers’ backs.
Tricks, such as adding extra sugar to kids’ meals so children enjoy them more, and that a daily “special” is often leftover ingredients that need to be used up, were revealed in the list of industry secrets compiled for Good Morning America by Reader’s Digest.
The mostly-anonymous group of wait staff also admitted some common lies told to customers.
One revealed that they would tell a vegetarian that a dish contained no meat stock, regardless of whether it did or not, just to sell the dish.
And a Kansas City waitress said that she will just serve decaf coffee after 8pm so she only has to clean one pot at the end of the night – but will confidently tell a customer that their coffee is caffeinated regardless.
“I’ll bring out a tray with 12 coffees on it and give some to the customers who ordered regular, others to the ones who ordered decaf. But they’re all decaf,” she admitted.
As for milk, they reveal very few outlets beyond Starbucks carry skimmed milk, and your skinny latte has most likely been made with 2% or whole milk instead because “it’s just not practical” to stock so many varieties.
Restaurant insiders from across the US have revealed what really goes on behind customers' backs
Even the most upscale breakfast buffets are not immune from shortcuts, with another revealing that “99 times out of 100” scrambled eggs are made with a powder instead of fresh eggs.
Kids’ meals are a shady area too: a waitress at a well-known pizza chain admitted: “We put sugar in our kids’ meals so kids will like them more. Seriously. We even put extra sugar in the dough for the kids’ pizzas.”
Some trade secrets are so offputting, it affects how wait staff order when they dine out themselves.
One waitress told Reader’s Digest that she would never have a lemon slice in her drink, having seen that the fruit are rarely washed before being sliced and handled by many different staff before they make it into a customer’s drink.
Another revealed that they would never order fish if dining on a Sunday or a Monday because a restaurant’s seafood deliveries usually come just twice a week so the freshest fish is most likely served between Tuesday and Friday.
The list also delves into the type of customer behaviour that servers respond to best – and in that, provide the best quality service.
First dates, especially blind dates, one Michigan waiter said, are great for tips because a guy will typically show off by ordering wine, and leave a generous 20-25% tip.
But diners can quickly lose favor with their waiter by doing something as simple as ordering hot tea – apparently the most annoying menu item to prepare.
“The single greatest way to get your waiter to hate you? Ask for hot tea,” a New York maître d’hôtel told the magazine.
“For some reason, an industry that’s managed to streamline everything else hasn’t been able to streamline that. You’ve got to get a pot, boil the water, get the lemons, get the honey, bring a cup and spoon. It’s a lot of work for little reward.”
This is not the first time that restaurant staff has lifted the lid on what goes on behind the scenes. Last month social news website Reddit asked fast food employees for “the one menu option at your employment that you would recommend people never eat?”
Within 24 hours, the conversation generated more than 6,000 comments revealing the alleged dodgy practices in fast-food chains, including some branches of Wendy’s, McDonalds and Subway.
The thread also offers some useful tips for customers to be aware of including, mouldy ice machines and how condiment containers can be endlessly refilled without being cleaned.
Chicken nuggets and grilled chicken were repeat offenders throughout the thread. One former McDonald’s employee warned against the chicken nuggets recalling: “I accidentally left a whole bag of about 100 chicken nuggets out on a counter for way too long. They melted. Into a pool of liquid.
“I never understood why. But they were completely indiscernible as being the nuggets I once knew.”
FIVE OF THE WORST RESTAURANT RUSES:
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: “If you’re a vegetarian and you ask if we use vegetable stock, I’m going to say yes, even if we don’t. You’ll never know the difference.”
DAILY SPECIALS: “Watch out for the soup of the day. If it contains fish or if it’s some kind of <<gumbo>>, it’s probably the stuff they’re trying to get rid of.”
FISH: “Don’t order fish on Sunday or Monday. The fish deliveries are usually twice a week, so Tuesday through Friday are great days.”
KIDS’ MEALS: “We put sugar in our kids’ meals so kids will like them more. Seriously. We even put extra sugar in the dough for the kids’ pizzas.”
HOMEMADE: “[One boss would] go to Costco and buy this gigantic carrot cake for $10 and tell us to say it’s homemade. Then he sold it for $10 a slice.”
Source: Reader’s Digest