During the early 19th century, most Americans subsisted on a diet of pork, whiskey, and coffee. It was hell on the bowels, and to many Christian fundamentalists, hell on the soul, too. They believed that constipation was God’s punishment for eating meat. The diet was also blamed for fueling lust and laziness. To rid America of these vices, religious zealots spearheaded the country’s first vegetarian movement. In 1863, one member of this group, Dr. James Jackson, invented Granula, America’s first ready-to-eat, grain-based breakfast product.
Before the web, and well prior to the advent of animated GIFs, people in the middle of the nineteenth century used to peer through the slits of a phenakistoscope, and watch a disc adorned with images, that when spun, produced what looked like a moving image, or animation.
When the studio system crumbled in the mid-50s, there was a burst of creativity. Audiences were introduced to independent films of the American New Wave genre – such as Bonnie and Clyde, released in 1967 – as well as European art house, French New Wave, spaghetti westerns, and Japanese cinema. The novel styles, plot lines, and film techniques create a noticeable uptick in Sreenivasan’s analysis.
Movies and, of all things, popcorn are synonymous. Why popcorn though, and not something else, like potato crisps/chips, or choc top ice creams, both of which are reasonably popular film fodder anyway. Given the reluctance of cinemas to make the snack available in the first place, too lowbrow apparently, it’s actually surprising popcorn ever caught on:
“Movie theaters wanted nothing to do with popcorn,” Smith says, “because they were trying to duplicate what was done in real theaters. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.” Movie theaters were trying to appeal to a highbrow clientele, and didn’t want to deal with the distracting trash of concessions – or the distracting noise that snacking during a film would create. When films added sound in 1927, the movie theater industry opened itself up to a much wider clientele, since literacy was no longer required to attend films (the titles used early silent films restricted their audience). By 1930, attendance to movie theaters had reached 90 million per week. Such a huge patronage created larger possibilities for profits – especially since the sound pictures now muffled snacks – but movie theater owners were still hesitant to bring snacks inside of their theaters.