How A Personal Finance Editor Does Movie Concessions

kids' pack

Photo: Business Insider / Jill Krasny

Everyone loves to save money at the movies, but the fact is that it almost never happens. With the average cost of a movie ticket hovering around $9 and $14, and concessions reaching as high as $5 for a small popcorn, $4.25 for a pack of Skittles, and $5 for a medium soda, consumers have good reason to keep close tabs on their spending. 

That’s why I make no bones about buying the kids’ pack at the concession stand. Yes, it’s miserly and some of the ethicists reading this won’t approve, but a girl’s gotta have her buttered popcorn and Diet Coke.

Doing this means I spend about half of what I would have since a kid’s pack at AMC, for example, costs only $6. By bundling the popcorn, soda and candy in one, I’m effectively saving $8.25 — nearly the price of a movie ticket — than I would have if I’d bought the large popcorn, small soda and Skittles separately. 

I’m also creating less waste and helping to keep my weight in check. Kids’ portions are smaller — compare a 6 cup small popcorn to a kids’ size, which is roughly 2 cups — and I’m less likely to ditch the leftover food when I’m done since the portion is reasonable. 

Apparently it’s also acceptable to do, as I’ve never had a cashier check me on it once. 

As we’ve written before, the real issue with ordering a kids’ portion, or off the kids’ menu, comes when you’re doing it in a dishonest way. If you’re trying to pull the wool over your server’s eyes, saying the meal is really for your kid when it isn’t, then you should spring for the big girl’s plate, said Joshua Halberstam, author of Everyday Ethics and a professor of philosophy at Columbia University. 

But if it’s simply a matter of saving cash, which in this case it certainly is, you’ll be in the clear. 

Said Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University and author of Practical Ethics: “I think it’s entirely ethical … A lot of foreigners come here and are amazed at the size of the portions. They don’t want to waste food.” 

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