Charles Mudede is an award-winning filmmaker with the wrong opinion about popcorn. Mudede's first feature was 2005's Police Beat, a movie that follows an immigrant police officer for a week and in the process records a beautiful time capsule of pre-Amazon, post-millennium Seattle. His second feature was the 2007 documentary Zoo, which tells the story of a Boeing engineer who died after receiving anal sex from a horse in Enumclaw.
However many awards he wins in the film world, Mudede is stubbornly wrong about the chocolate popcorn at Cinerama, which most people at The Stranger regard as a miracle combo of salty and sweet. "No, I will not eat that chocolate-covered popcorn. I think it's an example of what's wrong with our society," Mudede said. "It's the production of new crap we don't need... So much ingenuity went into it. People sat around, thought it up, put it together, tested it, sold it. They could have been looking for a planet or something."
Just as he was going on about this, Eli Sanders leaned over his cubicle wall and told me that he loves the chocolate popcorn at Cinerama.
"I like it," said Sanders, who has a Pulitzer Prize. "I'm not going to apologize. Not even to Charles."
"Well, you'll have to tell god about that," Mudede laughed loudly across the room.
Before Sanders could respond, another colleague, Rich Smith, interjected: "But what about the mix?"
"At Cinerama, they offer a mix. You don't have to get all chocolate or all butter," Smith explained.
Buttered popcorn and chocolate popcorn in the same bucket?
"In the same bucket! The chocolate one tastes like Cocoa Puffs. The butter one just tastes like the best butter popcorn you've ever had. Both clouds. Chocolate clouds and butter clouds. In your mouth. While you're watching an amazing movie on 70 millimeter film," Smith said. "Charles is wrong."
Is this right? Can one waltz in and demand a mix of chocolate and plain? Nathalie Graham, who has a "labor intensive" relationship with popcorn after working at both an AMC theater ("hell on earth") and Cinerama ("the best job on earth"), confirmed that you can in fact get both types of popcorn in the same bag.
"I think it's good with the mix—but really what you have to do is ask for your own ratio," Nathalie said. "I would do 75 percent regular unbuttered popcorn with a layer of chocolate popcorn. And the people at Cinerama are happy to do that—at least I was, because I like it when people know what they want. It's better than people hemming and hawing about their popcorn."
Not everyone is as nuts about Cinerama's popcorn. Asked for her favorite movie-theater popcorn, Katie Herzog said, "I guess the Egyptian. Purely because they have nutritional yeast." Stranger art director Jessica Stein said, "I think chain theaters have the best popcorn," naming AMC Pacific Place, Regal Meridian 16, and Cinemark, before adding, "The smaller theaters just don't have the same salty, oily, buttery taste I crave. If I don't need napkins lining my lap to protect my pants from all the oil, then it's not buttery enough."
As for me, I prefer cooking popcorn at home. It's the best way to season my cast-iron skillet.