Which side of the cinema or theatre snack fence to you stand on? Maybe you spend your movies death-staring the couple two rows in front of you, who seem to have a compulsive crisp packet-rustling disorder. Or perhaps you're that guy who waits for the quiet bit, then shoves an entire fistful of popcorn in his mouth and begins chewing.
These snacking divides may soon be conquered, thanks to a new, anti-crunch and rustle-free brand of movie and theatre snacks.
Launched this week by ticketing app TodayTix, the "Silent Snacks" range of specially designed theatre foods includes ground popcorn, cocoa butter balls, dehydrated fruit slices, and an "Anti-Gas" grapefruit drink. We'll leave you to imagine what kind of noise the last one aims to reduce.
We got in touch with Polly Betton, one of the team behind Silent Snacks, to find out if dried fruit can really change the future of noise-free snacking.
MUNCHIES: Hi Polly, so why are loud snacks at the theatre or cinema so annoying? Surely they're part of the charm? Polly Betton: We do a project called Edible Cinema, so we've spent a number of years being very aware of the sounds that food and packaging makes and how it can impact the experience of watching a film.
I think there's also a syndrome where you really hate the sound that people make when they're eating and I definitely have it. I can't cope with someone slurping tea next to me in the morning. It makes me absolutely murderous. So, I'm probably a good candidate for this project!
Is there a particular "noisy" food that you hate when you're at the theatre or cinema? There's a range of things. In some cases it's really crackly packaging and in other cases it's the noise of people crunching. If there's a quiet moment, it's really the last thing that you want to be hearing.
How did you go about developing the range? We worked with the obvious things that annoy people in the cinema or theatre and what spoils a customer experience. From there, I had a chat with our chef about how we could rethink those items in such a way that they would be quieter but still palatable and taste nice.
After that it was a bit of a trial and error process because you start doing one thing and it might not work the way you think it's going to.
What type of techniques did you try out before coming up with the final range? Popcorn was quite difficult. The obvious way to down the sound of popcorn was to make it wet. But if you make it wet, it's really gruesome to eat. We tried coating it with cocoa butter which is the main component of white chocolate but it was quite greasy. Then our chef decided to deconstruct it which worked really well. It's still recognisably a popcorn serve but not in the form that we usually know it.
With the crisps, we tried doing a fruit roll-up type thing and cutting out circles but it wasn't crisp-like enough. So, we dehydrated pear slices until they were just bendy enough to be pleasant but not too crisp.
You've also given packaging a makeover. Talk me through that. We went mostly with fabric like drawstring bags because paper bags make an enormous noise. We found a really amazing supplier in the US who sold these things called Silipints, which are these very solid, silicone pint glasses that don't make any noise at all. They're brilliant. We paired those with the drinks which reduce gastric noises.
Do you think silent snacks and peaceful packaging could take off and become widespread? It would be nice if it did. Also, the materials used in the packaging are reusable, more easy to recycle, and in the grand scheme of things a lot less destructive than some of the existing packaging that we have.
We've had a few people say that the food is really delicious and they appreciate that it's not going to be as noisy. Obviously, if someone's a really loud eater, it's quite hard to stop them making a racket with it! Also, when you're sitting and eating a loud snack in the cinema or theatre, you're aware that you're making a racket. And you can't always predict when there's going to be a quiet spot, so it can be quite embarrassing.
It's not just about grumpy people like me, it's also about considerate people who don't want to make a noise but can still sit and have a snack.
Thanks for talking to me, Polly.