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Sneak candy in the theater: Frugal or cheap?

Is it like taking your own food to a restaurant?

By Karen Datko Sep 11, 2009 5:56PM

It's once again time to take a break from the heavier issues of the day, and "Frugal Dad" gave us the respite we were looking for. Ponder this one: Is sneaking your own candy into the movie theater frugal or cheap?


This is an academic exercise for us because we don't really care for movie theater candy. (We've got our eye on the popcorn with extra butter.) But it's a real-life decision for Frugal Dad, and you might be surprised at the decision he reached.


Frugal Dad originally floated this question in a forum at our partner blog Wise Bread. He described how he'd gone to the $1-a-box aisle at a discount store to stock up before going to see the film. His wife called him cheap.


"Normally, I would thank her for the compliment, but this time her comment had me thinking," Frugal Dad said.

Readers had varying opinions, both at Wise Bread and at Frugal Dad's site, and some are very entertaining. Of course, frugalists suggested he rent the DVD and watch the movie at home.


We tend to agree with Elliott of 21st Century Dad, who said, "It's a cheapskate move for sure. It's like bringing your own food to a restaurant."


Frugal Dad decided that it's not only cheap but possibly illegal to sneak your own candy inside. We are capitalists, after all, he said, and the theater owner has the right to make money from candy sales.


If you want to save money, don't eat the candy. If you can afford it, go ahead and live large. "In the grand scheme of things, a box or two of movie candy or a large tub of popcorn is really not going to make or break us," he said.


Published June 18, 2008

Dec 3, 2011 7:17PM
Movie prices are expensive, and while I realize that the main profit for theaters comes from the concession stand, I refuse to pay those prices.  I bring my own bottled water (I can buy an entire case for one bottle from concession stand).  I have also brought in Dollar Store candy. To me it is being frugal...I am paying for the movie, which is why I am there.  I would not pay the concession  stand prices even if I did not bring my own drink and candy....
Dec 4, 2011 4:44PM

The theater food isn't the reason I'm going to the theater - seeing a movie is.  When I go to a sporting event, I'm not going for the food. I bring my own snacks to both. If I went into the theater and said I was there for the food, are they going to let me sit in a seat and eat the food I purchased, without paying for the movie ticket? Doubtful. The cost of the food isn't my issue, though I do think the markup is outrageous. If I want popcorn, I don't want corn popped in unhealthy hydrogenated oil (seriously, have you seen a barrel of that stuff?), covered in fake butter and loaded with sodium. I bring in air-popped corn, drizzled with a LITTLE bit of butter, water (sometimes still, sometimes fizzy), or myriad other healthier snacks than what are sold at the counter. 

Until the day arrives that a theater requires me to buy both a ticket and a concession in order to see the movie, I'll bring my own snacks. Both are sold separately and I shouldn't have to sacrifice healthy eating to avail myself of what a theater is there for:  showing movies.

I bring my own snacks on airline flights as well. Just because the airline sells snacks doesn't mean I should be forced to purchase them.  I bought a ticket for a flight. If I paid to check my bag, then I paid for a checked bag. If I choose not to pay for a la carte snack boxes, I shouldn't be precluded from providing my own.

Same with a movie theater. I bought a ticket to see a movie. The a la carte should be my choice to make.

Dec 4, 2011 10:16PM
It's not a restaurant.  It's a movie theatre so how can they not allow you to bring food just so they can charge outrageous prices for theirs?  If there was no food allowed at all, then fine but if I can eat their food I can eat mine.  I know they don't make a lot of money from the movie, but still.
Dec 5, 2011 3:13AM

But really 3.00 for a box of candy? come on

5.00 for a coke you can buy at costco for .50

And what about when your at a place that charged 10.00 a ticket?

Who can afford to take their children and then spend another 40.00 on snacks?


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