The following is a "re-post" of a "classic" from my archives. The concept of the reusable popcorn bucket is one of the most disturbing and disgusting marketing schemes to come along in quite some time...
"Kick" the Bucket...
Today's Notable Quote: "Can you believe what they're doing with that refillable popcorn bucket?" - Overheard in the concession line at the local Carmike Theater this past weekend.
Buy a "refillable" plastic popcorn bucket for only $8.00 - and get 50-cent refills on each return visit to the theater during the coming year!
Initial response? WOW! In the land of unrealistically high-priced candy, food and beverage--i.e. the local movie theater...this sounds like a great deal...a response followed by looking at the people in line--in our case, an acne-faced concession-seeking patron who scratched his face and other areas of his anatomy with the plastic popcorn bucket, before putting it on his head. At this point, our initial excitement was replaced with the sobering realization that hordes of strangers will be bringing buckets from their various abodes to be dipped into the common trough alongside our popcorn bag or bucket. Hmmm.
As a student of human nature and safe food handling practices, I have learned a few facts that cause me to look at the bucket offering with something less than full-out enthusiasm. In the interest of the public health and welfare, I will share a few of my observations and a possible solution to the bucket dilemma.
Regarding foodborne illness - directly related to safe food handling:
1. Each year in the U.S. , approximately 75,000,000 - or about 1 in 4 citizens contracts some form of foodborne illness - often mistaken for intestinal flu or other illness.
2. Nearly 325,000 Americans are hospitalized due to something they ate which was improperly prepared, or mishandled during serving.
3. An estimated 5,000 deaths result from mishandled or contaminated food consumed by individuals in the U.S. each year.
Regarding human nature:
Are the individuals taking steps to insure the proper cleaning and sanitation of their popcorn buckets prior to and during transport to the concession line?
Are the service clerks behind the counter taking the steps necessary to provide clean, safe, contaminant-free popcorn to each patron(washing their hands, wearing disposable gloves, etc.)?
I could go on and on, but won't, in the interest of your ability to enjoy lunch or dinner.
Regarding a possible solution:
For now, I suggest "kicking the bucket" - and probably adhering to the TPAP (Theater Popcorn Abstinence Plan). Were I in charge of concessions, a simple solution would be to implement the sanitation protocol described above, along with providing disposable liners for use by the refillable bucket bearers. Of course, along with these steps, I would clean the restrooms on a regular schedule, teach the staff basic principles of customer engagement, etc., etc.