Most major theatre companies including Regal and AMC report that their popcorn and butter (or imitation butter) is gluten-free. Popcorn is just popped corn and it is gluten-free. The gluten in corn is not the kind that needs to be avoided by people who can’t tolerate gluten. Grits are corn but sometimes grits packages will be marked ‘may contain wheat’. That is due to the processing methods used at some plants – not due to corn being unsafe for those with gluten intolerance.
Most theatre chains use the same suppliers for their concession items so it’s unlikely that you’ll find any popcorn that is not gluten-free. However, if you go to a non brand name theatre, feel free to double check with them about the popcorn they serve. The seasoning salt, cooking oil and optional butter topping are the items to question. Theatre popcorn cooking oil generally doesn’t contain gluten as it’s usually coconut or canola oil. Both of those are gluten-free.
The one place you can eat food out in public that you don’t have to ask questions at is a movie theatre. This is assuming you don’t have a 100% gluten-free restaurant in your area. Theatres usually sell Coca-Cola soda products, which are gluten-free in the U.S. and there is usually a wide range of candy – much of which is gluten-free. So you can have popcorn, a Coke and some Raisinets and not ask one question about gluten. In fact, if you ask the teenager behind the counter if their popcorn is gluten-free, it would be surprising if they knew what you were talking about. For that reason, if you are unsure of the gluten-free status at the popcorn at your theatre, you should call the corporate office before going to the movies.
Many of us are watching movies at home these days and when we do – we like to have popcorn as well. Most, but not all, microwavable popcorn is also gluten-free. Read the label or check the website of your favorite brand. All Newman’s Own popcorn is gluten-free. Most U.S. manufacturers of microwavable popcorn seemed to have removed the weird chemical that causes the off condition called “popcorn lung”.
Enjoy the movies and your popcorn too! Thanks for the great questions – by sending them in, you’re helping others as well!
Have a question about the gluten-free diet which we haven’t covered yet? You can now submit your questions here! (Note: All medical questions should be directed to your physician)