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If you're going to smuggle in popcorn, try these 10 fun toppings while you're at it [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Summer blockbuster season is upon us, with all of the CGI explosions, heaving bosoms, car chases, and alien invaders that Hollywood can possibly conjure taking over the silver screen. (Oh, and Woody Allen has a new movie, too.) I'm not complaining —as a lifelong subscriber to Entertainment Weekly (yeah, I said it) and a serious Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture buff, I do take a certain delight in plopping down in a dark, air-conditioned room to revel in movie magic, however mindless. Plus: snacks!

I will not disclose one way or another whether I bring my own snacks in to the theater,* but I will list my favorite snacks overall: Junior Mints, Reese's Pieces (a holdover from my ET days), and Peanut M&Ms. Popcorn is rarely my go-to, but when I do get it, you can bet I'm loading that tub up with fake butter and salt. Interestingly, I almost never eat any of those concessions outside of a movie theater —if there's any candy I crave in natural light, it's a Snickers bar.

Asking other Serious Eaters about their movie-snack habits touched a nerve—here's a selection of responses:

  • Tracie: "ALL OF THE THINGS! Pretzel bites! Even the disgusting nachos, I love. And SnoCaps, even though they're terrible and stale 99% of the time. Usually I hate M&Ms but I'll eat them at the movies. Won't go near the hotdogs, though."
  • Leandra: "It was ingrained in me as a child to never EVER EVER buy candy, popcorn or anything else AT the movie theater. "Overpriced!!!" I always wanted to but we never did. We always stopped at the supermarket and got something like apples or something else rude, courtesy of my mom. As soon as I could drive, everything changed. Greatest movie snack of all time? PICK AND MIX CANDY!!! Our local theater didn't have it, but my friends and I would literally drive 45 minutes out of the way in high school to fill little paper white bags full of stale gummies, Reese's Cups and other questionable chocolate-covered things, accidentally making it too heavy and paying like $9.50. Always consumed before the previews ended. These days I can't afford to go to the movies unless it's a matinee (which is still coming in at a cool $8!!) For these 10 a.m. films, I usually bring a bagel. Mmm, moviebagel."
  • Maggie: "Junior Mints—eaten the RIGHT way, which is nibbling the chocolate off first."
  • Niki: "Milk Duds! I secretly kinda like it when they're stale because it takes me longer to get through them? But there's one thing that I literally only EVER eat in movie theaters, and that's Snow Caps. I think my first box happened when I went to see Cool Runnings (yeah...1993, man. Cool freakin' Runnings). The two are forever linked in my mind, an unbreakable bond forged of complete, total, and utter awesomeness. And Jamaica."
  • Ed: "I'm afraid I have eaten a Gray's Papaya Recession Special in a movie theater, yes. I too am a smuggler: Fairway popcorn or dark chocolate Peanut Butter Cups."
  • Kenji: "I LOVE MOVIE THEATER POPCORN WITH AN UNDYING PASSION. I can't not get it no matter how full I am. When I was ten years old I went to see Robocop 2 with my uncle, who thought its be a good idea to get me the bucket of popcorn I asked for. And there's nothing worse than when you get buttery golden topping only on the upper layers, leaving you with dry popcorn underneath. So he asked the concession lady for an extra small cup filled with topping so I could add a second layer as I worked my way down. Needless to say, I puked in the aisle just as Faxx inserts Cain's brain into Robocop 2. No regrets, I'd do it again in a minute."

*Is that actually a crime? Someone else in our office, who shall remain nameless, actually said, "I like to make popcorn at home and bring it with me," which seems way more offensive than smuggling in a box of Junior Mints.

About the author: Jamie Feldmar is a noodle aficionado, barbecue lover, and the managing editor of Serious Eats. You can follow her on Twitter at @jfeldmar.

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