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Your Cud Chewing is Ruining Broadway

I can hear gum snapping at a hundred yards. I don’t mind people chewing gum around me, so long as their mouths are closed, but gum-snapping is like nails on a chalkboard times 100 for me. Gum snapping is the most whorish (legal) public activity possible.

This evening us Gottliebs attended Phantom of the Opera on Broadway at the Majestic Theater. It was a very good show (not great, but I’m not doing a review today), and the kids loved it.

I had a few issues with the people around us.

Behind me and to my right was a family of four that included two teenage girls. For the first 40 minutes of the show, all I could hear was gum-snapping. When I turned around for the third time with my finger at my lips they finally got it. Apparently, this family of cud chewers is no longer able to hear each other’s mastication. Perhaps it’s so constant that it’s become white noise.

The last half hour of the first act was lovely, and mostly silent from behind me.

Then came the intermission.

America is so in love with our endless snacks that vendors now come to your seat baseball park style to sell you licorice, Skittles, M&M’s, and peanuts. We are a nation of gluttons who are unable to sit in a seat and passively watch other people entertain us without piling high fructose corn syrup, sugar, fat, and salt into our gaping maws.

The man behind me and to my left yelled out to his wife, “Get me some peanuts.”

I wanted to throttle him. I knew I was going to have a second act of chomping, slurping, and throat clearing. Peanuts leave your throat scratchy. He met my expectations and then some. The second act was music, singing, the sounds of snack bags being opened, and a dozen Americans chewing with their mouths open. Lovely.

I am curious what the theaters are thinking. I recall spending my childhood sneaking a half roll of butterscotch lifesavers into the Philharmonic and getting in trouble for it. I don’t know when we decided that food has to be a part of every experience, or why it’s appropriate to sit munching in what should be a silent room. I’d pay extra for a theater that didn’t serve food in any form.

Our relationship with food is a dysfunctional one.

31 thoughts on “Your Cud Chewing is Ruining Broadway”

  1. Someday I wish my fatass makes it to see a broadway show, especially Phantom. I agree that food shouldn’t be served inside the theater. For the price of admission it isn’t right to have to hear the rustling of wrappers and chomping of peanuts. That’s just bad form, no matter the size of one’s ass.

    1. I think folks are missing the real story here, she seems to be complaining about everybody around her.. maybe instead of them, it’s just her.

  2. Oh ack. Okay, so I have a weight problem. Mine isn’t typical – mostly prescription side-effects and the pitfall of having chronic pain.
    But that aside – you’ve hit on one of *my* pet peeves. Can’t stand this type of behavior. And can’t stand the sound of it either. (Too the point of sudden, angry outbursts at strangers who think that it’s perfectly okay to compete volume-wise with whatever entertainment we have paid to see.)
    Seriously – when did bringing food into a theater become okay? It’s not allowed here in Denver when those shows are on the road. Surprised to hear it’s now okay on Broadway. Ick.

      1. Excuses! 20 pounds is still extra weight, right? How do you know that the obese “fatty” is not also on medication? You can’t have it both ways, fatty. Get off your ass and MOVE!

  3. I think two different things were attacked here. Rudeness and obesity. The attack on overweight people was cruel and didn’t have anything to do with your theater experience. You saw an opportunity to take your shot and so you did.

    As for eating in the theater, I agree 100%. Its not a ball game, its theater. no food should be allowed. I also wish people wouldn’t talk during a performance, wear loud bangly bracelets, get up to go to the rest room while some one is singing, or anything else that interferes with my complete immersion into what is happening on stage. Ushers, please remind people of this! Playbill – include a list of “DO’s” and “Don’t” because a lot of patrons are not aware of theater etiquette. And theaters, stop selling food!

    “Fat” people aren’t the only ones making noise, there is no need to single them out!

      1. so skinny people making noise ok? fat people doing anything not ok?…and your cruelty, insensitivity, and judgement is going to harass them into losing weight? really? lose your twenty b4 you start throwing stones. oh wait – you have an excuse…..

        1. It’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation, and it’s a HUGE problem. One of the worst things you can do with arthritis is be overweight and inactive.

          Now that I’ve got it somewhat under control I’m back to moving, and now that I’m off huge doses of prednisone I expect the unquenchable thirst and bloating to jump start my weight loss.

          That being said, I’m still in a normal weight range, thank you for your concern.

          If the world had anorexia I’d be screaming EAT A HAMBURGER! but that’s not what’s going on, we’re killing ourselves with too much food, and no one is even enjoying it.

          For the love of gawd, just sit, take a look at your food and enjoy the tastes. You’ll eat less of it than you will if you’re doing a hundred other things at the same time.

          Also, didn’t a whole lot of people stop smoking when the world stopped pretending they didn’t smell bad? Just sayin….

  4. Americans chewing with their mouths open has nothing to do with the size of their thighs!

    Skinny people, lean people, chubby people, obese people, toned people, athletic people, fat people, all can be lazy, lovely, smart, foolish, rude, piggish, priggish, prudish, judgmental, compassionate, funny, noisy eaters, silent eaters, empathetic, bullish, etc…

    The theaters are selling food because food sales equals money.

    Eating food makes noise and if the theaters are selling it then they are okay with that.

    If patrons don’t like it then they need to complain to and about the theater’s policies – complaining about someone’s chins is missing the issue entirely.

  5. Say it ain’t so! Food inside theatre for Broadway Shows? You mean the high dollar price for the tickets is not good enough? They want to make more money from the high margin food like in a movie theatre? Oh but you don’t pay $50+ to see a movie. This is ridiculous.

  6. Let me preface by saying that I’m from Europe, living in the U.S., and have never understood the American “tradition” of eating during music shows, plays, and even sport events (can’t you wait a few hours until your next meal? come on!). I’m also on the thin side.

    However, I think that the tone of this article is very inadequate when you focus your complain on fat people. I see people of normal weight doing the exact thing you describe all. the. time.

    You don’t have to be fat to disturb your neighbors with gum snapping, chomping, slurping and throat clearing. Just rude.

    I was lucky to have attended Phantom of the Opera on Broadway two years ago, BEFORE vendors were allowed to come sell food during intermission.

  7. This is absolutely unacceptable in my opinion and I’m pretty sure I would have embarrassed my entire family by asking them all to quiet the hell down. I agree with some here that there are plenty of rude, gum smacking, loud people who are NOT fat, but seriously? Take a look around and challenge youself to NOT find a fat or obese person in your vicinity. It is a serious problem and if they weren’t buying the CRAP at the theater and demanded healthier choices, it would change.
    Also Jessica….I’d love to meet you in person someday, but please be kind because I’m *blessed* with a genetically gifted big ass.

    1. I would have asked them to quiet down too – even if they were thin, average or fat! Then, when I related the story, I would not have included any reference to their race, weight, religion, etc…, because those types references have NO relation to the point.

      I would have asked to speak to the theatre manager and lodged a complaint about selling food IN the theatre and thus creating the problem.

      Just because they were fat or there are a lot of fat people are around though has NOTHING to do with this fallacious argument!!

      You think that ALL people who are overweight, even those gifted with genetically large body parts, have to eat constantly? Come on.

      1. Oh but it is related. We don’t get fat by accident. It is from excessive eating of crap and since I do have to work at maintaining a healthy weight, I get it! It’s way harder to exercise and prepare fresh, healthy meals than it is to stuff processed crap in your mouth. Americans love things easy and convenient.

  8. This is a false premise and I am a bit surprised that not only was it presented this way but you keep defending it!

    Three things are tied up in your false premise:

    1. You are concerned about obesity.
    2. You don’t like it when people eat during a live performance.
    3. You don’t like it when people behave in what you perceive as a rude manner.

    None of them are connected.

    Did the theatre only sell food to fat people?!

    You think people stopped smoking because everyone stop pretending that it smelled bad?!

    1. They absolutely are connected. We have a collective eating disorder, it’s obesity, and without too much food it simply wouldn’t exist.

      Yes, I think people stopped smoking as much in large part because it was difficult to do (no smoking indoors and whatnot) and because they were ashamed of their behavior.

      1. So using your reasoning, I guess you would agree with this:

        I went to a live performance. The 9 year-old behind me was eating loudly during the performance and it really bugged me. 9 year-olds are ruining live performances.

        You don’t think that the truth the that nicotine companies worked so hard to hide that was finally revealed had anything to do with smoking rates beginning to decline?

        1. Our terrible relationship with food is the problem. A nine year old should be able to sit for a few hours without eating.

          There is no reason to have your hand stuffed into a bag of food while you are passively entertained.

          THAT is why we are all fat.

          Mindless eating is a problem. Have a meal, set the table, eat real food in smaller portions.

          The food industry is EXACTLY like the tobacco industry. From partially hydrogenated fats to high fructose corn syrup, they’re in the business of selling cheap, addictive poisons.

          I GET that no one wants to be called fat, but the sky is blue, and we are getting fatter and fatter. Pretending that it’s okay hasn’t really done anyone any good, has it?

          1. Sadly, your real concern (obesity) is lost in your fallacious argument.

            The type of argument that you put forth is exactly the type that Fox Faux news uses; “Muslims attacked “us” on 9/11. Muslims hate “us”. Muslims are ruining America.” “Gays are against the Bible. America is a Christian country. Gays are ruining America.”

            If there is anything ruining America, it’s people who loudly spout these types of arguments and the fools that jump on the bandwagon.

            If you were offended simply by the fact that we as a society seemingly can’t be entertained without eating, then why include “when I saw his chins and giant thighs…”?

            What would have happened if the people behind you were thin? Would you still be complaining? Is it just more entertaining because they were fat?

            “Pretending that it’s okay hasn’t really done anyone any good, has it?” – so eating while being passively entertained is okay as long as the people eating are thin?

  9. No it’s not the nine year old. It’s the parent allowing/encouraging the behavior. Kids need us and count on us to take care of them and keep them safe and healthy. We are failing them.

  10. I heard Mike Huckabee the other day (in response to Sarah Palin’s mocking Michelle Obama’s campaign against obesity) say, “If you’re an adult, walk into any 3rd grade classroom and take a look around. Now go home and get out your 3rd grade class picture. You will notice a startling contrast.”

    I see it in the grocery stores and places like Target or Wal-Mart in this form: WHEN did a quarter of the shopping population require sit-down scooters to do their shopping?

    Lazy, spoiled, American pigs.

    Yes, American, as Chris M from Europe makes clear, above.

  11. Are we airing our grievances over how out of control circumstances have become? Because I want to register my vote concerning WHY DOES EVERY PUBLIC PLACE HAVE TO BLAST MUSIC AT ME? I can remember eating a club sandwich at a department store tearoom with my mother when the only sound was murmured conversation. Am I going to be reduced to carrying earplugs in my wallet?

    Oh, and the food in theaters thing? Attending a concert or play used to be an elegant experience. Now it’s kind of like going to a ball game.

  12. The performing arts center I grew up visiting does not allow food in the seating area. The ushers are very diligent about this. At intermission you have to do quite a bit of traveling to find a beverage or snack anyway…by the time you leave the mezzanine & get to the tiny refreshment bar the lights are flickering…And you race back up (the elevators are for wheelchairs & the elderly) the stairs, going as quickly as you can in your borrowed high heels, realizing you went up the wrong set of stairs & ended up opposite your seat…and then race around while the ushers (too old to stop you, but scary enough to make you slow down) make faces at you, and *almost* refuse to let you back into your seating area b/c the curtains have already come up.

  13. I agree completely with GreenInOC. While you make a valid point about the general rudeness of eating with one’s mouth open/clicking gum, said point is lost in the blatant nastiness of your attack on overweight people. It’s true that the weight issue in America needs to be addressed, but you do a poor job in rationally addressing it and it comes off as petty, (veiled), hatred. What if the gentleman was healthy looking and athletically built? Would you have been so enraged by his action? I get the feeling that you wouldn’t have been, because to you, he would have been in the clear.

    My main point: You mentioned that you’ve got 20 extra pounds. Whether or not there’s a medical reason for that extra weight, that won’t make a dime of difference to the strangers around you that could be going “wow, look at that fat-ass”, especially if you are trying to lose it all. So, be more sensitive in your thinking next time. “Embracing” isn’t a bad thing if the change is made to think, speak and act constructively.

  14. In London, they also serve ice cream and candies during all of the theatre intermissions. Not just the big shows but even at the smaller slightly off-West End shows. They come right into the theatre and stand just inside the door (in addition to going out to the lobby to get snacks/drinks). I always thought it was the oddest thing – even after three years of living there it always surprised me to see these vendors pop through the door as soon as the intermission lights went up. I just sipped my wine (also allowed in the theatre) and let the tourists enjoy their candies. It’s not just in America…Although, to your point, nothing in a crinkly loud bag that requires any type of crunching noise should be served in a theatre.

  15. You’re rude.
    I mean, so were the people behind you.
    You don’t know them. And the way you categorized(as it seems to me) ALL Americans as lazy fat slobs.
    And yes, people can be fat and healthy. 
    I’m sorry that the people were rude behind you, that would annoy the hell out of me as well.
    I understand you are venting, but you judged Americans based on these rude people behind you.
    Calm yo tits.

  16. Wait, nevermind. You’re an american.. LOL I FEEL STUPID
    But srsly. 
    It’s not really fair. And you say you’re concerned, but what it looks like to me is hate of all people with this physical attribute.

  17. It’s funny.  I am a large man who is a musical theater senior in college.  I have a phenomenal gift, and though I try, I cannot seem to lose this weight.  I was searching the internet for some glimmer of hope that there may be evidence of larger people on Broadway before I devote time and money to pursuing my talents in New York, and I find this article and lose a little faith.  Thanks.

  18. this is the most pretentious article that I have ever read. Being entirely honest, I would read this as a comedy monologue because it is just THAT funny. I hope you stop being so closed minded to larger people and stay out of theaters if your going to use art as an excuse to bully people.

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