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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

King Kloud: The Movie

We went to see King Kong over the weekend. Like many busy professionals, I enjoy going to the movies to escape the day-to-day routine and work pressures for a few hours. And with King Kong running over 3 hours, I was looking forward to 3-plus hours of entertainment.

As luck would have it, King Kong turned out to be King Kloud, sending me straight into the flatulence zone. You see, about 10 minutes into the first scene, someone in the general vicinity of our party started releasing a steady stream of methane into the theater.

At first I paid no attention to it. But it became unpleasant after withstanding an hour of it. I was on the verge of entering the fully-annoyed zone when I reminded myself that some people can’t help it.

By the second hour, whoever was “behind” the odor was becoming bolder, and started ripping them out loud. Literally. I clearly heard what sounded like a huge zipper being zipped.

Now THAT was rude, and they could have controlled it with a little effort and concentration. Still, the experience got me thinking about what movie foods could have possibly given this person such a bad case of uncontrollable gas.

Three suspects immediately came to mind (and all are not generally recognized by movie-goers as fart fodder): sugar-free soda, popcorn, and sugar-free candies. Their potency is amplified when they’re consumed together, as diabetics and dieters are likely to do at the movies.

Sugar-free candies are made with sugar alcohols, which cause extremely smelly gas, cramping, and/or the runs in a large percentage of the population. That’s why so many diabetics are gassy. They eat foods with sugar-free sweeteners, most if not all of which are sweetened with sugar alcohols.

Sugar-free sodas are also made with sugar substitutes. Combine the effects of soda carbonation (which is a gas) with the effects of artificial sweeteners that produce methanol – which metabolize into methane – and the results are audible.

Then there’s the popcorn. Operative word: CORN. It’s hard for the body to break down, which is why you'll see corn (or popcorn) kernels in your stool. They pass through your body completely intact.

Furthermore, popcorn is rich in natural sugars. Indeed, corn is where we get corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup from (hence the reason we call it “corn” syrup). The popcorn we eat at the movies is the starchy response of what happens when the sugars inside it are heated until they “pop” .

Combine something that’s hard to digest – popcorn – with easily fermentable sugar, carbonation, and sugar-free candy loaded with sugar alcohols, and you have a recipe for some serious methane production.

My advice for movie goers who suffer with gas problems: avoid the sugar-free candies and drinks, and swear off the popcorn while you’re at it.

Lastly, sit as close to the screen as you can, as methane rises rapidly. If you do happen to sit near a chronic gasser, you won’t suffer as much as those poor folks in the upper rows.


  • ~ Anonymous erockey said …

    hey bill i think i was that guy you sat near! i was ripping them all night saturday night because i had a mcdonald's chocolate shake in the afrternoon for some reason they give me MAJOR gas that last for HOURS, and usually ends up at the end of the day as a huge bathroom issue!!!! i dont know why it does that to me, but it does ... no stomach pain at all, but WHEW do i get the gas!!!! (grin) hey you fiorgot to mention when you add sodas, all sorts of candy, tacos, hot dogs, and more...it becomes pharrrtalicious!!!!! RED MEAT is notoriously hard to digest.

  • ~ Anonymous diabeticdeb said …

    I have Type 1 Diabetes, and in all these years, nobody ever explained to me why I always had gas. THANK YOU BILL DOWNS.

  • ~ Anonymous Ripping Roger said …

    I've been reading your blog and have found it to be very insightful. After reading your King Kloud posting, I went to the movies the other night and avoided eating the popcorn, the coke and sugar free candy. I normally have awful gas after eating all three of these. Thank you Bill Downs. It's great to have someone out there talking about this subject matter.


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