POP Goes The Free Stuff Barb to Begin Charging for Popcorn

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The best things in life are no longer free if Barb Kreider has anything to say about it. Starting today, she will be charging students 25¢ for popcorn.

Dr. Kreider says she is “happy to be that person who gives a quick snack,” often offering chocolate, fruit, or popcorn for free in her classroom, known by many students as somewhat of a snack haven. But due to rapid consumption, her three-year offer of free popcorn to students and advisees is coming to an end.

“In three days last week I went through…132 bags,” she said regarding how quickly her popcorn is devoured. Though she has about 90 students and 9 advisees, she often sees faculty and unfamiliar faces stopping by to snag some snacks. “That’s not the problem…..Everyone is very polite and sweet…I’m just trying to limit consumption.”

In addition to students and teachers, advisees will also have to pay the 25¢ popcorn toll. This is actually to protect them: during the barbecue club cookout, where students paid $5 for all-you-can-eat hamburgers and hot dogs, she observed students pressuring their friends who had paid to get them food for free, and she doesn’t want the same fate to befall her advisees. “I don’t want to put them in an awkward situation where they have to either say no to their friends or steal food and give it to them.”

After discovering that some students come in on weekends and microwave the popcorn without her knowledge or consent, she will hide the popcorn and money over the weekend.

In addition to the quarter-dollar flat tax, Barb will also accept IOUs and up-front deposits, which she will log on a spreadsheet. The proceeds collected will go to Oxfam, a global organization “working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice” according to its website.

As to why popcorn is so popular, Barb credits it with “having the right mouth feel, quick calories students want, and it’s grab and go…all things students will learn in my food science class.”

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