A judge in Manhattan Civil Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed he hurt his tooth on an unpopped popcorn kernel while watching “Superbad” last year. Steve Kaplan sued American Multi-Cinema, the owner of the theater in which he saw the movie, seeking $1,250 for dental injuries he said the lurking kernel inflicted. The Associated Press reported today, however, that Judge Matthew Cooper dismissed the case, holding Kaplan could not have reasonably expected the theater to pop every last kernel.
The holding makes perfect sense. Popcorn scientists have learned the secrets of why some varieties of corn pop better than others—it involves the amount of moisture in the kernel’s endosperm and whether or not cellulose in the pericarp crystallizes sufficiently when heated. Sure, that may seem obvious, but it was apparently proven only recently. But even the best varieties still leave about 4 percent of kernels unpopped, and while researchers are working on that problem, too, for now there does not seem to be any technology that could reduce the unpopped percentage to zero.
It may also have hurt Kaplan’s credibility that he alleged “Superbad” was “awful.” Cinema researchers have given that movie two thumbs up, and it has long since been declared “awesome” as a matter of law.