Popcorn is a very common purchase in movie theaters. For some, it’s even inevitable. To be able to keep the customers satisfied, movie theaters need to keep an ideal level of available popcorn.


In diagram 1 we see that the projected sales affect directly the goal level of popcorn. The discrepancy between this goal and the popcorn sales that reduces the inventory is the balancing feedback that makes the movie theater purchase more ingredients (corn, butter, salt).

In diagram 2, the system takes into consideration the waste both of ingredients (e.g. corn that didn’t pop) and popcorn that was not sold. The original inventory has two possible destinations: sales or waste.

In diagram 3, popcorn is seen in a bigger scenario since its not the only product sold in the theater snack bar thus not the only stock that affects profit. Customers are the regulating valves of the final sale. To get to the profit, we have two regulators: fixed and variable costs. In the diagram, ideal inventory is also taken into consideration and it’s part of the fixed costs.


The dirty dishes system is apparently a finite system where the total of dishes is constant. Sometimes we have more clean dishes than dirty dishes but the amount of clean dishes (or dirty dishes for that matter) cannot be larger than the total amount of dishes. Washing dishes and dish usage obviously regulate the quantities of both dirty and clean dishes.

However, we can always add a solution to the limit number of available dishes: disposable dishes. Whenever we reach a critical disproportion of dirty dishes and the dishwashing rate is not keeping up, we can either buy a pack of disposable dishes, order delivery, eat out, etc.

In this scenario, the popcorn system affects directly the washing rate and the dirtying rate. It’s not uncommon to avoid household responsibilities either by going out (i.e. going to the movies and eating popcorn) or just using disposable containers (i.e. microwaveable popcorn). In this way, by eating popcorn we can avoid making dishes dirty and negligence in dish washing can be tolerated a little longer.


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