A trip to the cinema is now almost the same thing as going wholesale junk-food shopping

To the sugar epicurean, what's happening on the screen is of only incidental interest

Share
Related Topics

On the same day I discovered that Britain has a higher percentage of obese adults than any other European country, I went to the cinema (to see the new Woody Allen film, since you ask). It was the Odeon in Oxford, an establishment just like hundreds of others throughout the land. And, like everywhere else, if you wanted a sweet treat, or a soft drink, to take in with you as an accompaniment to Woody's sharp social observation, you had to buy it in wholesale quantities. Cartons of popcorn as voluminous as coal bunkers; cardboard cups of Coca Cola the size of milk churns.

This is a land of Brobdingnagian portions, where regular means enormous and large means... well, frankly absurd. You could consume your entire daily allowance of calories before the trailers had finished. So it was with some interest that I noticed, as I was queuing up, a standard-sized tube of Smarties. Perfect. And how sensible, I thought. I can't be the only cinema goer in the country who finds the size of the usual offerings off-putting, and at last they're giving us something more manageable and, indeed, appetising.

Not only that, here's an entertainment conglomerate which is taking the obesity epidemic seriously, and deciding to downsize rather than supersize. So with my little tube of Smarties, I made my way to the till. The server looked at me incredulously. Are you serious? She explained that the Smarties were not on sale. What? Well, not quite. They weren't on sale on their own. They could only be bought as a package which included a soft drink and a pantechnicon-sized box of popcorn. But I don't want the popcorn, I said. You have to have the popcorn, she said. And so it went on, rather like, appropriately enough given the setting, the scene in Five Easy Pieces when a young Jack Nicholson is trying to order a chicken salad sandwich without the salad. And indeed the chicken.

Hold the popcorn, I said, I just want the Smarties. (By this time, I would willingly have paid £5 for my perfectly-proportioned snack.) So far from instituting a regime to strike a blow against obesity, Odeon appeared to be doing the opposite. Yes, you can have a lovely little tube of Smarties. But only if you eat your own body weight in popcorn.

It is hard enough to navigate one's path through the maze of sugary temptations - did you know that a typical coffee frappuccino contains half the recommended daily amount of sugar? - without trouble being put in our way by a cinema chain with an eye on its bottom line, no matter what it does to the bottoms of the nation. A friend of mine told me that she used to go to a picture house in America - the land of the free, and the home of the obese - where they sold carrot sticks. Can you imagine that? You're trying to concentrate on Cate Blanchett's tour de force and there's someone chomping carrots in your ear. It's as much of a nightmare as someone holding up the queue arguing over a tube of Smarties.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Product Owner - Business Analyst

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Product Owner/Business Analyst is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Quality Technician

£28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

Recruitment Genius: Java Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity for an ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Pressure is growing on Chris Grayling to abandon the Government bid to advise Saudi Arabia on running its prisons (Getty)  

What in sanity’s name is Chris Grayling doing in the job of Justice Secretary?

Matthew Norman
Health workers of the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres take part in training  

Are we starting to see the end of Ebola? Not quite, but we're well on our way

Tom Solomon
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea