How many giant cola bottles in 100g? This and other important pick & mix questions answered...

These days, pick & mix tends to be sold in cups at a fixed price rather than weighed out in a bag - so you pay the same no matter how tightly you pack the sweet treats inside. Yet for traditionalists, there's usually an option to pay 'per 100g', which I think begs the question: where are the weighing scales?

Often there are no scales provided, so you have to rely on your instincts and/or abstract thinking ability to know what 100g would feel like in the hand. In my experience, this only leads to a shock when you go to pay for what you’ve picked - 100g really isn’t as much as you might think (roughly the weight of a bar of soap, if that helps).

For a bit of fun, and to remove some of the guesswork, I’ve done a bit of number crunching. Based on the price of 100g of pick & mix at my local Odeon cinema and Tesco Supermarket, I weighed a selection of pick & mix sweets at home (where I do have weighing scales), then figured out the individual cost of each sweet.

Prices do vary, and my method wasn't particularly scientific, so this is only a very rough guide...

Type of sweet, individual weight (g) Cinema price per sweet
(£1.55 per 100g)
Supermarket price per sweet
(85p per 100g)
Giant jelly snake, 56g 87p 48p
Fizzy belt, 53g 82p 45p
Giant cola bottle, 25g 39p 21p

Strawberry cable, 19g 29p 16p
Fudge block, 15g 23p 13p

Sugared strawberry, 12g 19p 10p
Milk teeth, 10g 16p 9p
White/pink mouse, 8g 12p 7p
Fried egg, 7g 11p 6p

Sour cherries, 7g 11p 6p
Large jazzie, 6g 9p 5p
Blue bon-bon, 5g 8p 4p
Blackberry/raspberry, 5g 8p 4p
Mini egg, 4g 6p 3p
Fizzy cola bottle, 4g 6p 3p
Gummy bear, 3g 5p 3p
Smartie-alike 'beanie', 1g 2p 1p
Jelly bean, 1g 2p 1p

The fact the cinema's price was 80% higher will surprise no one, as it's well-known cinemas make their money on drinks and snacks, and prices like these are fairly typical across all the major chains. What perhaps isn’t common knowledge is how quickly you pass the 100g mark (especially in the absence of a set of scales to guide you).

Just four large cola bottles will do it, or only two giant snakes are needed to hit 112g. Before this, I'd only been wary of the fudge blocks - which at a surprisingly svelte 15g each aren't the evil enemy I thought they were. So while my table isn't exhaustive, if like me you find the 100g thing a bit of a challenge, it's food for thought.

Isn't it better to buy pick & mix in a cup?

There’s one big advantage to buying pick & mix in a cup at a fixed price – there’s no risk of overfilling and being charged more than expected. The fact it ignores the weight of what you’ve picked can also work to your advantage. For example, let’s say you ram a large cup full with 10 giant snakes (assuming that many would fit in the cup) at 56g each, your cup would weigh 560g.

At the cinema I went to, a bag weighing this much would cost £8.68 while the cup price is fixed at £5.15 – though remember it can work both ways. If you only want a small amount of pick & mix (ie, less than a cup), it could work out cheaper to weigh a bag. Just be careful to avoid the heavier sweets and keep in mind that 100g is roughly the weight of a bar of soap, or a small apple/banana (whatever helps).

How else can I bag cheap pick & mix for a cinema trip?

The easiest way to save on pick & mix for the cinema is to buy it from anywhere else and take it into the screen with you. None of the major chains have rules against you doing this (see MSE Oli’s myth-busting cinema hacks), and buying sweets at the cinema is almost guaranteed to be the most expensive option of all.

Alternatively, and this may not be a popular suggestion (I appreciate for many there’s an amount of nostalgia/joy attached to pick & mix), but there are cheaper sweets you can take to the cinema with you. For example, in Tesco I spotted 85g packs of fizzy cola bottles and other pick & mix favourites at 40p each or three for £1.

Are you a fan of pick & mix sweets? Got any tips for saving money on snacks for the cinema? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.