All you have to do is take one look at the candy aisle in any Saudi grocery store. In some stores, it stretches the entire width! From front door to refrigerated poultry! There is every possible chocolate bar, fruity chew and gum flavor imaginable.
And right next door? The potato chip aisle. Chips from every country you can think of in flavors like the traditional sour cream and onion and the bizarre ketchup and jalapeño. And inside the same building as the grocery store? A candy store.
Don't even ask about the soda aisle.
I guess I can't blame them for wanting to drink the sugary substitutes for healthy liquids like water. Bottled water is actually more expensive than gas here, and the desalinated water from the tap is salty and makes your teeth feel metallic. But my HEAVENS what is the excuse for the candy? I can't count the number of times I've asked a student what she's eating for lunch and she holds up a Kit-Kat and a bag of Lays.
I once brought up this issue with some of my students and one of them proudly displayed her diet soda and said, "Look teacher! I'm being healthy!"
I've made it no secret how much I love food, so perhaps some of this bafflement is rooted in my extreme jealousy at this ridiculously unhealthy lifestyle in a place where somehow the women are all able to maintain a Hollywood waistline. To quote the timeless Ron Burgundy: "I'm not even mad, I'm just impressed."
...and maybe a little grossed out.
(meanwhile, Google image search "candy" in Saudi Arabia, and this is one of the first thumbnails you see. Whaat?!)