Created By: Tohwaku on April 8, 2012 Last Edited By: Tohwaku on April 13, 2012

Clockwork Orange Juice

A specific type of Rube Goldberg contraption designed by The Professor to make his breakfast

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Trope
A sequence shot shows an overly intricate contraption clicking and whirring along a long chain reaction using everyday objects, but its purpose only becomes clear at the end of the sequence: making a mundane, plain breakfast with eggs, bacon, toasts, coffee and orange juice. It is a therefore always an occurrence of Auto Kitchen.

Although it is a bit of a Discredited Trope now (mainly because it was somewhat overused in the '80s), the Clockwork Orange Juice was in its heyday a pretty efficient characterization trope, and still is.

Just like the Rube Goldberg Device of which it is a Sub-Trope, it embodies the sheer wackiness of its creator (usually The Professor and more often than not the Gadgeteer Genius) while showing his/her tendancy to devise absurdly complex devices just to perform everyday tasks. This, in turn, usually means that the machine's designer is sufficiently lazy to feel the need to craft a full-fledged chain reaction instead of doing what would otherwise be done simply using their own hands, but at the same time smart and determined enough to precisely do just that. This also implies that the character to be shown may not be able to act or speak in a plain manner, even (especially?) as far simple matters are concerned.

The sequence shot typically shows one of several of the following elements: eggs or bacon stripes frying in a pan, a toaster spitting out burnt toasts, a coffee machine brewing coffee, a tin can opener, you name it. It can also be used for not-too-obvious Product Placement, since it makes sense to see branded food used to make breakfast (incidentally, said brands are unusually visible when in the hands of the machine).

An automatic way to wake up The Professor can be used for added comedic effect, especially if it involves some kind of Slapstick. Bonus Points if the chain reaction also dresses the inventor. The very fact that the machine itself makes breakfast before the character wakes up means that he/she can afford to sleep a few more minutes thanks to his genius.

Not to be confused with A Clockwork Orange.

Please only list examples of Rube Goldberg contraptions used specifically to make breakfast, meals, or at the very least some kind of food.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Hakase (who's name literally means The Professor) of Negima! has one of these in her lab, seen in the background of 1 panel of chapter 75.

Film

Western Animation
  • Wallace & Gromit has one for Wallace to get him up, out of bed, dressed, and seated in front of his table for breakfast.
  • Subverted and parodied in Family Guy. One Cutaway Gag begins with Peter lighting a candle that sets off a Rube Goldberg Device.. which ends with Peter getting shot by a gun with a balloon tied to the trigger. As he lies on the floor in pain, he howls 'All it does is shoot you! It doesn't make breakfast at all!'
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • April 8, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • Back To The Future had one in 1985 to make coffee and breakfast for Doc, and one in the third movie to make ice.
    • Wallace And Gromit has one for Wallace to get him up, out of bed, dressed, and seated in front of his table for breakfast.
  • April 8, 2012
    TrisakAminawn
    I believe there was one in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
    • One of Caractacus' more functional inventions, the breakfast machine did most of the work and sent plates of breakfast rolling right onto the table. Unfortunately he shut it down just in time for Grandpa to get a whole raw egg instead.
  • April 8, 2012
    Tohwaku
    • Pee Wees Big Adventure also had one in 1985, with a full sequence dedicated to show it making a breakfast.
    • In Edward Scissorhands (1990), one of the machines Edward's "father" invented prior to Ed is a cookie-baking machine (shown to be the inspiration for giving Ed a heart, although it is unclear how Edward can remember this flashback because, well, he wasn't quite sentient at the time).
  • April 8, 2012
    Tohwaku
    • Terry Gilliam's Brazil features a breakfast machine.
  • April 8, 2012
    randomsurfer
    This is already part of Auto Kitchen which just got launched. Do we need to split off already?
  • April 8, 2012
    Tohwaku
    Hmmm, I missed the Auto Kitchen trope. However I do feel that Clockwork Breakfast is a little bit different in that it is specifically used to introduce The Professor before he wakes up, and although I'll readily admit that it is veeeery specific, it was used a lot in the '80s to show the wackiness of their designer. Auto Kitchen, on the other hand, appears to be a super trope for food dispensers in Sci-Fi works, with no tight relationship to their inventor's characterization.
  • April 8, 2012
    Astaroth
    Subverted and parodied in Family Guy. One Cutaway Gag begins with Peter lighting a candle that sets off a Rube Goldberg Device.. which ends with Peter getting shot by a gun with a balloon tied to the trigger. As he lies on the floor in pain, he howls 'All it does is shoot you! It doesn't make breakfast at all!'
  • April 8, 2012
    JonnyB
    Yes, I'd say this was a sub-trope of Auto Kitchen.
  • April 8, 2012
    Raso
  • April 9, 2012
    Tohwaku
    • Speaking of Back To The Future (Part I being mentioned in an earlier comment), Part III shows an automated breakfast machine in the Old West, build by Doc, of course.
  • April 9, 2012
    ArcadesSabboth
    I am not familiar with Girl Genius, but one of the tropes already has an image from it of a ridiculously complicated machine that makes coffee. Does that count as this trope?
  • April 9, 2012
    Tohwaku
    Yes, actually, it's Gadgeteer Genius if memory serves right (a Sub Trope or Sister Trope of The Professor / Mad Scientist). The image of Girl Genius does show a Rube Goldberg Device which seems to be used (among other things) to make food. This certainly has a relationship to Clockwork Breakfast, although it is unclear from the image if this is used to make breakfast automatically (yet it would be surprising if it didn't) from the looks).
  • April 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    NOTE: The example in Brazil, while visually this trope, was thematically meant to represent the world of malfunctioning, impersonal machines and uncaring, impersonal bureaucracy which the characters inhabited, not the eccentric genius of its inventor.
  • April 10, 2012
    Tohwaku
    Very true indeed, I'm pulling the example from Brazil.
  • April 10, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    One of the Warner Bros. cartoon shorts with Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog features this. In "A Sheep in the Deep", Ralph has an automatic waking-up machine, which, in addition to sending him directly from bed into a shower, automatically feeds him a slice of toast and some coffee (straight from the pot!)
  • April 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Tohwaku: Might I suggest broadening the trope?
  • April 12, 2012
    Tohwaku
    Sure! Any suggestions? I mean suggestions to broaden it without making it a simple clone of Auto Kitchen or Rube Goldberg Device. I must admit I'm a bit stuck here.
  • April 12, 2012
    zarpaulus
    I think some of those examples haven't been included yet under Auto Kitchen.

    Snap to it.
  • April 12, 2012
    nman
    "A Clockwork Orange Juice" would be such a hilarious name.
  • April 12, 2012
    Tohwaku
    Indeed! Changed the trope's name!
  • April 12, 2012
    Kcspot
    The opening of Honey!We Shrunk Ourselves! Has this I believe...
  • April 12, 2012
    Mauri
    Darkwing Duck does it but more on a training routine for Darkwing himself. He still forgets the fridge slams the ground when it comes to the mlik. First chapter.
  • April 12, 2012
    fulltimeD
    @ Tohwaku: Never mind, I missed Auto Kitchen (the "Brazil" example is this).
  • April 12, 2012
    Generality
    This new title is misleading.
  • April 12, 2012
    JonnyB
    I like it and think it's clever. I'd drop the "A" to make though, to make it clear it's not referring to the book/film. And maybe put a line at the end saying, "Not to be confused with..."
  • April 12, 2012
    Mauri
    Maybe "Clockwork Breakfast Service" could be a bit more fitting.
  • April 12, 2012
    JonnyB
    Yeah but then you miss the joke.
  • April 12, 2012
    nitrokitty
    Clockwork Orange Juice is hilarious. Clockwork Breakfast Service is boring. That's where my vote is!
  • April 12, 2012
    condottiera
    You should definitely keep the title the way it is. It's a terrific pun. Too good to waste!
  • April 13, 2012
    Tohwaku
    Yeah actually I agree that it's slightly misleading because it refers only to orange juice and no longer to a whole breakfast. But who can resist the appeal of such a pun?

    I also agree about dropping the A, it weakens the title, actually.
  • April 13, 2012
    Tohwaku
    Checked the Darkwing Duck example, actually, I don't think it quite fits in here. It's indeed more of a training drill that an automated process to make breakfast.
  • April 13, 2012
    lala
    An episode of Black Books had a contraption that made toast with jam for humourous effect. The title is hilarious, please keep it!
  • April 13, 2012
    Tohwaku
    Great, thanks! Would anyone have a good picture and/or quote to put at the beginning of the article, by any chance?
  • April 13, 2012
    Alvin
    Possible trivia: I think from having the closed-captioning on during the Family Guy example mentioned above or a credit card ad using the same tune, the music playing during that bit is actually titled "Breakfast Machine". I'll try to confirm.
  • April 13, 2012
    Alvin
    Oh yeah, and the title's great.
  • April 13, 2012
    Quatic
    In real life, the Purdue University world-record-setting 300 task Rube Goldberg machine makes orange juice at about 1:10 in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z9z33FKle0 (at other times it makes coffee and peels an apple as well)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=uthkxrudshheijcgk0hcybyl