"Is that... food? Everyone smuggled food down here!? Unbelievable! You guys put our lives in danger because you couldn't go without a snack for a day!? You are all... awful! [stomach growls] So hungry... is that... egg custard in that tart?"
Hunger is a very powerful force. A starving person may degrade themselves for a scrap of food; a hedonist will do so for a teaspoon of cous cous. Mmm... deliciouscous cous. Even a person with a full stomach may have a hard time resisting a marvelously mouthwatering meal or morsel.
Much like characters with Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!, these characters are distracted by something delicious, like a freshly baked, moist, sweet delectable apple pie cooling on a window sill...* drools* * cough*
Yeah. Like that.
This can be used as a "soft" Achilles Heel against gluttonous characters (or anyone, provided the bait dessert is good enough) that can do anything from distract, bribe, or completely sidetrack a given character for up to an hour (or more, if the tempter is a cook with a fully stocked kitchen). In cartoons, this may be enough to stop a predator/enemy in their tracks, in other media, the sleeping dust/amnesia powder sprinkled over the glazing does the trick.
May happen just by looking at it, smelling it, and in powerful instances from mere memory or having it be described... like that time I had this delicious just-baked and still warm pineapple empanada, with a gold crust that was still crisp yet unburnt,and the filling with small chunks of pineapple still discernible when you chewed,* drool*
Intimately related to Food Porn, which is about distracting the audience with the yummy. Also closely related to Meat O Vision, Obsessed With Food and Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere, diet edition. See Delicious Fruit Pies for a comic book ad variation.
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All-State's "Mayhem" has one commercial where Mayhem plays a dog guarding a house being robbed. They've placated him with a bone, demonstrating how an Angry Guard Dog could be easily avoided.
Anime and Manga
In Dragon Ball Z, Goku and Vegeta are fighting evil clones of Piccolo, Gohan, and Gotenks. Majin Buu, however, comes across a store full of cakes at that exact moment... turning the clone fighters inside Buu into cake, letting Goku and Vegeta pass.
This was found to be a subversion in the next episode, since the snacks Karasawa threw to the girls were all expired. Bullying continues.
In Axis Powers Hetalia Canada at one point attaches a note that reads "There is food inside" to a package in an effort to trick America into opening it. The last panel of the comic shows America desperately trying to restrain himself.
There's also a comic where Rome is shown daydreaming about food and women while bored during a meeting.
In the original novel, they didn't have an excess special effects budget to be showing off, so they just set them on the banisters by the stairs, to exactly the same effect. At least that's only mildly stupid.
In The Rock, Sean Connery's character has the hotel room service deliver a full spread of snacks to distract the FBI agents that are supposed to be keeping an eye on him while he enacts his scheme to escape and meet up with his daughter.
The easiest way to get B.A to calm down and stay out of your hair is to give him a plate of Murdock's coconut curry tapenade. Just don't forget the toasties.
During the extended version opening of Fellowship of the Ring (well, second opening; during the Concerning Hobbits scene), a hobbit-maid is about to kiss her hobbit-lover, who is distracted by a basket of muffins going around and eats it instead. At the exact same moment, Bilbo narrates that "a Hobbit's only true love is for food."
In Beverly Hills Cop, Axel Foley successfully distracts a pair of cops on a long stakeout by sending over a lavish dinner, and uses the opportunity to sabotage their car so they can't follow him later. He does it again against the two protagonist cops, but this time only uses the distraction to introduce himself.
Live Action TV
Pushing Daisies has this happen to the aunts, when their niece custom bakes them a cheese coated pie. And of course, it had mood elevating drugs baked in.
Jimmy from Reefer Madness: The MovieMusical starts ranting at his drug dealer about how he's done smoking pot, and nothing can change his mind, but gets sidetracked shortly after the dealer offers him a brownie. Admittedly, it was a pot brownie, but Jimmy didn't know that before he dropped his argument to eat it.
Appears on Top Gear's Polar Special (the three presenters' attempt to reach the magnetic north pole). After a particularly stressful day, James May distracts Jeremy Clarkson with various gourmet foods and (awesomely) a bottle of Chablis, all of which he has somehow brought along without his friend noticing.
Occurs in Psych when Gus keeps distracting Shawn with Snickers bars in "Ferry Tale".
On those occasions on Hogan's Heroes when Schultz does not know nothing, he can be bribed with food to know nothing.
Tested and confirmed on Mythbusters, in regards to distracting an Angry Guard Dog with meat. However, it was noted that it is possible (though not easy) to train a guard dog to ignore such distractions.
In Friends when Joey's sister Dina told him she was pregnant, she (at Rachael's suggestion) got him a meatball sub to distract him in case he got angry.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the episode "Earshot", while searching for a student that they suspect is about to enact a school shooting at Sunnydale High, Xander is distracted by some Jello while passing through the cafeteria. Which leads him to the person who's really planning to murder a bunch of students: the lunch lady, whom he catches dumping rat poison into the mulligan stew.
Ron, from Season 18 of The Amazing Race. Several times he lost his concentration, even mid-task, and tried to get his daughter to stop to get food.
In the Lucky Starr series, David tries to distract some sentient alien form of life by throwing them something they consider a delicacy. The degree of success is one of the hints that they might not be that sentient after all...
Redwall characters will reminisce rhapsodically about food whenever they aren't actually sitting down to a sumptuous feast, but the robin from Mossflower has to take the cake for this trope because he operated solely on food-based bribery.
In Thief of Time, chocolate proves itself to be a Deadly Delicious Distraction, for Auditors that are new to having human bodies or taste buds. At one point, the mere scent of a single piece of high-end chocolate candy sets a mob of them to fighting one another, and the sole survivor's body disintegrates from sheer bliss upon eating it.
In Unseen Academicals, Glenda uses scrumptious pies to bribe her way past Lord Vetinari's security guards. Subverted in that Vetinari'd ordered the guards to accept any bribes regardless of their value or quality; played with in that he scolds his aide for having the pies disposed of, uneaten: he knew Glenda's grandmother from her time as a cook at the Assassin's Guild, and neither she nor her granddaughter would dream of fouling a recipe with poison.
Every Andalite who adopts a human morph. By the end of the series, Andalite tour groups visit Earth just to sample human cuisine.
At one point in Take A Thief, Skif bypasses some guard dogs with a cross between this trope and Slipping a Mickey. He mixes chopped meat with bread crumbs soaked in poppy juice, stuffs the concoction into sausage casings, and tosses them over the wall.
Galaxy Of Fear: Eaten Alive: The better to tempt visitors to relax and stay, the Enzeen have a habit of providing all visitors with free food, lots of it, all very good. Most visitors immediately trust them, but this is subverted with Tash, whose latent Force-Sensitivity gives her a bad feeling about the whole thing. The food is actually just fine, simply used to help visitors feel at ease so they can be eaten themselves later with less fuss.
There is a spell in Dungeons & Dragons called "Illusory Feast" that creates a feast that seems to have their favourite foods and is real as far as natural senses can tell. Causes foes that aren't actively involved in fighting to drop what they're doing and indulge. Foes that are fighting are slightly dazed.
Chrononauts, the card game of time travel, includes an artifact from the 1939' Berlin World's Fair: a delicious slice of German Cake. You can use it during another player's turn to distract them and cancel whatever it is they were about to do.
In the Not Safe for Work web series-thingy(?) Felarya has many of the giants get distracted by prey, usually done for comedic affect, oddly enough.
A couple of guys trying to distract the watchout in Doomsday Arcade successfully distracted him by using a 'Free Sandwiches' sign.
World of Warcraft-based comedy series Illegal Danish involves the characters Rasi and Basutei traveling to Ashenvale for apparently nothing but a vending machine. Rasi is annoyed, but Basutei is overjoyed, and launches into his own little commercial when he sees the machine is stocked with "Goblin Cakes." He then breaks open the machine and starts stuffing his face until Rasi throws the machine off the tower.
In Team Fortress 2, Heavy Weapons Guy's Sandvich proves to be one in-game. Loudly chomping down OM NOM NOM, he cannot react if someone attacks him while eating his Sandvich. Woe betide Heavy if there is an enemy Spy around or a Sniper gets a fix on him.
In Dragon Age: Origins, the templar charged with making sure no one visits the Abomination infested Circle Tower can be bribed with cookies provided by Sten. Cookies that Sten stole from a fat slovenly child — for his own good, of course.
When fighting The Fear in Metal Gear Solid 3, his stealth camo will drain his stamina extremely fast. When it gets low, he'll shoot down some convenient fruit, gobble it down, and continue the fight. He is very vulnerable during this time, but can't actually be stopped from eating the fruit (he'll keep moving no matter what you shoot him with). However, you can throw your own food, some of which may be poisoned, and he'll go for that instead, as it is more convenient.
In Amnesia The Dark Descent, you can buy time from the invisible monster in the water by tossing body parts for it to devour instead. Preferably as far away from where you need to be as possible.
Subverted when Homer tries to distract an Angry Guard Dog chasing Bart with a steak. The dog eats the steak in one bite and doesn't slow down at all.
Homer: Faster, son! He's got a taste for meat now!
Subverted in a Treehouse of Horror episode, when Homer is being chased by Ned Flanders' guard dogs. (It Makes Sense in Context) He pulls out a large string of sausages:
Homer: I know! [Pulls out string of sausages] These wieners will give me the quick energy I need to escape! [Homer eats them and suddenly speeds up, leaving the dogs in the dust]
Played straight and parodied during The Cat's burglary spree. Santa's Little Helper growls at the intruder, who quiets him with a string of sausages. In comes a sleepwaling Homer, who also growls at The Cat... who also quiets him with another string of sausages.
Similarly in Futurama when Bender comes across an angry guard dog he pulls out a huge steak... he then proceeds to knock the dog unconscious with it and eats the steak himself.
Scooby-Doo and Scooby Snacks. Though Shaggy and Scooby are afraid of their own shadow, all it takes is a little bribery with the snacks to get them to agree to do something scary Once per Episode.
Freakazoid! defeated Candle Jack by distracting him with pie.
It took a ton of Reese's Pieces to booby trap James Woods in Family Guy.
"Eternal chaos comes with chocolate rain, you guys! Chocolate. Rain!"
Truth in Television, in relation to predators. Since they're usually motivated by hunger, leaving an easier meal close by can distract them long enough to allow you to escape. Even a vicious guard dog can be tempted from duty by a nice steak (better hope you can run faster than it can eat, though). Of course a guard dog can be trained not to be distracted this way....
So goes the old campfire warning - I don't need to outrun the bear; I just need to outrun you.
The FBI pulled a variation of this on a notorious Mafioso. He conducted all his business in a junkyard, which the FBI could never approach to bug because of the vicious guard dogs. Agents came by every night for weeks and fed the dogs over the fence with steaks. Finally, the dogs grew to like the Agents and allowed them onto the property, where the Agents were able to plant a microphone and get the evidence they needed. To make the story truly hilarious, the agents returned to confront the Mobster and get him to turn State's Evidence but he laughed them off, claiming there was no way they could have bugged his office. Until the dogs came over and licked the Agent's hand. He flipped immediately.