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Fire-Breathing Diner

Its like a hell in my mouth and everyone's been damned!
Minmax, Goblins

Excessively spicy food invariably results in a (usually metaphorical) blast of flame from the mouth of the diner, often after he or she has quickly turned red from feet to top of head (in the manner of a rising thermometer, sometimes with a distinctive rising "boooOOOP!" or whistling kettle sound effect).

A common subversion is if one character in a cartoon tries to pull this off on another as a joke or part of an Escalating War. The intended victim will always have an insanely high resistance, while the perpetrator, trying it himself in disbelief, will feel the full force of the trope from the tiniest bite.

Can also be the result of consuming a Gargle Blaster or Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce (or anything cooked by a Lethal Chef). See also Oven Logic and I Ate What?.

In Real Life, capsaicin (the chemical found in 'hot' foods) works by directly stimulating the nerves responsible for detecting heat. This fools the brain into thinking the affected area is being burned and causes heat-related effects such as a flushed face and sweating. However, no spice can actually produce real heat, let alone fire - although there are certainly some foods that can make you feel like your mouth is on fire.

The third hottest pepper in the world is the Naga Viper pepper, coming in at a mouth-scorching, sweat-inducing 1,382,118 Scoville Heat Units (for comparison, the Jalapeño ranks 2,500-8,000). It has been trounced in March 2011 by the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chili, which clocks in at 1,463,700 SHU; and in February 2012 by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, which measures 2,009,231 SHU. Hot sauces made from any three of the peppers (or even all of them) have to be stored in glass, because they all corrode plastic like (*click!*) that.

Not to be confused with the Unsatisfiable Customer, for whom the fire breathing is verbal, rather than metaphorical or literal.

Example subpages


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  • Tortillas for the Daltons sees Lucky Luke as the victim of this trope. The Mexican who talked him into drinking tequila just says: "Refreshing, isn't it?"
  • This is one of the effects of the Hideous Hangover Cure that Astérix accidentally invents in Asterix and the Laurel Wreath.

    Literature 
  • In the Discworld book Hogfather, the wizards are somewhat disappointed that Bilious, the Oh God of Hangovers, doesn't display this as part of the "humorous side effects" of the Hideous Hangover Cure they'd just made for him.
    • There is also Mustrum Ridicully's Wow Wow sauce which is so potent that, in Reaper Man, he uses a bottle of it to cause a magic-resistant slime to explode, taking this trope to its logical conclusion.
  • The SF short story Buck and the Gents from Space features a young boy from the Southwest US serving a group of aliens a meal made primarily of chili peppers. Their reaction is described as being "sort of like the Apache snake dance, except they didn't have no snakes in their mouths. Maybe they would've preferred a snake, at that." He then offers them some of the hired hand's rotgut tequila to wash it down with, prompting much the same reaction.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Peter Fox from Foxtrot spent an entire week having to live down his girlfriend Denise's April Fool's joke- a chocolate rabbit filled with hot sauce, which he of course ate in about two bites before his mouth was set aflame.
  • A Garfield strip featured Garfield and Jon having a contest to see who can eat the hottest pepper without invoking this trope. Garfield loses after eating a Peruvian Death Pepper.
    • In one Garfield Sunday strip Jon accidentally eats some dog food, and when he asks Garfield to brings him something to drink, Garfield obliges by bringing him a bottle of hot sauce. Jon chugs the bottle without looking at it; the next panel shows him clutching his throat, breathing fire, with his eyes wild and hair standing on end.
    • Also happened to Garfield on his fourth birthday, because he swallowed his cake before blowing the candles out!

    Tabletop Games 
  • A magic item available in Forged By Dragon's Fire, an Old World of Darkness supplement, is the "ginger dragon", a small candy most often produced in rural China. They produce real fire.

    Webcomics 

    Real Life 
  • Spicy foods really do make you feel hot due to a substance called capsaicin. One of the reasons hot peppers are so popular in hot countries is that they make the consumer break out in a sweat.
  • The method of food preparation known as flambé, in which the meal is doused with alcohol and set alight. Although the flames are usually extinguished fairly quickly, some dishes, such as Bombe Alaska, can remain ablaze for several minutes.
  • Drinking 151, an over-proof rum with 75.5% of alcohol made by Bacardi, results in the feeling that one's mouth is burning.

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