— A couple of lines from the original Scooby-Doo cartoon theme song
Sometimes, things can get tough. You might be The Load or the Cowardly Lion. Your Five-Man Band really wants you to go into the Abandoned Hospital or to stand up to The Bully for the first time, but you find yourself incapable of going. What you need is the proper motivation. But would it be for cash? For a kiss? No? Then perhaps you would do it for food.
Food can be a very powerful motivator for some people. All you have to do is offer them a burger, or a french fry, and they're like putty in your hands. Sometimes, the food used can be anything, although, typically, it's one treat in particular. And sometimes, depending on the situation, one will not be enough. You'd have to offer them the whole box. For animals, bribing them can be just as easy as offering them the food their species is known for eating. And if you ever come across a cop, you just can't buy your way out of a ticket from, try offering him a donut.
Compare Delicious Distraction, which is when food is used to distract, and Through His Stomach and Tastes Like Friendship, when food is used to cement a relationship. Can be invoked with Trademark Favorite Food. Contrast Denied Food as Punishment. Can possibly be thrown to invoke a Go Fetch situation.
Horo from Spice and Wolf can usually be bought with apples, but will occasionally demand fancier foods (most notably, the honey-pickled peaches that are considered a delicacy in the city they are currently visiting)
Home Alone 3: The brother's parrot only plays along with the scheme if you have TWO crackers.
"Double, or nothing"
In Strange Brew, Bob and Doug McKenzie successfully bribe the secretary at Elsinore Brewery for information by using a donut: "Perhaps one of THESE would refresh your memory?" She gives them a little information, but holds out for another before giving up the full scoop.
Harry Dresden is known to secure the loyalty of the Wildfae with pizza. It started as a simple quid pro quo: Pizza for information. Now they're his own little personal volunteer army.
Not a literal bribe, but dealing with the Eldest Gruff could well be considered this.
In the Discworld novel Night Watch, the narration mentions that Sam Vimes, the main character, does not take bribes at all, except those of donuts and beer.
Well, the Watch has been reformed so that they don't take bribes other than donuts and beer. Vimes doesn't take the beer, as he's a recovering alcoholic.
In Unseen Academicals Glenda Sugarbean gets in to see Vetinari twice by doing this to the palace guards.
Though they had been instructed to take all bribes offered, bring the people in question to a waiting room, and then lock it until Lord Vetinari decides what to do with them. Unfortunately they also dispose of any food bribes afterwards in fear of poison, which in this case even Lord Vetinari considered a crime against good cooking.
Stephanie Plum is often bribed by her mother by food. Seeing as how she is a very good cook and Steph is often broke, it is a very powerful motivator. When regular food just won't do, cake will usually seal the deal.
In one book former hooker Lula has witnessed a murder but is reluctant to go to the police station to make an official statement. Joe finally gets her to go by promising to buy her a bucket of chicken and a Carvel ice cream cake.
In the Tim Dorsey novel Orange Crush, a lobbyist considers the food and drink he provides at campaign functions to be part of the lobbying, with the impact being about ten cents on the dollar (A free meal worth fifty dollars provides as much influence with a politician as a $500 donation to his campaign).
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, at the beginning, Uncle Vernon is trying to seal a business deal by inviting a potential client to dinner.
iCarly: Sam can be bribed with food for a variety of reasons. Once, so that she'd leave resident Butt Monkey Freddie alone for a while, and earlier in her life, so that she'd be someone's boyfriend. Both times, the food in question was bacon.
Kel on Kenan & Kel would do it for a bottle of orange soda.
Power Rangers RPM: In "...And Action", the cast gives the viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the show without actually breaking character. Ziggy has to offer Doctor K sweets to get her involved.
The Amanda Show: Amanda's stalker Penelope Taynt tries to bribe Barney the security guard so she can sneak into Amanda's show. After failing to bribe him with money and jewels, Barney finally gives in when Penelope gives him a Pizza. A very nice slice of Pizza.
In Tsukihime, Shiki regularly uses curry bread to get Ciel to talk to him.
The original The Legend Of Zelda features this in the seventh dungeon, as you have to buy a bait to pass a particularly hungry Moblin enemy.
Dragon Age: Origins: Your companions have different ways of getting past the guard to the Circle Tower. Morrigan or Shale will just scare the living daylights out of him, Leliana will regale him with stories, and Sten...will offer him sweets (that he stole from a fat kid "for his own good"). Truly, Templar discipline is to be feared.
Later on, when choosing a champion to fight for you in a Trial by Combat, you can try to choose your dog. Arl Eamon is quick to point out that the dog's loyalty could be bought with a ham bone.
In Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire, Garrit demonstrates why the testimony of talking animals isn't admissible in court by bribing Spark to change his story about Bumper in one story arc.
Spark: I saw nothing. Bumper sucks. Gimme fish.
In General Protection Fault, Trudy Trueheart obtained a stockpile of advanced alien weapons by bribing an Alien Overlord... with cheese. Apparently, Earth is the only place in the galaxy where cheese is made, and their attempts to synthesize it (see: cattle mutilations) have so far failed.
A few episodes of Clifford The Big Red Dog showed that Mac refused to listen to what Jetta wanted him to do, unless he was offered a Tummy Yummy as motivation.
Used a couple times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Twilight is faced with this several times throughout "Ticket Master" by her friends in attempts to gain an extra ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala, but Twilight manages to turn away the bribes each time despite stating several times how hungry she is. Pinkie Pie also uses this against Spike in "Party of One" as part of her Perp Sweating sequence.
In Recess, the main six try to bribe Brittany A. to give her sister, Ashley A.'s diary back, by using candy. It doesn't work.
In another episode, the Ashleys bribe T.J. with candy to get him to hang out with them after realizing he found a $100 bill.
In Smurfette's origin episode in The Smurfs, Smurfette tempted Greedy with a scrumptious smurfberry cake into opening the village dam gate so she could flood the village back before she was changed into a real Smurf.
Fancy Dinners have long been a way to smooth the waters of diplomacy. In fact in the British Diplomatic service it used to be a requirement to have a high tolerance for liquor . At times expensive food or drink was used as a bribe. A wine bottle might save face for instance when money is insulting. After all the spy you want might be a traitor but he wants to be known as a cultured traitor.
Cory Montieth mentioned that the choreographer for Glee uses candy as a bribe so that they can keep working.
Napoleon supposedly once faced an enemy army that was ill-supplied. He promised them food if they joined his army. It worked!