Similar Item Confusion

A character confuses an item for another, usually due to looking or sounding similar, and uses it to make food, chemical solution, etc. This tends to be an aspect of a Lethal Chef in cooking. Alternatively, this can be intentionally done by another party by switching items for the character to overlook.

Instances include:
  • Salt and sugar
  • Flour and flower

Compare with Mismeasurement and Unit Confusion. Super Trope to Dynamite Candle. If done as a trap, see Poison Mushroom.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Re:Zero: Averted in Episode 3 of the Break Time shorts, where it is mentioned that one of Reinhard's many abilities include not confusing sugar with salt when cooking.

    Films — Animation 
  • Kronk has this problem in Disney's The Emperor's New Groove, in that he mistakes a bottle of llama extract for deadly poison, which results in the intended victim being transformed into a llama as opposed to full-on dead.
    Ymza: This isn't poison. This is extract of... llama.
    Kronk: You know, in my defense, your poisons all look alike. You might think about relabeling some of them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A plot point in the George of the Jungle movie is how Lyle has a cigarette lighter that looks like a pistol. At the end of the movie he asks one of his African guides for it (earlier he asked for it to be cleaned as long as they're working on his camera), and the guy accidentally gives him an identically-looking real gun instead.
  • 9 to 5. When Violet is making coffee for her boss Mr. Hart, she accidentally adds rat poison instead of artificial sweetener. He luckily avoids drinking it and is not poisoned.

    Literature 
  • In a MAD Magazine "Hate Book" feature, one item was "Don't you hate discovering that you've been brushing your teeth with shaving cream?" This dates back to when shaving cream often came in squeeze tubes, similar to that of toothpaste, so such an error was actually possible.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 opened with Crow having melted himself into a puddle after mistaking a Thawmaster for a Thighmaster. Then Tom Servo does just the opposite, failing to thaw out a roast beef in time for dinner after mistaking a Thighmaster for a Thawmaster.
  • Square One TV: One brief sketch showed two men who were working at a restaurant discussing income and profit. One of the bills they were discussing involved window repair due to a customer's demonstration of how hard the Swedish Meatballs were, to which the cook replied "How was I supposed to know that flour and plaster weren't the same thing? I mean they're both all powdery and white...!"
  • One episode of Mission: Impossible has the team infiltrate a chemical plant where The Villain's henchmen are mixing deadly nerve gas. The plant's store room contains two key ingredients in similar containers, differentiated only by their labels. Invoked when the IMF use peel-and-stick labels to confuse the two chemicals. This causes the mixing process to be done in the wrong order, resulting in the anarchists getting Hoist by His Own Petard.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky introduces "lookalike items", meant to trick the player into using them.
    • Is that a healing Oran berry, or a poisonous Oren berry?
    • Will the Sleep Seed help knock out your foe, or is it a Slip Seed that will make them able to walk on water?
    • Will this Reviver Seed keep you going through this tough fight? or is it the devious Reviser Seed that still revives you, only for you to immediately laugh yourself unconscious?
  • A backstory snippet in Undertale mentions how King Asgore got an accidental food poisoning when his children confused "cups of butter" in a pie recipe for him with "buttercups" (a mildly poisonous flower).

    Web Comics 
  • Merlitz from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures tries to convince his teammates that he has seen an actual human, but none believe him. Worse, they presume Merlitz has lost his mind, and oust him from the group. The team leader asks The Ditz for a pink slip to formalize the outplacement, whereupon she undresses, and offers her pink slip as it's the only one she has.
  • Strip #130 of Phillip M Jackson's Sequential Art has Kat ask Pip to retrieve shears, so as to cut away bubblegum from Scarlet's fur. Pip brings large hedge clippers, at which Kat scolds, "Barber not gardening, you little cretin." Poor Scarlet nearly panics.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes: In Speedy Gonzales' debut episode, Bennie gets a drum of petrol, thinking the word is just a funny spelling of "water", to use to douse George after being blown up.
  • In the Arthur episode, "What's Cooking?", Arthur enters a cooking competition at school, hosted by famous chef, Ming Tsai, with plans to make a chocolate cake. His dad insists on wanting to help, even thought it's a Kids-only competition. Arthur makes a mistake by adding baking soda instead of baking powder, resulting in a batch of brownies instead of a chocolate cake. He wants to throw them out at first, but then his brownies become a huge hit with the class, and he learns that many great foods were created by accident from Ming Tsai.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Applebuck Season", Applejack keeps confusing ingredients like potato chips instead of chocolate chips for the cupcakes due to sleep deprivation. What resulted is a town-wide food poisoning by "baked bads".
  • In The Simpsons, Season 10 "Viva Ned Flanders", when Mr. Burns' Casino is about to get demolished using bombs, one of the demolition worker overhears Bart say, "All right! Here comes the implosion" and responds to the other with "Implosion? I thought you said—" and is interrupted when the plunger goes down. This confusion results in the casino being blasted into a huge dust cloud covering part of the town.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SimilarItemConfusion