Pictured above: Mikoto from Mai Hi ME gets all starry-eyed the first time she tastes a bowl of Mai's ramen. The two become good friends afterwards, and it helps that Mai is very good at it, having learned how to cook at a young age.
Shiho tries to win points with Yuuichi this way in the Cooking Duel after seeing that he's one of the judges. Unfortunately for her, she trips and plants her face into the completed cake.
A hilarious version in The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer: Sami makes a meal, that turns somewhat lethal. She doesn't finish eating it, and tells Yuuhi that he doesn't have to either, but the man gobbles it up like nectar from the gods (and pays for it later).
During the finale, it's found that Yayoi cooks (large) lunches for her husband, even hand delivering them.
Rei from Urusei Yatsura is the king of this trope. A Chick Magnet so potent that even the fangirls of teen trillionaire Handsome Lech Mendou switch to squeeing over him the moment he shows up, he reveres anyone who brings him food... or whatever can even be considered food.
In Fruits Basket, when Tohru is sick, Kyo cooks her something to eat. Despite Momiji's teasing. And despite that he's making her leek soup... and Kyo hates leeks.
A common plot in Ranma ½. Ranma really does think with his stomach a lot, and Akane is very determined to cook for him (as a Lethal Chef, Hilarity Ensues). Her rivals, Ukyo (an expert Chef) and Shampoo (works in a Ramen cafe) often use food as a way to gain an advantage over Akane in their pursuit of Ranma. In particular, the anime Christmas episode has Akane wondering why Ranma is late - and then she imagines Shampoo tempting him with a turkey, and Ranma responding "I always wanted to eat a whole turkey". It was rather amusing Character Development, because it showed that Akane now realized that Ranma would not be tempted by Shampoo's body but rather by the food.
Speaking of Rumiko Takahashi, Maison Ikkoku. Kyoko is thoughtfully providing lunches for Godai as he job-hunts. At least, she thinks he's job-hunting. He's really being forced to Work Off the Debt at a nightclub. They're very nice lunches and she's clearly putting a lot of effort into them. Godai feels like dirt for his subterfuge, and his boss keeps telling Godai not to let this one get away.
In Shakugan no Shana, Shana and Kazumi begin competing over Yuji by each bringing him lunch. Kazumi of course can cook, while Shana... let's just say Yuji's mother was rather overwhelmed trying to teach her. So Shana just gives Yuji a box of Melon Bread in a curious inversion of Your Favorite.
Inspired by the cooking war going on over Yuji, Whilhelmina tries to do this for Shana. It doesn't turn out very well- apparently Ninja Maid can't cook. So much for "Specialist of Everything".
In a non-romantic version, Aoba in Cross Game fails, while Ko succeeds.
In Vandread, several girls including Dita compete for Hibiki's affection by cooking meals for him. This works exceptionally well, since Hibiki comes from a dystopian planet where all food are tasteless nutrients that look like hamster pellets.
In Mahou Sensei Negima!, several girls attempt to get points with Negi by making him tea. In addition, Negi's first (and so far only) significant meeting with Satsuki Yotsuba was prefaced by a meal at her meat bun stand.
In an episode of School Rumble Hanai challenges Harima to a cooking duel during a nature outing to impress a Tsukamoto girl. What Hanai is unaware of is that both he and Harima are each focused on a different sister: Harima wants to impress older sister Tenma, Hanai wants to impress younger sister Yakumo. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues.
One episode of the Ryuusei no Rockman anime featured Luna trying to learn to cook for Rockman in order to win his heart. Unfortunately for her, in addition to being a Lethal Chef, she happened to pick Subaru to taste her failed attempts, without having any idea that Subaru actuallyisRockman.
Taiga from Toradora! is at her most content when she eats good food. Her classmate and neighbor Ryuuji is an excellent cook. Do the math.
This example reverses the gender roles in the trope, because the male (Ryuuji) is good at cooking and housekeeping, while the female (Taiga) is hopeless at both. Though Character Development has her improve somewhat by the end, moving her from "utterly hopeless" to "moderately good" at caring for herself.
Nodame's crush on Chiaki in Nodame Cantabile could perhaps be largely attributed to Chiaki's outstanding cooking skills, which save her from eating instant ramen for dinner every day.
Parodied in Fushigi Yuugi. Tamahome is forced by circumstances to break up with Miaka. She, of course, is hurt and confused, and when it's time to prepare lunch, Miaka volunteers to help out. She ends up cooking with Xi Fang, the foster daughter of the Byakko Warriors Tokaki and Subaru, whom circumstances lead Miaka to be jealous of. Miaka gets distracted and burns all that she cooks, while Xi Fang's cooking is perfect, and Hilarity Ensues when everyone takes the first bite and is instantly put off. Bonus points when Tamahome makes a spiteful comment about her cooking, and EXTRA bonus points when, after Miaka leaves upset, he eats everything she cooked at the cost of getting a nasty stomachache.
Hayate also manages to recruit people for Nagi's apartment complex and pick up Unwanted Haremettes through his cooking skills.
Done in One Piece at the end of the Alabasta saga. So what does a now world famous pirate want for saving an entire country and defeating one of the most dangerous people in world? Luffy only wants to be fed until he explodes. Vivi and Terracota manage to succeed which is a miracle in itself.
In a gender inversion, amorous chef Sanji prepares special food and beverages for whatever beautiful women he can find, shrugging off even his captain until the needs of the women are met. He clearly implies that he does this to win their affections.
In Battle Royale, Noriko bakes cookies to give to Shuya, whom she has a huge crush on. Unfortunately for her, it didn't have the effect she really wanted, since Yoshi (who had a huge crush on Noriko) ended up taking the cookies and eating them.
And apparently Watanuki cooking is A Very Big Deal because he is unable to taste his own food. (Not because Watanuki is a bad cook, but in The Verse of Xxx HO Li C food is a window to the soul and Watanuki has self-identity issues.)
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Shion who is actually Mion in disguise inadvertently does this with Keiichi since he hadn't eaten lunch that day. While he wouldn't show much interest in her, it started a friendship.
In D Grayman, apparently this is the way to Allen's heart. It's entirely possible to bribe him into having positive, happy feelings towards the person. In one instance, Miranda, unable to think of any way to cheer him up, gives him her candy, which makes him ridiculously happy. In another instance, Rohfa apparently caught on to the idea, and is implied to be trying to court him by bribing him with huge boxes of Mitarashi Dango (his favorite). Granted, he only seemed to happily notice the food, without the romantic implications... but, well, it's a start, right?
In Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, three of the girls compete this way. Each of the girls has a different cooking ethnicity, and Kazuki ends up having to eat every morsel on every plate just to maintain the peace. A fourth girl, D, doesn't know how to cook, so she just adds instant curry sauce to all 3 meals in an attempt to compete. The irony is that Kazuki prefers bachelor food, like instant ramen.
Fiore in Chrono Crusade is the cook of the Sinners, so she has a tendency to do this to show familial affection. She's always cooking for Joshua (to the point where he raves over her pudding), and she also scolds Shader for eating canned food and gives her a home-cooked meal as soon as she sees her again. The most obvious use of this trope is when she cooks for Azmaria, and is very thrilled when she seems to like it, telling her "This was my sister's favorite. You remind me of her."
Also, when Rosette first met Chrono, he was very weak—so she offered him some cookies and candies she had in her pocket. Chrono was deeply touched by her kindness and instantly took a liking to her after that—and, when she grows older, they become the series' Official Couple. (However, Rosette tries to actually cook for Chrono later in the series, and the result is less successful.)
Taken to a hilarious extreme in CLANNAD where almost the entirety of Tomoya's Unwanted Harem makes him food, forcing him to force down five bentos in the same sitting. And massively subverted: he got together with the only girl who did not bring him a bento.
Nicely done in Saiunkoku Monogatari, in which Shuurei's cooking wins Ryuuki's heart twice over. In the backstory of the series, Shouka shared the food Shuurei cooked for him with Ryuuki whenever Ryuuki visited the Archives, effectively becoming Ryuuki's Parental Substitute since he was neglected and abused by the rest of his family. Later, when Ryuuki and Shuurei first meet in person, she shares her tea and sweet bean buns with him; he recognizes her cooking, and falls in love with her in very short order.
In Maburaho Yuna constantly cooks for Kazuki and brings him obento, because "that's whata wife is supposed to do". This is also played with in two episodes, one being where Rin wants to try to cook an obento for a teacher she had a crush on, however as she isn't as feminine as the rest of the female cast, her cooking tastes horrible. In the end, she doesn't give the obento to the teacher, but instead gives it to Kazuki who eats it all, despite its horrible taste. In another episode, when Kazuki's parents are supposed to come over to visit, upon learning eel is their favourite meal, all three girls attempt to prepare eel to impress his parents.
This is how Makoto tries to impress Motoki. Unfortunately, her meal preparations are interrupted when Zoisite attacks his fiancée, Reika.
In the R season she also attempts it with Seijuuro/Ail, who is actually an alien in disguise and feeds off Life Energy instead. Not only he's pretty confused by her gesture, but his sister/girlfriend Natsumi/Ann shows up and gets VERY jealous.
Early in the manga Tasogare Otome X Amnesia , Yuuko is shown feeding Teiichi from a bento. On the next page, she pulls him down onto her Lap Pillow. He's a bit weirded out by this, because Yuuko, although very good-looking and built, has been dead for something like fifty years. (She doesn't quite fit the Cute Ghost Girl terms, though, as everyone else in the school either can't see her at all or sees her as a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl.)
Hikari offers to make Touji a bento in Neon Genesis Evangelion. She says it's because she "makes food for her sisters so she always has leftovers" but it guaranteed that the fandom thought them an item from that point on.
Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 has a surprisingly detailed and extended focus on cooking. Shinji is a good cook, and proves it during a field trip. Rei, hoping to reunite Shinji and Gendo, invites both of them to a dinner party where she will cook. Seeing Rei practice cooking makes Asuka jealous, and she, too, takes up the ladle and attempts to learn (though she is incredibly embarrassed when this is found out). A later scene proves that Rei is a far more dedicated learner than Asuka, as proven by the bandage count on their fingers.
Goku in general takes an instant liking to people who give him food, and for that matter, an instant dislike to those who take food away.
Hakkai is the team cook, being the only one who can actually make anything edible this might be more a common sense arrangement. There's a flashback episode revolving around snow and the four of them eating sukiyaki together
There's a filler episode in reload about a Lethal Chef (literally) trying to cook for her fiance.
Collin from Thundersub desperately tries to convince the crew to keep Anna on the ship by insisting, "She's a good cook! She's willing to cook!" They finally give in.
A joint example happens in Seitokai Yakuindomo. When Tsuda compliments the miso soup dinner the three student council girls make for him and his sister, they stare at him expectantly after mentioning which part of the soup they prepared individually.
In Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, Ryoko attempts to do this to win over Tenchi in episode 7. However, as she has no tastebuds to taste her meal and she's not willing to get Sasami, their resident cook, into the mix,note and doesn't trust her mother Washu enough to ask her to restore her sense of taste the results are disastrous. She ends up giving up, though.
Wendy Garret tries this in GUN×SWORD, but the plan fails because Van never gets to eat the meal she prepared, at least the first time.
In The Secret Agreement, the first time Iori meets Yuuichi he is eating mitarashi dango, and Iori asks to try. He nearly eats the entire thing, over which Yuuichi feels resentful at the time. Later in life he views it more optimistically as "it only took three-quarters of a mitarashi dango to make you mine."
Double Subverted in Rurouni Kenshin, Kaoru can't cook to save her life, but Kenshin likes her cooking because she keeps getting better and better at it. Awww.
In Happy Yarou Wedding, Akira steals Yuuhi's bento and then is convinced he must have him as his housekeeper. Eventually they get together.
Near the end of Tiger & Bunny, Barnaby admits that he's been learning to make fried rice for Kotetsu "...so you have to try it some day!".
Attempted by Ringo Oginome in episode 3 of Mawaru-Penguindrum. She reads in a magazine that a curry plate made in specific circumstances will help her gain her crush Tabuki's attention, and thus she tries making curry for him. Too bad that Tabuki's actual girlfriend, Yuri, beat her to the punch.
In episode 11, Shouma Takakura is seen cooking stuffed cabbage and his sister Himari notices it's a dish he only cooks when he intends to ask someone for forgiveness. She then speculates that he's had a fight with Ringo and says "I hope Ringo-chan likes cabbage!". In a subversion, Ringo don't get to taste it;she knocks the dish down because, when Shouma and Himari found her, the kid was in the middle of a hugeHeroic BSOD.
Invoked again in episode 17, since Shouma and Kanba's takoyaki is so good that not even the Princess of the Crystal can resist their taste.
In one chapter of the harem comedy Ai Kora, Maeda tries to get home to enjoy a chocolate sculpture of a girl with all his "ideal parts" that he had commissioned. Unfortunately, it's Valentine's Day, and he keeps getting sidetracked by all the girls in his harem plying him with chocolate (lots of chocolate, in the case of Ayame and Kirino).
In Oniisama e..., when Nanako visits Rei in her apartment, she learns that Rei barely has anything in her fridge. She then decides to cook healthy meals specially for her, and leaves at least one basket full of handmade food in her doorstep.
Subverted in Kurosagi because although Kurosaki takes the food that Tsurara gives him, he immediately dumps it into the trash without tasting it.
Futakoi had Ojou twins infatuated with Nozomu, who tried this. They had to improve their cooking skills all the way from Lethal Chef level first.
In Sangatsu no Lion, Hina's attempts to get closer to Takahashi involve winning him over with meals that she cooked. Her first attempt ends in failure due to her shyness hindering her ability to give it after his game...which is probably for the best. The second attempt, with the advice from Akari, is a curry rice meal topped with kaarage and onsen egg. She fares much better.
In Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, Misaki makes a lunch for Jin in episode 13, although writing "I love you" in it turns him off. This gives Mashiro the idea to learn cooking from Sorata.
In the last volume of the The Kingof Fighters: KYO manga, Athena wants Kyo, Yuki and Kensou to join her in her School Festival performance. She invokes the trope via making a good Chinese mushroom recipe and inviting them over for dinner, then telling them her plans when they're at the table — and it works. Too bad the Festival is crashed by Goenitz.
Keroro Gunsou When Giroro meets Natsumi for the second time, he gives her a baked sweet potato he just cooked up. It's apparently so delicious Natsumi decides not to kick him out of the Hinata's Back yard.
Parodied in the Captain Tsubasa original anime. Sanae is trying to gather her courage to ask Tsubasa out and decides to bring him sandwiches... but while he does like her food, he totally misses her advances. Being a tsundere, she finally gets fed up and goes away, with Tsubasa being all "... WTF?!"
Played a bit straighter in the re-introduction of the Furano team. The two managers, Yoshiko and Machiko, bring home-made drinks for the guys; Machiko immediately tells Yoshiko to go to the team captain, Matsuyama, and give him his drink first while she handles the rest, clearly thinking of the present trope since Yoshiko and Matsuyama are Twice Shy.
Big Ethel tries this all the time on Jughead. He's certainly willing to tolerate her presence when food is forthcoming, but it never gets her any closer to a date (unless you count the time it takes him to eat, and considering it's Jughead that can't be very long).
Similarly, it's not uncommon to portray Equestria as having great food, seen in Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate wherein Pinkie gains Dominic's friendship after cooking him food.
In the wrestling story Baking For Dummies, Michelle Mc Cool tries to bake a cake for Layla's birthday. As the title implies, Michelle is inept in the kitchen and winds up making several trips to the store each time she has to start over again.
A clever variation shows up in the Persona 4 fanfic Simulacrum. In the game itself, the girls are notorious for being Lethal Chefs, so in this fic, one of them gets wise and instead has the main character teach her how to cook. This gets a "I wish I had thought of that!" from another heroine later on.
In If Thems The Rules, Harry employs this technique to slowly win Tom over, to the point that he prefers Harry's cooking to the Hogwarts feast.
Greenfire (Alternate Universe!Spike) initially shows nothing but apprehension when Rarity insists on visiting his cave to have a tea party with him regularly, but eventually warms up to the idea. Although he enjoys the tea and cupcakes Rarity brings, Rarity wins Greenfire over more for providing an excellent conversation partner and help alleviating his solitude.
Film — Animated
In Kung Fu Panda, Po had already earned some respect from the Furious Five for being an indefatigable Determinator, but it was the great meal he whipped up for them that night that really broke the ice. Interestingly enough, Tigress, who has the most Ship Tease with Po, refused to eat his food and instead stoically eat her tofu. She didn't warm up to him until the end of the first movie.
The song A Girl Worth Fighting For from Mulan references this. One soldier's ideal girl has pale skin and bright, shining eyes; the second's will be wooed by his great strength; the third only cares if she's a good cook.
James explicitly talks about the good feelings that good cooking brings.
Tiana reminds Charlotte of this, and Charlotte commissions food from her for the purpose.
Later on, when Naveen wants to propose to Tiana, he prepares her some minced vegetables. Nothing but big piles of minced vegetables. In this case it's really a symbolic gesture, as he worked hard for a change (and mincing is the only culinary skill Tiana had taught him).
In Colorful, Makoto's mother spends most of the film making homemade meals, much of which the main character refuses to eat because of his resentment towards her. Mitsuru yells at him about this toward the end of the film, as before Makoto had tried to commit suicide, she always bought prepackaged meals, and is now putting in far more effort that he is cruelly refusing.
Film — Live-Action
Bill Engvall references this in Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again during the "I Believe..." closing act. He says, "The way to a man's heart is not through his stomach... it's a little further south."
Played with in Miami Blues when a woman intentionally cooks a terrible pie to test her hoodlum boyfriend. He pretends to like it and she takes this as a sign that their relationship is a sham.
A villainous version in Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, Stone The Antichrist assumes power by feeding the world population, which he uses to create his one world order. He even states, "The quickest way to a mans heart is through his stomach."
In the Kate Daniels novels, shapechangers ascribe ritual significance to food. Buying someone dinner at a restaurant is a symbol of affection; actually placing food into another's hands is an incredibly intimate gesture. Becomes a plot point when Kate unknowingly accepts food from a shapechanger's hands; she's accepting a sexual proposition and acknowledging his dominion over her.
Comes up in the young adult novel The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong. When Derek first sees Chloe again, he offers her food and asks about her injury. His romantic rival for Chloe's affections even comments that Derek is "showing him up". Later, Derek acts a bit of a mother hen over Chloe, making her a bed of tarps, offering her his sweatshirt, and giving her his last granola bar. So it came as no surprise when a new character instantly observed that Derek considered Chloe his mate.
In Terry Pratchett's Maskerade, the narrator discusses this trope, in relation to Agnes Nitt. She's a very fat young lady, but in the countryside, this isn't a drawback. Indeed, in Lancre, men are urged to choose their wives by checking out the plumpness of the family: it shows how good the cooking is.
"Young men of Lancre were advised that while kisses eventually lost their fire, cooking actually tended to get BETTER over the years."
This fact is referenced by Nanny Ogg... hasn't stopped her from building up an array of dishes that can super-charge the consumer's libido, though.
Also parodied in another book. Assassins trained by the Assassin's Guild know to carry their knives low: the easiest way to a man's heart actually is through his stomach... then up through the diaphragm.
Also mentioned in Vimes and Sybil's marriage—she can't cook worth beans, but luckily, Vimes actually enjoys bacon he can shatter and rubbery bits in his eggs.
Mat Cauthon of the Wheel of Time believes that if you get a woman to start feeding you, she is halfway won. He happens to be right.
And this is inverted when Tylin tries to deprive him of food to get him in her bed.
In Brian Jacques's Redwall Cornflower's generosity and beneficience are shown by having her perpetually cooking for all the defenders, who all regard her highly. (Even though she is the Love Interest, not so much specifically for Matthias.)
In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Summer Knight, a sidhe offers him mortal food, and he jestingly says, "Marry me," before eating. She expolits the trope to keep him from asking questions she doesn't want to answer.
In John C. Wright's The Orphans of Chaos, Vanity offers to cook for Glum, which lets them manipulate him. She's not an objectively very good cook, but Amelia notes that whatever she makes is mysteriously delicious.
In Titans of Chaos, after Amelia offers Victor some papaya, he says she would make some man a good wife. She spends a long time pondering what exactly he meant. In a slight twist, Victor is normally a better cook than she is.
Bryan Davis' The Eye of the Oracle, Mara feeds Elam from her hand through a hole in the wall when they're imprisoned by Morgan. Later in the series, when they meet face to face and fall in love, Elam often recalls this incident, and at one point vows to give his life to defend "the girl who risked her life to feed me." Their "I love you" hand signal, wiggling fingers, is specifically stated to hark back to that.
Subverted in Betsy-Tacy. Betsy claims that Tib's stolid German cooking would be a disillusioning experience for any boy, no matter how good the food is. Further subverted by the fact that Betsy herself only learns how to cook after marriage, with her husband doing most of the cooking before.
In Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, Barkis decides to marry Peggotty without even speaking to her, just by eating a pie she made. He proposes by sending a message via David: "Barkis is willin'."
In The Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss really loves to eat, and she's particularly fond of Peeta's cheese buns, which he brings her all the time in Catching Fire (despite the fact that things are still pretty awkward between them, and she's now rich enough to just buy bread). This trope is almost subverted to begin with, though: when they were younger, Peeta caught a beating from his mother to provide Katniss with two loaves of bread that saved her and her mother and sister from starvation... and she so loathed the debt she felt towards him that she avoided him until the games forced them together. It's played straight as a manifestation of his character, though.
In the movie, Peeta felt immense guilt over tossing her the bread (as opposed to taking it to her) way back when Katniss and her family were starving, because he later felt like he was treating her like a starving dog (Katniss herself couldn't care less about that and is rather oblivious to his feelings regarding the matter.)
Andine does this to Eliar in David Edding's The Redemption of Althalus. Particularly ironic since the former initially wanted to subject the latter to a slow and horrible death for killing her father. Of course, they had divine interference.
In Robin McKinley's Sunshine, Sunshine herself, and many others in her immediate family, have the impulse to feed people in general. At the end, she is deeply distressed when she realizes she can't feed a house-guest merely because he's a vampire. This is settled when he can drink orange juice.
In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga novel Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Tej defends watching for Ivan on the ground he's bringing dinner, and Rish says her suitors should have brought provisions rather than high connections.
The Dukes of Hazzard: Twisted into knots in "Cool Hands, Luke and Bo." There's no benevolent (and definitely no loving) affection between Col. Cassius Claybourne and his longtime rival, Boss Hogg, only Claybourne's desire to gain revenge on his longtime enemy and wipe him out financially and in so many other ways ... by exploiting his appetite. Before it's done, Boss has eaten chicken, mashed potatoes, blueberry pie, chocolate cake and other high-calorie dishes, and Claybourne has gotten the mortgages to the Boar's Nest, Hazzard Bank, Cooter's Garage, the Boar's Nest, Hogg's used car lot and every other property in Hazzard County.
Monk: The old lady who becomes something of a mother figure to Monk in one episode wins him over by making cubic muffins.
Mellie and her incessant pasta-making on Dollhouse. Despite being a single woman who lives alone, she seems to make lasagne in gigantic portions. It's no real surprise that it works on Ballard.
On The Big Bang Theory, as part of an experiment to increase Sheldon's feelings for her, Amy served him is favorite meal when he was a kid: spaghetti with cut-up pieces of hot dog in it. It worked.
The early paid program ''A Young Man's Fancy'' (first aired in 1952 and later featured on MST3K episode # 610 The Violent Years) has a mother give this advice to her daughter Judy who is trying to win the heart of the ergonomics-obsessed Alexander Phipps. Judy's response is, "Oh, mother that's corny!" In the end the power of food and an electric kitchen win the day.
In the episode "Safe", River shows her gratitude by gathering some berries for Simon.
Pointedly played with in NCIS, where Ziva cooks for everyone except Tony. He is stunned that she's holding dinner parties for absolutely everyone else they work with, including the "autopsy gremlin!" Eventually, she promises to cook for him, but we never see any of the scenes. For more information, see "Boxed In" from Season 3; Ziva's decision to cook for Tony is a result of them spending the episode Locked in a Room.
In a clip from the Talk ShowMaury, a woman accused another woman of luring away her man by cooking him chicken tetrazzini. (It worked. He was cheating on her.) That clip later became a Running Gag on The Soup.
On Misfits, after Nathan has been basically homeless and living on vending machine snacks for five weeks, Kelly finally takes pity on him and cooks him dinner one evening. And the spectacular banquet she prepares for him? Chicken nuggets and spaghetti hoops.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the first episode of the 4th season "The Way of the Warrior" begins with Captain Sisko welcoming his girlfriend Kasidy Yates back to the station with a gift and an extensive romantic dinner that is, unfortunately, interrupted very quickly.
Sisko: My father always said that the way to a woman's heart is through her stomach.
Kasidy: So it's my heart you're after?
Averted later on when Kasidy and Ben are married. Sisko is shown throughout to, unusually for Star Trek, prefer cooking real food rather than eating out of a replicator, largely because his father is a chef. Kasidy tries to cook for him and burns the peppers he'd been growing for months, then agrees that she's best off leaving the cooking to him.
Sisko: No one touches my peppers.
Played for Laughs in an episode of Babylon 5 where Captain Sheridan attempts to cook Minbari food for Delenn. She's absolutely delighted... until she actually tastes it.
On Fringe, Walter accuses Alt-Livia of "us[ing his] stomach to get through to [his] heart" (by buying him pastries.)
Eliot on Leverage uses a platonic variant on the team as a whole. And it's adorable.
On one occasion in Farscape, Crichton secures Jool's help by bribing her with the location of Rygel's stash of wamelon cake.
In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Makoto is seen cooking rice curry for Motoki, who is sick. Four years later, guess who's hooked up with whom? (Mind you, she also cooked for Rei and Ami...)
Usagi also tries to win Mamoru's heart with Valentine's Day chocolate.
The male example from Dexter: Special Agent Frank Lundy cooks dinner for Debra. He barely starts though.
Gilmore Girls: Lane's boyfriend Zach who was for a long time her friend, band-mate and room-mate prepares romantic dinner for her when he plans sleeping with her for the first time. Lane was completely oblivious and then shocked when she got it.
In Flashpoint, a woman rescued by Parker baked some cupcakes to thank the entire team. But Jules pointed out later, that those cupcakes were specifically made for Parker (to hint at her interest/affection for him).
Phoebe once imagines a possible future where Monica is married to a very visibly overweight Joey instead of Chandler. She cooks for him and feeds him with delight.
One of the flashbacks in the series also reveals that an infatuated Monica was convinced to become a chef after she made some macaroni and cheese for Chandler and he told her that she should become one.
Played for drama in Downton Abbey, where the house cook discovers that her prospective husband is only interested in her excellent cooking. When she's not around, he flirts with every woman in sight.
Is a Running Gag for an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where Fitz is called away for his first major field mission without Simmons, who expresses her anxiety over the situation by painstakingly making him his incredibly specific favourite sandwich to take with him. Tragically, the sandwich does not survive to get eaten, but Fitz is obviously touched by the gesture and, when she asks, simply tells her it was delicious.
In the Vocaloid song "Shotarella", Kaito falls in love with Len simply because he gave him "bananaisu"
Happens again in Kaito's version of Melt when he falls for a girl that offers him her ice cream
Jimmy Soul's "If You Wanna Be Happy" (which recommends marrying an ugly woman) has this exchange:
Bachelor: "Hey, man, I seen your wife the other day..."
Bachelor: "Man, she ugleeeeeeeee! Woo!"
Husband: "Yeah, well, she may be ugly, but she sure can cook!"
There's only one thing that they all like a bunch:
Oh, girls just wanna have lunch...
Myths and Legends
In Sumerian myth, Inanna wanted to marry the farmer Enkimdu, but her brother Utu wanted to her marry the shepherd Dumuzi. Dumuzi confronts her and argues, scornfully comparing the dates and other foods the farmer could give her to the cheeses, yogurts, and other dairy products he could. This won the day. As a consequence, her temples maintain massive herds of sheep for the offering of butter and cheese necessary for her worship.
In Frazz, a teacher has her kids cook tamales. She and Frazz discuss the kids vs. men application.
In John Guare's play The House of Blue Leaves, Bunny will sleep with Artie anytime, but won't cook for him till after they're married.
Bunny: Because, Artie, I'm a rotten lay and I know it and you know it and everybody knows it-
Bunny: (...) So if I cooked for you now and said I won't sleep with you till we're married, you'd look forward to sleeping with me so much that by the time we got to that motel near Hollywood, I'd be such a disappointment, you'd never forgive me. My cooking is the only thing I got to lure on you with and hold you with. Artie, we got to keep some magic for the honeymoon.
In the musical Of Thee I Sing, the principal qualification of Mary Turner for her successful bid to become the wife of John P. Wintergreen and First Lady of the United States is her ability to "bake the best darned corn muffins you ever ate." Now, Wintergreen may have made a campaign promise to marry the winner of an Atlantic City beauty contest, but the winner's chances of making him honor his promise are doomed when he finds out she can't make corn muffins.
"Mr. and Mrs. Rorer" from the Bolton, Wodehouse & Kern musical Sitting Pretty.
In The Moon Is Blue, Patty jumps at the chance to cook dinner for Don in his apartment (though he has to buy the groceries first), and David tells him after dinner that she has been trying to invoke this trope:
"The dinner was excellent. Now having established a beach-head in your heart, she's landing in full force on your whole bosom with this dish-washing, see-what-a-superb-housekeeper-I-am routine."
In the portable version of Persona 3, a female main character can opt to cook Ken Amada's favorite dish for him. However, the context in which this scene takes place is entirely up to the player. Interestingly, you level up the rank before you get to the discussion on why she made the meal.
More generally, during Fuuka's Social Link the female protagonist can also make a number of sweets which can be given as gifts during weekend dates; these always go over famously.
Parodied in one of the female troll joke emotes in World of Warcraft: "Da way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but I go through da ribcage."
In the Harvest Moon games, you can raise affection points with many characters by giving them the kind of food they like.
In Sumia and Chrom's supports, she bakes him a series of savory pies (a bento in the Japanese version) in hopes of both winning his heart and help him outside the battlefield. If she's married, her "gift" reply to her husband on an event tile is her showing him that she has made lunch for him... even if she dropped it twice — this event shows up regardless of who said husband is note (Chrom, boy!Avatar, Frederick, Gaius or Henry), so it shows that she cooks for all of her love interests and not just for Chrom, regardless of what the fandom says.
Gaius invokes the trope several times too. He tries to win the aforementioned Olivia's heart with pies and proposes to her via hiding a ring inside a tart he baked for her, helps Lissa improve her cooking, and a good part of his supports with Sumia include their Epic Fail at finding honey for pies. (She manages to bake him a cake in the end.) In his own "gift" dialogue with a girlfriend has him saying he's baked a treat for her.
Stahl wins Panne's trust and affection over by trying to come up with meals she can enjoy with the others. This one's quite justified: being a Taguel instead of a human (meaning she has the dietary needs of a rabbit, the animal that the Taguel are based from), there are several things that Panne simply cannot eat, lest she'll get sick or even die.
As a Ninja Maid, Cherche is said to be a pretty good cook too. Her ending with Stahl has him actually gaining weight from eating all of her delicious food.
Mixed gender example: the Avatar (whether male or female) makes a carrot stew for the aforementioned Panne. S/he is a Lethal Chef. Panne loves it anyway.
The male Avatar starts cooking for Nah in their A Support after seeing that her diet consists of little more than berries, leaves, and roots. She greatly appreciates the gesture because in the Bad Future, where Nah was raised by scornful foster parents, food was scarce, which was especially a problem for a half-dragon like Nah, as manaketes require far more food than humans to survive.
Tharja's daughter Noire is an excellent baker. Her supports with Owain show her baking for him, and if she supports with a Male Avatar who's not her dad he agrees to go out in a date with her to taste her cakes.
The "gift" reply from event tiles involving Cordelia's daughter Severa have her giving her lover something she baked for him. Being a tsundere, she immediately tells him "don't you DARE complain about the taste!"
Sully and Cynthia mention in some of their supports that the village girls often give them savory pies with cream (Sully) and sweet cakes (Cynthia) to show their admiration for them.
In Lon'qu and Cordelia's supports, it's revealed that Cordelia often cooks dinner for the army with this trope in mind.
Cordelia: Right then! To the sound of thunderous gratitude, I'll go and prepare supper. You like cabbage stew, don't you?
Lon'qu: It is my favorite dish. Are you the one who keeps preparing it every meal?
Cordelia: Oh, so you DID notice! Yes, that's me. I like to keep morale up by serving little treats now and then. Anyways, see you at supper!
Innocent Until Caught 2: Presumed Guilty starts with Lovable Rogue Jack T. Ladd being arrested by Cowboy Cop Ysanne Andropath. She refuses to feed him until she drops him in jail, he reminds her that "the path to a man's heart is through his stomach", but she replies that she prefers more direct ways. Like disembowelment with a blaster ray.
Aquapazza, Tamaki tries this with her romantic interest in her ending... by adding Aquapazza to the dish.
Kotonoha in School Days tries this. She's a Lethal Chef, but unusually enough actually seems to get better at it as the show progresses... sort of, at least in the anime and manga. (The Visual Novel is something else)
A recurring theme throughout SHUFFLE! is that all of Rin's potential girlfriends try to win him over by cooking. Despite this, it is a coincidence that the best cook ends up winning him over. In the anime, when he stops eating Kaede's food, it is a sign that he is neglecting her. And we know where that brings us.
An inordinate amount of time in Fate/stay night seems to be spent on cooking. Shirou, Rin and Sakura can cook (different styles, but they can all cook). Taiga can't. Saber mainly just eats.
Sakura is the one actually trying for this trope with Shirou. It's somewhat ironic, considering that he's the one who taught her how to cook. Still, she eagerly learns as much as she can, from him and on her own, and he proudly acknowledges that she's managed to surpass him.
Kohaku uses this method to get closer to Saber in Battle Moon Wars after Shiro warns her not to over do it because Saber will never forget a meal. She does the exact opposite.
Episode 5 of the anime also features everyone, including the guys and Cookie, catching on to Mayuuchi's idea, and showers him with whatever food they happen to carry. For added hilarity, Momoyo mentions that she's eaten half her yakisoba-pan (bread filled with noodles), which would mean an indirect kiss. This causes the rest of the girls to take bites out of what they gave him.
In Little Busters!, this comes up a few times: Haruka cooks for Riki multiple times in her route, partially to earn his affection and is really distressed when she realises that he's been unknowingly eating Kanata's food as well, and even preferred hers. Kurugaya also offers to make bento for Riki, though after they've started going out. Masato turns it around - his idea for how a guy should confess to a girl is to just go up to her and declare 'from tomorrow, you're going to be making me bento every day!' All of his demonstrations of this line fail, however.
At one point, Faye of Questionable Content turns this on it's head, proclaiming that "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. That way, you don't have to chop through that pesky ribcage." Also kinda played straight here.
Magick Chicks had this twice: Faith made some food twice for Tiffany, who saved her from an enraged vampire — which was Faith's own fault — by giving her own blood, and got drained too much — which also was entirely Faith's fault — both to fix blood loss and to seduce her. But she is a terrible cook. Jacqui later made some waffles for her fallback boyfriend (and Faith's brother) Paul.
In a Mickey Mouse Works short, Minnie becomes tired of eating the same sandwiches at picnics because Mickey can't cook. When Mickey later sees Minnie talking to José Carioca (of all people) about how he's going to prepare her a gourmet meal, he panics (thinking that Minnie wants to date José because of his cooking ability) and tries to learn how to cook. Minnie tells him that's not necessary, because she was just hiring José to cater their picnics. Guess what José prepares...
Ed, Edd n Eddy The Kanker Sisters attempted to win over the Eds with three extremely greasy and unhealthy burgers, topped with pure lard. As Lee Kanker said, "The way to a man's heart is through his arteries."
Jimmy Two-Shoes: Heloise attempts this on a semi-regular basis to win Jimmy's affections, including snacks "whipped up from scratch" and two very complete picnics (Beezy and Cerbee ruined the first). For an independent career woman, Heloise takes a surprising amount of pride in her cooking skills.
Time Squad: Larry often tries to serve Tuddrussel exotic and often bizarre food that he prepared, such as a turkey stuffed with gravy and with a single cherry on top. He declares at one point during an argument over the food, "I was trying to do something special."
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a platonic (or not quite) example when Applejack butters up Twilight by offering her a huge selection of treats in exchange for the second ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala. It doesn't work.
In the 1937 Merrie Melodies short "I Only Have Eyes for You", a lonely spinster tries to woo an iceman with her culinary talents. It initially fails since he only has eyes for another girl who is only interested in crooners. The iceman hires a voice imitator and hides him in the back of his ice-truck so he can pretend to be a crooner. The scheme ultimately fails but everything still works out for the best: the girl falls in love with the voice imitator, the iceman is won over by the spinster's cooking.
The Al Brodax Popeye cartoon "Duel To The Finish," which in spite of its title was devoid of inherent violence, had Olive trying to make Popeye jealous by wooing Wimpy. And what obvious way to woo Wimpy than through his stomach. Popeye laughs off Wimpy's flattering of Olive (using culinary metaphors) until he hears Olive kiss Wimpy. Popeye challenges him to a duel, and Wimpy chooses an eating duel. After so many hamburgers, Popeye concedes, unable to eat any more, but then Wimpy concedes Olive to him after he hears her say she can't cook another thing.
Popeye: Olive, the next time ya wants to makes me jealous, gives me some notice so I can diets fer it! (groans)
Truth In Television
Cooking a meal for someone is a good way to show you care, and will gain favor with anyone.
Feeding is also a very good way of winning over an animal, especially a domesticated one.
in TV and movies, an animal actor's food is essentially their salary. Result: Once the animal's appetite is satiated, they're pretty much done for the day (not always the case for domesticated animal actors, but for wild animal actors, once they've eaten their fill they tend to prefer the strange bald creatures let them rest)
One of Glamour magazines best known recipes is "Engagement Chicken', a lemon and herb roast chicken dish,discovered by one of its writers in 1982. The recipe earned this nickname after many women who prepared the dish and served it to their boyfriends—starting with three of the editors at the magazine—were engaged soon afterward. Even shock-jock Howard Stern proposed to his girlfriend after she served him the dish.