A Pregnancy Trope. During any pregnancy, at some point the mother will experience cravings — however, they will never be cravings for any standard foodstuff (such as pickles, ice cream, etc), but will instead be cravings for the most hilariously inappropriate and mismatched foods (chocolate covered kippers, boiled eggs and ice-cream, peanut butter-dipped pickles, etc). Bonus points are awarded if the woman craves something that is either (a) extremely difficult if not physically impossible to find; (b) isn't actually food or (c) both.
The trope often involves the father being roped into visiting late-night markets at 3 AM in search of that particular brand of pickled radishes and pistachio-flavored ice cream. Usually, this state of affairs will result in the father being stretched to breaking point to find the necessary goods... only to find, when he returns home, that the mother no longer craves it (usually without so much as a "thank you for traveling across five states and climbing a mountain to get it").
A case of Truth in Television — some women actually do crave inedible things during pregnancy. In many cases, a woman doesn't even have to be pregnant. Some are prone to wild cravings during "that time of the month," to the confusion of any men present. This is probably a milder form of a condition known as "pica"; those afflicted with full-blown pica will crave all sorts of bizarre stuff 24/7, regardless of gender.
Compare the Extreme Omnivore, someone who always eats this way (e.g. the aforementioned full-blown pica).
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Almost any commercial with a pregnant woman as a character that has her giving dialogue and where it isn't for an actual pregnancy product. (Though some of those have it, too.)
A print ad from the 1970s for Camel Cigarettes — whose tag line was "I'd walk a mile for a Camel" — had a picture of a man next to a jar of pickles and an empty box of vanilla ice cream, and in this case it was not that he had run out of cigarettes, which is why they usually had to leave. The caption at the bottom, "Start Walking", meaning in this case he had to walk a mile for a half-gallon of ice cream for his (presumably) pregnant wife instead of for his cigarettes.
One ad had a pregnant woman ask her husband to go out for something *insert adjective ending in "ewy" here*, adding a different quality even as he's getting in the car.
Early on in Tenchi Muyo!, Ryoko tricks the crew into thinking she pregnant (and that Tenchi's the father) by claiming to crave pickles and ice cream.
Briefly happens in Naruto when Kushina is pregnant in a flashback
Superman #666 starts with a heavily pregnant Lois craving ice cream and pickles. When she miscarries, Clark reveals to the demon trying to cause him despair that he knew this was a simulation the whole time: "Lois isn't that much of a cliché!"
One The Far Side strip has a termite queen ordering her workers to bring pickles and ice cream.
In "Rapunzel" the girl is held captive by a Wicked Witch who caught her father stealing rampion for his pregnant wife and demanded her in return for her father's life. As are Petrosinella and The Fair Angiola, whose mothers had robbed the witch of her herbs and had to pay the same price. Herbs may not seem wacky — unless you want to eat them plain, and have to have the ones owned by a dangerous sorceress.
In The Discreet Princess, a prince seduces two daughters of a king he hates, but the third, Finette (the one he really hates), manages to outwit him (with the added bonus of a number of injuries to him). Naturally, he holds a grudge. So, in order to draw her out of the tower where the sisters are locked, he leaves a few fruit outside, fully aware that the sisters will be begging Finette to get them these at all cost.
Pepper of Iron Man gained the crazy cravings of pickles despite the fact that she hated pickles and it turns out that she was pregnant . In the sequel, she gained the oddest craving of frozen coke.
In Meeting Bill Hermione made herself a concoction of peanut-butter curry, asparagus, rice and chicken.
Murray:(on phone) What do you want, Mimi? A corned-beef sandwich and strawberry malted? Oscar: Is she pregnant again? Murray: No, just fat.
After the Thin Man offers a subtle example; Nora doesn't officially announce she's pregnant until the very end of the movie, but beforehand makes odd requests like scrambled eggs at three o'clock in the morning. As she says to Nick: "And you call yourself a detective..."
In Den Nya Människan, the first hint that Gertrud is pregnant is when she starts eating pickled gherkins from the pantry.
In The Belgariad sequel series The Malloreon, during Ce'Nedra's pregnancy, she got these sorts of cravings, mainly just to mess with Belgarion. In a subversion, it was never a problem, since Garion (a sorcerer) could simply create whatever food she wanted out of thin air.
The same subversion appears in the prequel novel Belgarath The Sorcerer, when Poledra is pregnant with the twins.
In the Discworld novel Guards! Guards!!, the pet dragon that ends up foisted upon Vimes has these, but not because it's pregnant... it's because he's instinctively transforming himself into a living jet engine.
Darling, I know this sounds fantastic and utterly absurd, but I have an uncontrollable desire for that variety of European Bellflower.
In her Mémoires, Laure Junot describes how she started to crave pineapple during her first pregnancy, after her mother and her mother-in-law all but convinced her that her child would be born deformed if she didn't crave anything. No big deal, right? Well, this was the early 19th century and pineapples were not in season. Cue her poor husband searching high and low for a ripe pineapple and eventually taking one from the First Consul's greenhouses... And in a textbook example of the trope, it turned out that Laure could not even stand the sight or smell of the fruit.
During Alisande's pregnancy in A Wizard in Rhyme she finds herself craving a hot fudge sundae. The "wacky" part comes from the fact that she lives in an Alternate Universe medieval France where ice cream doesn't exist, so all she can do is describe a food she that she doesn't even have a name for.
Live Action TV
Almost any 1970s British sitcom that featured a pregnancy at some point was required by law to feature these.
In Latin America, this trope is often coupled with the old wives' tale that if you don't satisfy the craving, the kid will be born with a physical symbol of that unsatisfied desire, giving this trope a bigger sense of urgency. In one old Sketch Show, a man tried to discredit that old tale, saying that while his mother was expecting him she craved watching Tarzan movies (in an age before home video, when those movies were not available anyway), but he was born and grew up healthy and normal... and then he makes the archetypical Tarzan yell.
In V, Robin, pregnant with a hybrid, craves red meat to the point that she wakes in the night and yanks it uncooked from the refrigerator to eat. Or, in the 2009 remake V (2009), Valerie (also pregnant with a hybrid), almost eats a mouse caught in a trap.
In 'Demon Seed'', the mother of the titular child, conceived through similar methods, also craves red meat to the point of eating it raw.
Gail in American Gothic begins to eat some raw meat when she is pregnant with Lucas's child. She claims she is just hungry and doesn't have time to wait for the meat to cook.
Angel's Cordelia raided Angel's supply of pigs' blood during her demonic pregnancy episode.
Angel: I never quite realize how disgusting that is.
When Darla was pregnant she started to crave innocent blood. Well, she was already a vampire.
Full House: Becky had a craving for sour cream and onion potato chips. By the time Jesse gets back from the market, she's changed her mind. Anticipating this, he bought "every chip known to man — the Pregnancy Variety Pack." Alas, he didn't get any with ridges...
On Sesame Street, during Maria's pregnancy with Gabriella, her cravings led her to try Grouch cuisine, which is always depicted as very disgusting mash-ups such as marshmallow sauce over fish — and she loves it to Oscar's delight and Luis's disgust.
An episode of Xena: Warrior Princess finds Xena, Gabrielle, and some young friends ordering food in a tavern. Xena orders something extremely bizarre that everyone else notices except her. Later it's revealed that she is pregnant with Eve (no, not that Eve).
Parodied in Scrubs when Dr Cox brought Jordan a live goat.
Star Trek: Voyager, during the episode Elogium where Kes goes through false puberty and her body readies for conception. She eats beetles, nitrogenated planting soil, mashed potatoes with butter (with soil), assorted fruits, and even the flowers Neelix brings her to apologize for his jealousy over Tom... all in the space of a few minutes.
On Friends, pregnant vegetarian Phoebe craves meat, much to her horror. She trades with Joey, who promises not to eat meat throughout the rest of her pregnancy in order to balance out the universe.
Vala requests pancakes and brownie fudge ice cream during her pregnancy on Stargate SG-1. Incidentally, this was before she got around to telling anyone in the SGC, though a sharp-eyed viewer would have noticed.
In the third season premiere of Dexter, Rita is constantly craving chocolate pudding. When Dexter comes home to find her making more, he comments on it. Rita responds by freezing and then saying, "Oh, shit. I've done this before... I'm pregnant!"
On Saved by the Bell, Mr. Belding's pregnant wife asks for a combination of ginger ale and peanut butter. Screech notes that's his favorite.
On Quantum Leap, after Sam leaps into the body of pregnant woman, he craves Jello and onions.
When Lucy is "expecting" Little Ricky on I Love Lucy, she sends Ricky out in the middle of the night to find a store that makes a papaya milkshake—as well as sardines to mix in and a pickle to dip in it.
In one episode of Three's Company, Cindy is Mistaken for Pregnant by Jack and Janet. One thing that supposedly confirms their suspicions is when Janet sees Cindy making a tuna fish and jelly sandwich.
Doctor Who has a non-pregnancy-related example: the Eleventh Doctor spends a good ten minutes after his regeneration trying to figure out exactly what it is he's craving, working his way through most of the contents of Amelia's kitchen before eventually settling on fish fingers and custard.
Not to mention his horrified reactions to all other food: "Apples are rubbish!" "Beans are evil." "I hate yogurt, it's just stuff with bits in it" "Are you trying to poison me?" culminating with being so offended at the taste of a slice of bread and butter that he goes all the way down the hallway to the front door so he can fling it across the yard in disgust.
Happens in the Australian SitcomHome Sweet Home where Maria started craving things like fruit salad and tomato sauce while pregnant. Results in a false trip to the hospital for what turns out to be indigestion.
During Peggy's pregnancy arc on Married... with Children, she has a heavy craving for tapioca, and when she calls for it from upstairs, the kids are seen shoveling it from a giant drum in the living room. She also craved "tobacky and clam" ice cream, and would take food from one restaurant to combine with food from another.
During one episode of Croc Diaries Steve Irwin's wife Terri decides to tell him about her second pregnancy by setting up a meal of pickles and ice cream and mentioning the craving when Steve walks in, and you can watch the wheels in his head turn in realization.
On an episode of Bewitched, Samantha has weird cravings during her pregnancy and being a witch, something causes whatever food she wants to magically appear in her hand. She gets that fixed, but then when she has a craving it causes her to go to where the food is.
More of a Hilarious in Hindsight moment of The X-Files; Scully was portrayed as a health nut for seven seasons, very rarely indulging in junk food. She even went as far as stirring bee pollen into yogurt (even though Mulder tells her she's a scientist and should know better..) While pregnant in season eight, we see her ordering junk food—specifically pizza—which is mentioned later that same episode to have been a regular habit of hers.
In A Moody Christmas, the pregnant woman (who never passes up an opportunity to mention her pregnancy) says that she sometimes craves salt-and-vinegar chips and ice cream.
In the Grimm episode "Endangered" the Glühenvolk (glowing blue Wesen who are the source of UFO myths) crave cow ovaries when pregnant. That's the reason for cattle mutilations.
In the Bones seventh season premiere, a pregnant Brennan is seen swiping Booth's apple pie while they're having lunch at the Founding Fathers. This is particularly notable since Brennan in the past has stated that she disliked pie due to her distaste for cooked fruit, while Sweets had suggested that Booth's attempts to get Brennan to eat a slice of pie were a form of subtle seduction.
At one point in the 2004 ITV adaptation of The Murder at the Vicarage, Griselda Clement (the vicar's wife) asks for apricot chutney to season her meal, from which Miss Marple deduces that Griselda is pregnant.
Mad Men: The Drapers' neighbor Francine Hanson, pregnant near the beginning of Season 1, says while preparing snacks with Betty for Sally's birthday party in Episode 3, "All this one wants is raw hamburger. What does that say?"
In The Fosters, Lena eats spaghetti and potato chips for breakfast because "the baby wants it".
Stand Up Comedy
Alan King said in a bit that his wife told him she was pregnant by waking him up at two in the morning and asking him to go get her an ice cream sundae with a ridiculously long list of toppings, "and a sour pickle".
Discussed in the opera Street Scene: Panicky Expectant Father Mr. Buchanan mentions in "When A Woman Has A Baby" that his wife "wants soft-shell crabs at Christmas and oysters in July."
Wives in Harvest Moon games will often have these as early indicators of their pregnancy.
Pregnant women in The Sims 2 and 3 sometimes get wishes to eat odd combinations of food, like spaghetti and ice cream.
In one episode of Doug, Doug ends up pet-sitting Roger's cat Stinky. When Doug gives into the cat's demands for pizza and ice cream, he thinks he's done something terrible when the cat starts acting strangely afterward, but in the end, to everyone's surprise (including Roger's!), it turns out that Stinky was a girl all along, and pregnant.
At one point in the Home Movies episode Cradles and Caskets, the woman that Brendon's dad marries is seen eating a bucket of fried chicken and dipping it in butterscotch.
In the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "Pizza By The Shred" when Michelangelo is a "Weird Pizza" delivery boy hired by Shredder, he delivered a pickle and ice cream pizza to a pregnant woman.
The Simpsons: In the 'In the Na'Vi' segment of "Treehouse of Horror XXII", Kang reveals that pregnancy is particularly difficult for females of his species as their planet has no pickles and their only ice cream is butterbrickle.
Marge craved pancake mix during her pregnancies.
Implied in Adventure Time, as at the end of one episode Jake is seen mixing pickles into a bowl of ice cream for Lady Rainicorn.
In an episode of Superjail!, one of the Twins goes into a spontaneous pregnancy/budding and winds up craving cleaning products and fertilizer. The first sign of his bizarre cravings occurs when he attempts to devour a lunch lady whole and has to be pried off.
Before the modern days of decent nutrition, pregnant women would crave for chalk — it contains calcium, which is necessary to build up the bones and teeth of the baby.
Geophagy (eating of dirt and clay) still happens with pregnant women in some poorer countries, and parts of the U.S. South.
It is still encouraged in parts of West Africa. In Ghana, for example, ground up clay in little sticks known as "ayilo" can be found on sale just about everywhere. Some people acquire quite a taste for them and eat them just for fun.
Similarly, some pregnant women crave charcoal, as it helps with gastric problems.
Chalk isn't even that unusual. Flavored chalk is commonly used as an antacid. It's even recommended as a calcium supplement.
Vegetarian Kari Byron had a craving for beef stew (her mom's recipe) while she was pregnant. Her husband got stuck with the job of preparing it.
In the Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 82a of Tractate Yoma mentions pregnancy cravings for non-kosher food. The passage discusses a pregnant woman who craves pork on Yom Kippur! (Yep, it's allowed! Still, check with your rabbi first.)
Some hypothesize that various isotopes, such as Carbon-13, are necessary for long-term health in a baby. Since we do not currently keep track of these on nutritional labels, it's not that far a stretch to imagine a pregnant woman developing cravings for odd foodstuffs that have contained these isotopes in the past - only to lose interest as soon as she finds that the particular samples brought back lack them.
Non-pregnancy example: Many people on diets will crave one bizarre thing or another. Sometimes it's simply missing a favorite food, but sometimes, especially if the craving is pretty odd, it could be that the way they've structured their diet has left them lacking in some vital nutrient.
Likewise, people lost at sea in life rafts have been known to develop cravings for parts of fish — bones, eyeballs, guts, scales — that are normally discarded, due to these parts' containing essential nutrients not abundant in the muscles.
Alyson Hannigan gave up vegetarianism during her pregnancy, in favor of meat, cheese and ginger ale.
Real Life women (and men) will tend to crave things that are low in their usual diets. Women who eat low-fat may crave high-fat foods, vegetarians may crave meat, and women who eat a lot of junk will crave vegetables. The craving is usually somewhat specific (peanut butter, for example) but, given general decent health otherwise, it's usually not outrageous, impossible, or inexplicable.
While women in Real Life can and sometimes do crave non-food items, it's no laughing matter. Depending on what it is she's craving (such as paint chips) and if she actually tries to eat it, it means she has to see a doctor. Now.