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Food Interrogation

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Offering food and comfort to acquire information

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Basara-kun on Oct 9th 2018 at 9:16:19 AM
Last Edited By:
Basara-kun on Nov 8th 2018 at 6:13:38 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

A new draft by Basara-kun. Diferent from the others I made, this time it's a remake of the ones by DRCEQ and Rikun, mixing both drafts and making an unified one that works better than the old ones. As always, any help is welcome.

PS: DRCEQ and Rikun, you're free to edit this draft to add more stuff, after all, your drafts make this idea before.


http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/InterrogationFoodBowl_4543.jpg
Go ahead, Nagasume. Eat up. It'll make you feel better...

Kyle Rogers: I will reveal nothing. You may begin torturing me.
Col. Jack O'Neill: Oh, I've already begun. This... is the infamous Tuna Torture. (waves a tuna sandwich under Rogers's nose)

The Good Cop/Bad Cop routine is about trying to get information out of someone. Since Tropes Are Flexible, this doesn't necessarily have to be cops against a prisoner. Someone who wants information from another person will try this routine, first demanding that their captive tell them what they know, and then getting harsher in their treatment.

If that doesn't work, it's time to try being nice. They'll try to temp them with food. How about a nice hot bowl of rice? Maybe some udon noodles will help ease your mind? Maybe a juicy steak or a cheeseburger can do the work too. It doesn't necessarily have to be a bowl or plate of food, but it does have to be food (delicious one, of course) being offered as part of a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine to count for this trope.

This trope is very common in Anime with the usual depiction of "katsudon" (rice topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet, egg, vegetables, and condiments, usually served in a white and blue striped bowl), but in general every delicious plate offered to get the truth works on this trope too.

Subtrope of Good Cop/Bad Cop and Food as Bribe, and supertrope to No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine. See also Pet the Dog, in which food is not the only kind way to make someone confess. Also related to In Vino Veritas, which includes plying someone with alcohol in the hope that they'll let something slip through drunkenness. May be used by a character who believes Torture Is Ineffective and prefers to try to form a bond with the subject. Can overlaps with Slipping a Mickey, in which the food probably has Truth Serums so the suspect can tell the truth without knowing it.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In My Bride is a Mermaid, Nagasume gets interrogated by Mowari Zenigata. She wants to know why she spotted Nagasumi and Sun emerge from the same household that morning. Nagasume ends up getting turned on by her gestures and methods... She eventually breaks Nagasume by tempting him with a bowl of fried pork with rice.
    Nagasumi: I don't know why, but this little act of hers is exciting me... I don't mind this too much. Maybe I'll keep my mouth shut a little longer.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al are taken in by the police under suspicion that they are working with the mysterious thief known as Psiren. They quickly establish who they really are, and the police offer Edward bowls of rice as an apology. Edward starts stuffing his face with bowl after bowl of rice, but eventually succumbs to minor food poisoning from eating too much.
  • In the Banned Episode "Legend of Dratini" from Pokémon, Officer Jenny accuses Ash of being part of a group of poachers who are going after Dratini. She tries to sweat him for information at first, then offers a food bowl to coax him. New information then shows up that proves he had no connection and she sets him free.
  • Subverted in Naruto, when Karin is being interrogated for information on Sasuke and the Akatsuki, she demands a fried pork cutlet bowl or they wouldn't get any info out of her. The other ninjas start talking about whether there's even a shop that makes such foods. They offer her Ichiraku ramen, but she declines.
  • Played for Laughs in Pop Team Epic in which there's a Four Koma about Popuko being interrogated by Pipimi and being offered a bowl of katsudon, always as the bad cop. The gag passed to the anime twice, one mixed with the "Masashi Super Dry" gag and the second exaggerated for Bob Epic Team.
  • The Devil Is a Part-Timer! has a pair of demons transported to Earth, where the lack of Mana causes them to be De Powered and become almost identical to humans. They soon cause enough trouble to be taken in by the police and offered a bowl of katsudon... which they mishear as "Khatsu-doum" and assume must be something powerful.

Film - Animated

  • Played With in The LEGO Movie: As Emmet is interrogated by Bad Cop, he asks about seeing a Good Cop. Bad Cop then switches to Good Cop and offers him a glass of water. As Emmet accepts, Bad Cop switches back and knocks the glass away.

Film - Live-Action

Jokes

  • There's an Internet meme along these lines:
    Suspect: I ain't talkin'.
    Cop: (sharpens knife) We got ways of making people talk. (cuts a piece of cake)
    Suspect: Can I have some?
    Cop: Cake is for talkers.

Literature

  • A Russian variation was described by dissident author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. A more subtle trick used by the NKVD/KGB when softening up a suspect was to deprive them of comforts while in custody. After a few weeks of deprivation, they'd be offered good solid home cooking, something they'd missed after weeks of inadequate prison rations. The idea was that this would relax them and induce a sense of well-being in which they'd let things slip and begin, of their own free will, to talk - with no need for torture or negative inducement. This worked. A variation of a theme was that the detainee would be given well-prepared good food - but in inadequately small portions that served to remind them they were in prison, and which would act as a psychological as well as a physical torment. the implied threat was that even this reminder of what they were missing could be withdrawn - or the amount on the plate could be increased if they were prepared to co-operate.
  • Dolores Umbridge does this to Harry Potter in The Order of the Phoenix, she gives him a cup of tea when questioning him but it has Veritaserum in it which would make him tell all his secrets. She also questions other people this way, too, at least in The Movie.
  • Discussed in Red Storm Rising; an American naval officer tells the bosun to pipe aboard the survivors of a Soviet submarine and salute them. He then tells another officer to be as kind as possible to the Soviet sailors, as it would make them more open to interrogation, and also refers to Hanns Scharff's techniques. Later in the book, similar methods are used on a well-connected Soviet fighter pilot who is rescued at sea.
  • Different Seasons: In Apt Pupil, this was Kurt Dussander's favored interrogation method at the concentration camp he was an officer in:
    In the room Dussander used for prisoner interrogations there was a hotplate and a homely kitchen table covered with a red checked cloth much like the one in his own kitchen. There was always a pot of lamb stew bubbling mellowly away on that hotplate. When contraband was suspected (and when was it not...) a member of the suspected clique would be brought to that room. Dussander would stand them by the hotplate, where the rich fumes from the stew wafted. Gently, he would ask them Who. Who is hiding gold? Who is hiding jewellery? Who has tobacco? Who gave the Givenet woman the pill for her baby? Who? The stew was never specifically promised; but always the aroma eventually loosened their tongues.

Live-Action TV

  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Sisko & O'Brien have semi crash-landed on a planet which has a field that neutralizes all technology. They're put to work, but they don't change their Starfleet uniforms for native wear, and O'Brien sneaks off to try to get his communicator working. As punishment, Sisko (his superior officer) is put in "the Box". He comes out dehydrated, and the leader pours him a glass of water, saying he can have it when he changes out of uniform. In response, Sisko walks away and puts himself back in the box.
  • Stargate SG-1: Played for Laughs in "Rules of Engagement". Having brought Rogers, an injured offworlder, back to the SGC for treatment, Jack begins trying to get information out of him by pointing out the food tray the medical staff brought him.
  • There's a plenty of cases on Law & Order where they offer a suspect something to eat (usually fast food), particularly a young one. In fact there's even a subversion in SVU where they feed the guy soda so they can get a look at his dongle in the loo (since their suspect had a penis piercing).
  • Played for Drama in the Babylon 5 episode "Intersections in Real Time". The interrogator attempting to break Captain Sheridan's will and get him to make a public confession offers him half of his sandwich after talking it up. It's drugged with an emetic that the interrogator himself is immune to. He later returns and gives Sheridan a glass of electrolyte water to make up the nutrients Sheridan just vomited up.
  • Nash Bridges once had to get some answers out of an escaped criminal who happened to be a noted gourmand. So naturally, he serves him very nice food. The criminal gives him the information requested along with some Description Porn for the food.

Podcasts

  • This NPR podcast recounts how the town of Aarhus in Denmark chose to deal with local Muslim boys who had traveled to Syria in the 2010s (usually suspected to have gone to fight with Daesh). It starts with a couple of plainclothes police officers calling the house to invite the young man out for coffee and just talking with him about his experiences or whatever comes to mind.

Video Games


Feedback: 31 replies

Oct 9th 2018 at 9:27:50 AM

OK, finally I remade the old drafts into this one, remarking more on food in general than just in katsudon. Also, I added examples that were in the posts wasn't added to any of the drafts.

I hope this one can do it, since this is a potential trope and I hope this is working now (you know, the third time's the charm). As said above, DRCEQ and Rikun, you're free to edit this draft as if were yours ;)

Oct 9th 2018 at 11:14:02 AM

My one criticism would be to put a line or two in the trope description about what the officers are expecting to happen when they do this to someone (make the person drop their guard so they're more likely to let information slip that they otherwise wouldn't when they're on edge, etc). As someone who's unfamiliar with this trope I was a bit confused as to how feeding someone counted as an interrogation, and I only understood why this was being done when I got to the Russain Literature example. At first I thought this was a bribery trope (eg. "tell me what I need to know and then I'll let you eat").

Oct 9th 2018 at 11:43:57 AM

The first paragraph has some grammar issues. Maybe rewrite to something like:

The Good Cop Bad Cop routine is about trying to get information out of someone. Since Tropes Are Flexible, this doesn't necessarily have to be cops against a prisoner. Someone who wants information from another person will try this routine, first demanding that their captive tell them what they know, and then getting harsher in their treatment.

Oct 9th 2018 at 12:55:06 PM

^Thanks for the rewrite, I'll change it in the description ;)

^^I was thinking in put that into an real life section, but I wasn't sure about it, and since it was made by a famous Russian writer I decided to put it there. it was one of the examples I found on the replies of one of the past drafts and I gues it was worth to add it as example

Oct 9th 2018 at 1:34:24 PM

Is this distinct enough from Food As Bribe?

Oct 9th 2018 at 1:35:33 PM

Played with in The LEGO Movie: As Emmet is interrogated by Bad Cop, he asks about seeing a good cop. Bad Cop then switches to Good Cop and offers him a glass of water. As Emmet accepts, Bad Cop switches back and knocks the glass away.

Oct 9th 2018 at 5:31:20 PM

^^ this trope is limited for interrogation, i.e seeking info. That trope can be used to ask for anything so long as they use food as the bribe.

Oct 9th 2018 at 6:05:22 PM

^Still a subtrope though

Oct 10th 2018 at 11:19:03 AM

^Also, being offered food doesn't mean the interrogated would say yes. I'll add it to the description BTW

Oct 11th 2018 at 12:50:21 PM

Discussed in Red Storm Rising; an American naval officer tells the bosun to pipe aboard the survivors of a Soviet submarine and salute them. He then tells another officer to be as kind as possible to the Soviet sailors, as it would make them more open to interrogation, and also refers to Hanns Scharff's techniques (and also tells him to leave a bottle in the prisoners' cell). Later in the book, similar methods are used on a well-connected Soviet fighter pilot who is rescued at sea.

Oct 10th 2018 at 6:01:36 PM

@description: Food As Bribe is the supertrope, not the subtrope of this

Nov 2nd 2018 at 5:59:31 PM

May be used by a character who believes Torture Is Ineffective and prefers to try to form a bond with the subject.

TV:

Nov 2nd 2018 at 6:12:04 PM

Podcasts:

  • This NPR podcast recounts how the town of Aarhus in Denmark chose to deal with local Muslim boys who had traveled to Syria in the 2010s (usually suspected to have gone to fight with Daesh). It starts with a couple of plainclothes police officers calling the house to invite the young man out for coffee and just talking with him about his experiences or whatever comes to mind.

Nov 2nd 2018 at 7:00:42 PM

Everything from the first two drafts have come together to form a pretty solid trope so far. I don't have any more recent examples to offer at the time, but thank you for using my old suggested image.

Nov 5th 2018 at 10:25:12 AM

I would like to hat this, but for some reason it isn't letting me...? I keep clicking "yes" to hat it and nothing happens... :(

Nov 5th 2018 at 12:05:13 PM

Yeah, that's strange, i can't edit it either. Same happened with my both "Celebrity" drafts... could be a bug of TLP maybe?? or am I blocked for some reason I don't know?? :O

Nov 5th 2018 at 12:10:11 PM

^ Can't edit "Cult Defector"...

Nov 5th 2018 at 2:14:50 PM

^,^^,^^^Try refreshing the page. Your edits probably took effect, it's just that the page reloading script is glitching.

Nov 5th 2018 at 2:38:09 PM

Yeah I always have to refresh the page to actually see any change made.

The history for this page says that Basara-Kun last edited the draft this morning.

Nov 5th 2018 at 5:49:12 PM

^^ With me, it doesn't even bring up the edit screen. It does nothing.

Nov 5th 2018 at 5:52:40 PM

Seen It A Million Times is TLP tag lingo and shouldn't be in the actual article.

Other than that, this looks good!

Nov 5th 2018 at 8:54:53 PM

As far as I can tell, I can't even start to edit any TLP draft right now.

Nov 6th 2018 at 3:41:08 AM

Fiuuuu, I thought I was the only one with this problem, I hope this can be solved soon. At least we can post here in TLP

Nov 6th 2018 at 3:56:37 AM

Yeppppp the edit function isn't even showing up when I click it for this draft. :/

If this keeps up, the best we can do is hope it gets added a 5th hat, and then the trope can be launched and the commentary immediately edited out. It's not the usual troper way, but given the circumstances...

Nov 6th 2018 at 9:13:52 AM

Live Action Television

  • Nash Bridges once had to get some answers out of an escaped criminal who happened to be a noted gourmand. So naturally, he serves him very nice food. The criminal gives him the information requested along with some Description Porn for the food.

Nov 6th 2018 at 10:56:06 AM

In Apt Pupil, this was Kurt Dussander's favored interrogation method at the concentration camp he was an officer in: "In the room Dussander used for prisoner interrogations there was a hotplate and a homely kitchen table covered with a red checked cloth much like the one in his own kitchen. There was always a pot of lamb stew bubbling mellowly away on that hotplate. When contraband was suspected (and when was it not…) a member of the suspected clique would be brought to that room. Dussander would stand them by the hotplate, where the rich fumes from the stew wafted. Gently, he would ask them Who. Who is hiding gold? Who is hiding jewellery? Who has tobacco? Who gave the Givenet woman the pill for her baby? Who? The stew was never specifically promised; but always the aroma eventually loosened their tongues."

Nov 7th 2018 at 11:00:11 AM

Everything works again, so take my hat!

Nov 7th 2018 at 2:53:35 PM

  • There's an Internet meme along these lines:
    Suspect: I ain't talkin'.
    Cop: (sharpens knife) We got ways of making people talk. (cuts a piece of cake)
    Suspect: Can I have some?
    Cop: Cake is for talkers.

Nov 8th 2018 at 4:56:14 AM

Might want to add a reference to Slipping A Mickey somewhere in the description, as that's come up in a few examples.

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