"Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"
In media, eating food can give a character nightmares. Whether it's because the food was eaten in excess or there's something special about the food in all, the character will suffer from Bad Dreams — sometimes featuring the food somehow.
It's also common for characters deep in denial to Discuss this trope in order to reject the idea that some obvious symbolism in their dream (for example, a Homoerotic or Recurring Dream) actually means anything, or (as with Scrooge in the page quote) that something fantastical is actually happening in real life.
A variant of the Mushroom Samba commonly found in sitcoms and cartoons. Humor using this trope is often combined with No More for Me, as the dreamer doesn't want it to happen again. Despite the superficially similar name, probably won't take you to an Acid-Trip Dimension — different kind of acid, for one thing. Not to be confused with Nutritional Nightmare.
Truth in Television, as anyone who's eaten at D'Leon's after dark will tell you.
- In this commercial for California Raisins, a Claymation version of Michael Jackson blames his weird dream on something he ate.
- In a commercial for the Seattle Mariners baseball team, after the Mariner Moose had a nightmare about being replaced by a latte mascot, Jamie Moyer blames it on the nachos he ate before bed.
- In a commercial for the Brazilian soft drink Guarana Antarctica, legendary Argentinian football player Diego Maradona drinks too much of the advertised product and has a nightmare about being on the Brazilian team.
- This actually drives part of the plot in Gene Luen Yang's Loyola Chin and the San Peligran Order. The title character starts experimenting with the sorts of dreams she gets from eating odd combinations of foods, which leads to her encounter with Saint Danger of the titular San Peligran Order.
- In the ScroogeMcDuck comic The Dream of a Lifetime by Don Rosa, the Beagle Boys invade Scrooge's dreams to steal the door combinations to his money bin's vault. When the dreams (all recollections from Scrooge's adventurous past) get too wild for them they pin it down to pre-bedtime meals.
- In an early Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog issue, Sonic chows down on one too many chili dogs and dreams he's "Sonic the Chili Dog", his fellow Freedom Fighters are condiments and Robotnik was a hamburger. When he comes to, he vows not to eat any more chili dogs... which he breaks five seconds later.
- The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers had a story where the trio breaks into a prison to free a friend. There's lots of high-body-count mayhem, and when Fat Freddy gets swarmed and beaten by hundreds of police, we see he's dreaming and his two friends are angrily swatting him with a rolled-up newspaper for eating all two dozen hashish-laced cookies they'd baked for a party. Then, in a much much later story, the wake-up scene is repeated, implying everything that happened in that 12-year span was him dreaming!
- One issue of the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, done by guest artist Matt Howarth, features all the Turtles and Splinter having odd dreams but only Donatello's count as an Acid Reflux Nightmare. After eating an entire bag of chocolate chip cheese cookies, he falls asleep and dream he and his brothers and captured by the Feds and are subjected to nefarious tests and tortures. Meanwhile, a government file regarding them is stolen and sold to a Hollywood director, who exploits it for his own gain via cartoons and toys (A not so subtle Take That! to the original cartoonnote ). Eventually, the Turtles become prisoners of their own fame and lay around watching TV all day getting lazy and fat. Don then wakes up screaming "Teenage Couch Potato Turtles!"
- Jokingly referenced in Cerebus the Aardvark rather than used. In Guys, Cerebus has an alcohol-induced nightmare involving Roaring Rick Veitch and his Rare-Bit Fiends. This is a parody of Veitch's actual comic/dream journal Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends, which was based off Winsor McCay's comic strip Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, whose title referenced the notion that eating too much Welsh rarebit would cause nightmares.
- One issue of the Roger Rabbit comic book had some bad rhubarb pie causing Roger to dream of a Bad Future where he failed to renew his contract with Maroon Cartoons. Among other things that had gone wrong, Jessica had gone to seed after having to get a second job as a soda jerk, a lot of his Toon friends were struggling to find work, and Roger himself was stuck as the sidekick to an obnoxious kids' show host.
- Garfield has these periodically. In this strip, for example, he dreams about himself and Odie washing up on a "Far Side" Island after he eats jalapeno poppers before bed. One Sunday strip has an odd Inversion (the dream gives him heartburn) where he dreams he gets the world's largest cookie, then the largest box of sardines, largest loaf of garlic bread, and largest bowl of five-alarm chili; he wakes up, and needs the world's largest antacid pill.
- Beetle Bailey:
- In one strip, Sarge is dreaming about eating a bowl of things that look like Beetle's face smiling at him. He wakes up and swears to never put baby peppercorns on his pizza again.
- In another Sunday strip, Sarge falls asleep after watching football all day, and dreams he's a star quarterback at the Soup Bowl, paid with food by his team, able to throw off the opposition by burping, rewarded with a chocolate football when his team leads at the half (one with almonds when they win the game) and in contention for the world record for hot dog eating. He wakes up, and says "I have that same dream every time I fall asleep with my hand in the popcorn..."
- Winsor McCay's Dream of the Rarebit Fiend was an entire newspaper strip about nothing but Acid Reflux Nightmares. Rarebit, (or rabbit) incidentally, is spicy cheese sauce spread on toast; there's a folkloric link between eating cheese before going to bed and nightmares.
- The strip was adapted into possibly the first Live-Action Adaptation ever, 1906 film Dream of a Rarebit Fiend.
- McCay's strip would later be the inspiration for Rick Veitch's comic book/dream journal Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends, which in turn was parodied in Cerebus the Aardvark.
- The Little Nemo strips would also sometimes end with Nemo's mother attributing his bad dreams to eating before bed.
- FoxTrot: Happens occasionally, mostly due to Andy's healthy dishes.
Jason: Mom's making her green pepper, garlic and tofu chili for dinner.
Peter: Ah, the meal of a thousand nightmares.
- This◊ Dogs of C-Kennel strip had Will dream that Kenny is a snake who swallows him in one gulp, before he wakes up saying, "Remind me to never again scarf down ten chili dogs before bed."
- This Peanuts strip from 1965. This one too.
- This Dennis the Menace (US) strip from 2012.
- In the Luann strip seen here, Luann has a dream that involves King Kong, an elf, a school bus, balloons with Quill's face, and herself as Darth Vader; her New Age friend Dez is trying to interpret it, but Bernice simply thinks it's due to eating flaming hot nachos before bed.
- Subverted in the Blondie strip seen here where Dagwood has great dreams after having a pizza with triple anchovies before bed.
- The Wacky Adventures of Pedro shows some rather trippy, sometimes scary nightmares whenever Pedro eats junk food too late at night.
- Discussed in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series when the titular duo talks about Hobbes Dreaming of Things to Come.
- A couple of times in The Look Alike Series by Canadibrit, a particularly noxious pizza is mentioned (so bad, Quinn slaps a Biohazard symbol on the pizza box). In the spin-off and Harry Potter crossover Harry Potter And The Flak Jacket Mafia, this gets amplified when it is revealed that AP ate one with blue (as in ergot-laden) garlic and spent the next little while thinking he was a lemming.
- In the Miraculous Ladybug fic Sleepy Bug, Marinette has a nightmare in which she accidentally goes to school without noticing she's transformed into Ladybug. She attributes this to eating a double anchovy pizza with Chat Noir the night before.
- The MLP Loops:
- Variant in 136.6, where it's not food that causes it - instead, Twilight gets a reminder of why it's a bad idea to watch The Godfather right before bed.
- In 143.5, Rainbow Dash thinks she's in one of these (it's really a prank by Spike) when she sees a werewolfified reflection of herself in the mirror, and promptly swears off eating Manexican food before bed.
- In White Christmas when describing his theory of how the sandwich you eat before sleeping affects your dreams, Bob concludes that liverwurst would make you "dream of liverwurst." Not a pleasant prospect.
- Gone: Sam, after eating canned asparagus.
- Older Than Radio: Scrooge accuses Marley's ghost of being a food-induced nightmare (more of gravy than of grave!) in A Christmas Carol. The story leaves it ambiguous as to whether or not this was actually the case, though Scrooge certainly doesn't think so by the end.
- In Lucy Maud Montgomery's The Story Girl, the aimless child heroes of the narrative decide to record their dreams for a summer, and begin to deliberately eat rich food before going to bed so that they dream as vividly and crazily as possible. As a by-product, none of them sleep well and they're all cranky and irritable when awake (except for the Big Eater of the group.) When the appointed loser of the group accidentally poisons herself, (she lives) the children's doctor bans them from doing it.
- Brambleclaw of Warrior Cats thinks he had one in the first book of The New Prophecy. In reality...
- In one story by Ephraim Kishon. Which leads to a row with his wife, and the next time he dreams of Freud who tells him not to eat heavy food before sleeping. Too late!
- Tarzan experiences one after eating some bad meat in the short story "The Nightmare" in Jungle Tales of Tarzan.
- Gone with the Wind: On the last night of her New Orleans honeymoon, Scarlett indulges in the rich for, only to awaken from the nightmare that has been plaguing her on and off for several years.
- A post-2002 Halloween episode of The Basil Brush Show involves Basil eating cheese before going to bed. He dismisses warnings about nightmares as an old wives' tale, only to dream that the human characters are turning into vampires and trying to get him.
- A Thanksgiving episode of The Bernie Mac Show has Bernie getting these after eating undercooked turkey.
- An episode of The Big Bang Theory ended with Leonard waking up from a dream about Sheldon reproducing (by prokaryotic fission!) and deciding "That's it, no more Thai food."
- Which was also a Brick Joke referring to the events previously in the episode where Howard said he thought Sheldon would reproduce by eating so much Thai food (one of their frequent takeout choices) that he would split into two.
- An episode of The Cosby Show features Cliff having a hoagie-induced nightmare courtesy of Jim Henson.
- Another, using the same setup, ended with Cliff giving birth to a 7-foot-long hoagie and a bottle of soda.
- Dad's Army had an episode where Captain Mainwaring has a dream that he is Napoleon after Waterloo and Sergent Wilson is the Duke of Wellington, among others.
- One episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. involved both Gomer and the sergeant suffering this after eating Welsh rabbit. While the nature of the nightmare is a fairly tame example - Gomer and the sergeant exchange personalities - what drives it Up to Eleven is the fact that they wind up sleepwalking and acting it out for real.
- On Hannah Montana, some "Loco Hot Cocoa" causes Miley to have a nightmare which eventually turns into a Dead Person Conversation with her mother.
- A few episodes later Miley sneaking Robbie Ray's pork rinds leads to an All Just a Dream episode involving Lilly having a crush on Jackson.
- Home Improvement used this several times with Tim and Polish food.
- In one episode of I Love Lucy, Lucy compares her friend Carolyn's modern Chinese furniture to "a bad dream you'd have after eating too much Chinese food."
- In one episode of Mad About You, eating ostrich meat leads to a bizarre Laugh In dream.
- It's implied after the fact that this was behind most of Newhart. After Bob Hartley wakes up and explains his bizarre dream to Emily, she tells him, "That settles it. No more Japanese food before you go to bed."
- The Odd Couple crossed this over with Yet Another Christmas Carol, with Oscar, grouchy about Christmas, gets an Opinion-Changing Dream after refusing to participate in Felix's version of "A Christmas Carol."
- Speaking of Henson, a Sesame Street sketch had Cookie Monster sleeping over with Ernie and having a nightmare about singing cookies.
- During Season 2 of the The Sopranos, Tony eats some bad shellfish and has an extremely long dream sequence where he finally admits to himself that his friend Big Pussy (in the form of a talking fish) has become a federal informant. When he wakes up, he acts on this information and murders Pussy.
- Storage Wars New York has "The Walking Bid," where Candy had tuna fish before bedtime, and she dreams the Zombie Apocalypse had affected John Luke and the other buyers.
- If you can believe the DVD extras, all of Breaking Bad was this to the Bumbling Dad of Malcolm in the Middle.
- In the Power Rangers Dino Thunder episode "In Your Dreams", the Monster of the Week comes after the Rangers in their dreams. Tommy blames his nightmare on having calamari for dinner before learning it's happening to the others.
- Mr. Bean has a nightmare about bad oysters after eating bad oysters at a hotel buffet, and he dreams that a guy he'd been competing with makes him eat them.
- An episode of The Zack Files had the resident Agent Scully attribute the strange goings on of said episode to a bad pizza dream.
- The entire premise of the Nintendo DS game Garfield's Nightmare is that Garfield chowed down on way too much food before bed (actually normal for Garfield to overeat), and in his dream, he has an adventure across multiple dream worlds. Eventually, he escapes the nightmare world and comes up with a moral. The food theme continues throughout the nightmare.
- In Time Splitters 2, one of the arcade league missions is that a member of the Chicago Mafia who severed the hands of his victims ate too much cheese and dreamt that the severed hands came to life (With bodies made of matchsticks)and tried to kill him.
- In the 2011 release of You Don't Know Jack, the "Nocturnal Admissions" questions would have Cookie tell the player about some crazy dream he had from eating before bed, which always seems to involve him, his cats and his mother acting out the plot of whatever movie he'd been watching earlier that night, which the player would have to guess.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, the 2006 Crimbo sidequest starts with you eating undercooked-potato-flavored chocolate and having weird dreams based around Yet Another Christmas Carol.
- In Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, Shantae attributes a bizarre prophetic dream to having eaten an entire tub of cookie-dough ice-cream before bed.
- Hornet's Nest:
The world begins to blur as the smell becomes stronger, you suddenly realize that it's all been a dream and the orc attacking your village was nothing more than a result of some late night tacos.
- In College Roomies from Hell!!!, Mike wakes up one morning with a tentacle. He insists violently that it is really just a pizza-induced dream. Unfortunately for him...
- The first Narbonic "Dave In Slumberland" strip ends with Dave waking at his desk and blaming the rarebit he had for lunch (since it's a parody of McCay.)
- Anime News Nina has one strip where the background has been replaced with a trippy purple pattern and characters are clothed in Unmoving Plaid. Kevin attributes this to Nina binging on expired grocery store sushi and Gankutsuou.
- In The Order of the Stick, Bugbear Oona assigns wildest dreams of seeing monsters to eating remorhaz kebab too close to bed. (Though being a beastmistress, she admires monsters and thus doesn't consider these bad dreams.)
- Played with in Everyman HYBRID. Part of Evan's dream experiment involves eating various foods before bed. Pizza and hot wings don't do much, as he just dreams about a picnic with his grandmother. Grilled chicken and Doritos causes him to not remember his dreams. A healthy meal causes him to dream of roller coasters. Chicken salad, water, and fruit cause him to dream of a town of children, all of whom disappear. He then dreams he's in the woods, where he hears children screaming. He also finds hanging bags full of blood. Of course, the dream comes true a few days later, suggesting Slender Man was at work...
- Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "weird dream", Strong Bad claimed he had a dream involving the United States in a pair of white cotton briefs after having had nothing to eat all day but thirteen pudding pops.
- This happens to Mackenzie after eating kimchi in Episode 45 of The Most Popular Girls in School.
- Gordon Shumway's first reaction after the trippy intro to his Animated Adaptation turned out to be All Just a Dream is "no more tabby pot pie before bed!"
- In Garfield and Friends, Jon tells this to Garfield, who has a dream where he keeps eating and growing bigger. Doesn't seem bad to Garfield, until at the end an alien abducts him and reveals that a "hunger ray" was used on him to fatten Garfield up for "alien thanksgiving". He wakes up and refuses to eat a plate of lasagna. Then eats it anyway.
- Similarly, in the children's book "Garfield's Cat Nap", Garfield eats a slice of pizza as a midnight snack to indulge himself after being given only a salad for dinner. He then has a dream about an unpleasant future where all the TV sets play only exercise shows and the food comes in pill form. Kind of a subversion of the above example, in that when Garfield wakes up, he's thankful for all the normal food he can eat.
- In an episode of Hey Arnold!, Helga ends up sleepwalking after eating pork rinds before bed. Twice she finds herself waking up at Arnold's house, the third time she ends up in Arnold's shower, and the fourth time she almost confesses her love for him. For Helga, that's definitely a nightmare!
- In The Angry Beavers episode "Food of the Clods," Norbert's mix of spicy foods and cheesy fictional B Movies causes him to become a violent sleepwalker who acts out those movies. After Norb becomes a rampaging pseudo-Valkyrie after watching Viking Women from Venus, Daggett decides to fight fire with fire... except Dag accidentally becomes a flamboyant Latin American dancer after watching a commercial for a "weight loss through limbo dancing" program.
- The Peanuts special What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown was based on this trope. Too much pizza before bedtime, combined with Charlie Brown accusing him of being "overly civilized", causes Snoopy to dream of living the hard life of a Yukon sled dog.
- The Simpsons:
- Used as a Framing Device in the second "Treehouse of Horror" episode.
- Also in the episode where Homer eats Police Chief Wiggum's "Guatemalan insanity pepper" chili. A bit hazy on the borderline between "nightmare" and "hallucination", but Homer does wake up at the end of his trippy journey through his subconscious (featuring Johnny Cash as the voice of his spirit advisor).
- Ed, Edd n Eddy:
Jonny: I think I'm reliving that expired tofu, Plank.
- After Jonny 2x4 wakes up in the Dream Within a Dream ending of the episode "Rock-A-Bye Ed", he decides "No more free-range soybeans before bed."
- "A Glass of Warm Ed" featured Ed sleepwalking hilarious distances through the neighborhood. While it is uncertain if eating before bed caused this, as he sleepwalks Ed eats virtually everything in his path, from regular foods to Edd's cactus to Jimmy (who is thrown up later).
- While it didn't really happen while he was asleep, in the Halloween special "Ed Edd N Eddys Boo Haw Haw", due to a combination of junk food and too many horror movies, Ed's already loose grip on reality becomes even more unhinged, resulting in him mistaking every kid in the neighborhood for monsters and viciously attacking them.
- It then became a real nightmare for Edd and Eddy, who, for some reason, were the target of children's payback.
- Also referenced in "Dueling Eds", which opens with a kung fu school scam, where Eddy uses a mirror trick to make it look like he's created copies of himself. Of course, Jonny was awake at the time, but still.
- In the episode "Only A Dream" from Justice League, Flash initially assumes he's having one of these when he's trapped in a dream by supervillain Dr. Destiny:
Flash (to Destiny): See you next time I have too many jalapenos.
- In Justice League Unlimited, we have this line when Supergirl is having weird dreams possibly linked to Cadmus:
Green Arrow: This whole trip might just prove the kid shouldn't eat nachos before bed.The Question: Peanut butter sandwiches.Supergirl: How did- what, do you go through my trash?
- Arthur has one after he eats too much candy and cake and nods off while listening to his sister's fairy tales.
- An earlier episode reveals that eating hassenpfeffer ice cream gives Muffy these.
- In another episode, Buster says that if he eats pepperoni before bed, he dreams that penguins are after him.
- One Gumby cartoon has Father Time accidentally causing various time-related problems for the world because he ate too many sweets before bed.
- The Weekenders had two examples where Tino would have a dream that ended with Martin Van Buren on a toy train shouting "Down with the cotton gin! Down with the cotton gin!"
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Billy feeds himself, Grim and Mandy rotted pizza. Hilarity Ensues in their respective dreams.
- It was sort of subverted with Mandy's dream, a parody of the A Night on Bald Mountain sequence from Fantasia, as she was in place of Chernabog. It probably would have been a nightmare for anyone but Mandy. (When she wakes up, she even eats the last piece of the pizza.)
- A third example, though not happening in a nightmare, involves Billy and Grim turning into each other after they switch roles for the day. When Mandy sees the results, she just goes "I need to stop drinking steak sauce..." and walks off.
- At the end of the Family Guy episode "Love Thy Trophy," after overindulging on pancakes, Stewie has a Trainspotting-esque nightmare where he sees himself crawling on the ceiling of his room.
- Yellow Submarine - Frankenstein's monster rises from a lab table, gulps down some serum in a test tube, starts to quake, then, BOOM - turns into John Lennon.
John: Hey Ringo, I just had the strangest dream.
Ringo: I warned you about eating on an empty stomach.
- Tails occasionally has problems with these in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. It's weaponized in "Boogey-Mania"- after Robotnik gets ahold of a dreams-to-reality machine that brings his nightmarish boogeyman to the real world, Sonic gets Tails to eat loads of junk food before using the machine to create a Junk Food nightmare monster to combat it.
- In Street Sharks, when the brothers are Strapped to an Operating Table and about to be gene-slammed, the one hopes briefly that this is all a bad dream caused by a burrito he ate last night.
- Stōked: In "The Reefinator", Broseph gets food poisoning which causes him to have a Yet Another Christmas Carol dream involving sandwiches.
- In The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol , Grouchy tells the Smurf of Christmas Past that she's a figment of his indigestion.
- In The Real Ghostbusters episode "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Ghost?", the ghost of Olivia Stewart's uncle Horace mentions that rarebit always gives him the strangest dreams.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode "Nightmare in the Lair" had the Turtles end up in Nightmare Land, where they faced monsters from nightmares Michelangelo got from watching horror movies. When asked what movie a giant spider monster came from, Michelangelo answers that it's actually from a nightmare he got from eating bad pizza.
- Apples are said by some people to have an effect similar to that of Welsh rarebit if eaten too close to bedtime.
- A common story is that eating cheese close to going to bed will give a person nightmares.
- It's commonly claimed that Salvador Dalí ate Camembert cheese before sleeping to intentionally invoke this effect, to inspire future paintings.
- An Irish Young Scientist Exhibition stand once concluded that eating cheese before bed did cause nightmares, even though the students behind the stand were skeptical of the saying from the outset.
- As discussed on QI, cheese purportedly gives one good dreams, or at least a good night's sleep, due to its concentration of milk's tryptophan content. Tryptophan is the amino acid that is associated with the myth of causing sleepiness after Thanksgiving dinner, as it's a major component of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter of the year. In the interest of full disclosure, the study in which this was discovered was sponsored by the British Cheese Board.
- In the Middle Ages, rye bread was often contaminated with the ergot fungus. Eating this before going to sleep is similar to going to sleep after taking LSDnote and can cause some fairly horrific nightmares.
- Really, eating ergot-contaminated bread at any time is going to mess you up.
- The Salem Witch Trials were thought to have been brought on in part by grain contaminated by ergot.
- If you actually suffer from acid reflux and get it while you're sleeping (which is pretty much inevitable), you may have strange dreams based on the pain and nausea before finally waking up.
- Even if you have bad or strange dreams no more often than usual, sleeping poorly thanks to indigestion could make you more likely to remember them.