In many Reality Shows, the contestants will at one point have to eat something absolutely disgusting. This will usually be bugs (sometimes living bugs) or even worse. This is commonly cited by the Moral Guardians as evidence that Reality TV is pure trash ("We're eating worms for money!" a character complained in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). Occasionally survival-type shows will attempt to vaguely justify it as the equivalent of searching for food and getting whatever is necessary, but in those cases contestants might be doing that anyway and never need to resort to eating or even find anything as gross as what the show forces them to eat. Another common justification is that the food is actually Foreign Queasine; something that the locals do, in fact, eat (although not usually in anywhere near the same quantities as the contestants have to.)
Contrast Reduced to Ratburgers, in which it's typically the eater's survival rather than bank account that's at stake. Not related to If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!. Presumably, this is where these shows would draw the line. We hope.
Examples:Game and Reality Programs
- Survivor had a gross food challenge Once a Season in its first few years. They stopped doing it after the Samoa season (2009), save for occasional use as a Call-Back in seasons with returning contestants.
- Fear Factor, the Trope Codifier. Buffalo testicles and pig rectums were bad enough, but the Championship episode was where it arguably got abusive (maggoty cheese). In the new series, one stunt in particular — the chugging of donkey semen and urine — was so nasty that NBC refused to air it.
- El gran juego de la oca was doing this in Spain long before Americans got a hold of it; various challenges included contestants having to eat the "eyeballs" and "brains" from characters dressed as zombies, being strapped to a torture chair and being force-fed hot peppers for getting questions wrong, and in the second season being forced to eat what would become typical Fear Factor fare at the "Chinese Restaurant" to avoid losing all their money.
- Laura en América: In one episode of this famous and ridiculous Peruvian Point-and-Laugh Show, someone was forced to eat a rocoto for $20, among other humiliations. The name of the episode was Haría cualquier cosa por dinero ("I would do anything for the money").
- I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!: Bush tucker trials have included kangaroo penis, live crickets, cockroach smoothie... and anything else gross the producers can think of.
- Discovery/History Channel
- Les Stroud of Survivorman does this, as he has a minimum amount of food with him.
- Ditto with Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild, though in this case it usually has more to do with ratings than necessity, since he doesn't bother to cook his finds even when he can.
- Of course, the premise of Man vs. Wild precludes stopping to cook food: Bear focuses on escaping the wilderness. Survivorman, on the other hand, focuses on surviving the wilderness, so Les has time to build a fire and cook any food he's found, as he tends to stay in one location longer than Bear. Les also tends to try and get fish or birds or fruit, in preference to creepy-crawlies.
- Alaska Experiment contestants survive and travel in Alaska. With little food, they make the most of and prey they hunt, usually having organ stew.
- Dual Survival a military survivalist and a survival minimalist show how to reach civilization when stranded somewhere. The minimalist finds local plants and bugs, which the military survivalist absolutely detests.
- Solitary uses this trope in a different way. Instead of eating disgusting food, the contestants eat normal food as a challenge. The catch is, they have to keep shoveling it down until it comes up.
- Hell's Kitchen has made the losing team on various challenges (usually blind taste tests or identifying cuts of meat) forced to eat such offal as beef tongue, brains, intestines, etc. Expect a Vomit Chain Reaction to happen. Additionally, contestants that have cooked something poorly but refused to own up to it have sometimes been sent out into the dining room to eat their mistakes.
Dave: You're not supposed to drink duck.
- The Joe Schmo Show had exactly one real contestant; all the others were actors. The real contestant had been promised before the show there would be no challenges of this type, and nearly walks off the show when they spring one on him. This was entirely intentional— they wanted him to threaten to walk off so that they could set up a plot where he used his skills of having studying law in college to negotiate with a fake network executive.
- Even Rupauls Drag Race got in on the act. The Season 2 "country-fried" episode had a mini-challenge called "Chicken or What?", where the queens had to eat a mystery fried food blindfolded and say if it was chicken or "what." When it came down to a three-way tie, the winner was the one who could finish a basket of various fried goods - chicken, rabbit, alligator, and cow brains.
- In one episode of MythBusters, testing whether you literally "got cold feet" when you were scared meant the Build Team had to confront their phobias. Poor Kari (a vegetarian who got squeamish around meat) had to choose two things to eat from a selection of items the guys prepared specifically to gross her out. She ended up eating the live bugs.
Kari (very distressed): Why is it that I am a grown woman and boys are still trying to make me eat bugs?
- Sometimes invoked with Zonks on the current version of Let's Make a Deal, which has had mayonaise-flavored mouthwash and "bug candy" come up as joke prizes. In both cases, host Wayne Brady was coaxed into giving them a taste; of the two, he had a relatively positive response to the bug candy.
- The Late Late Show with James Corden has "Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts", where the guest has to choose between eating something disgusting and answering an embarrassing question.
Live-Action TV (non-reality)
- During a discussion of this trope on The Ricky Gervais Show, producer Karl Pilkington commented that eating a kangaroo penis in the morning would be too difficult. His clarification, "I could eat a knob at night," became an internet meme, spawning dance remixes, t-shirts, public graffiti, and a story in the New York Times.
- Stargate Atlantis, Dr. Keller is offered a local (dead) bug to eat by Teyla. She initially refuses, commenting "This was my least favorite part of Survivor" and "Eating gross food, sorry, but that's where I draw the line". She eventually eats it, but only because they were trapped on an alien planet with no escape and no food.
- On Lost, Jin offers Hurley sea urchin, and is offended when Hurley refuses. Later, Hurley eats (and throws up) sea urchin in order to apologize.
- Parodied on Chappelle's Show, where homeless crackhead Tyrone Biggums goes on Fear Factor and wins handily due to his normal living conditions being far more gruelling than anything the show can throw at him. The final challenge is to eat elk penis topped with diced pig bladder and "a light cream testicle sauce", with horse hooves for dessert. While his opponent is too grossed out and drops out of the challenge, Tyrone is just happy to have a meal. While eating it, he jokes, "this is not the first time I've tasted penis", and implies that he frequently gives blowjobs in exchange for crack.
- On Top Gear's American South special, the presenters were told to spend the night camping, and that dinner would be whatever they could find by the side of the road. Jeremy Clarkson (somehow) found and brought back an entire dead cownote . James May promptly announced he'd decided to become a vegetarian.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia reveals that Dee once made a kid with a crush on her eat a horse turd in exchange for a kiss. He did... and then she refused the kiss him because he'd just eaten shit.
- Happens to Ryan Styles occasionally on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. During "Helping Hands", Colin forces Ryan to eat some unappetising things. Fairly mild example for this page, but enough to make the audience squirm.
- In one The Kids in the Hall sketch, two guys in a bus start singing the campfire song "Think I'll Go Eat Worms". Everyone else in the bus thinks they're just starting a singalong to pass the time... until they pull out a large plastic bag full of live worms. The guys are rather confused about why everyone then freaked out and threw them off the bus.
- In Modern Family, Alex dares Luke to eat sugar that was spilled on the floor for a dollar. Phil tells Luke not to do it... for so little money.
- Just Roll With It: With the show having the audience picking things for the actors to do, this sometimes gets used. Examples include Blair making sandwiches for someone else to eat, snail smoothies, Rachael and Byron having to feed each other blindfolded, donuts with disgusting fillings, etc.
- In a series of Calvin and Hobbes strips, Calvin offers to eat five worms in front of Susie for a quarter. His mother shows up, and drags him away; he complains, then, when they're out of hearing distance, thanks her.
- In the Laurel and Hardy movie Way Out West, as they go to retrieve a deed from swindlers, Stanley vows if they fail he'll eat Ollie's hat. They fail. Ollie makes him keep his promise - at first Stanley faces his task with whimpering distaste, but seems blankly contented by his third bite.
- The second task of 13 Sins involves eating a fly that has just been killed.
- The children's book How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. Kid bets he can eat fifteen earthworms in fifteen days to win some cash; Hilarity Ensues.
- In the schlock-horror novel Creepers, an undercover cop has to eat a roasted rat in order to be accepted as one of them by some paranoid homeless drifters.
- Rodney Carrington relates to how he and his friends started playing card games where the loser would have to eat pet food, and eventually live insects. He maintains that there's no better form of entertainment than watching your buddies throw up.
- Breath of Fire II has a scenario where the local prince and his imposter are pit in a cooking contest to determine who the real prince is. Because one of the recipes the real prince makes uses an extra-rare and especially sumptuous ingredient, the royal chefs have a hard time maintaining the facade of supporting the imposter (to be fair, they were blackmailed into it). The princess throws a hissy fit amidst the stalemate and orders the party to eat it up. Oh, did I mention that everyone who wasn't at the party at the time is a frog? The pointman (or pointgirl) will be wishing for a paper bag soon enough.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim allows you to "sample" alchemical ingredients. Said ingredients can range from a bee to a giant's toe.
- Hot Ones has this with Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce. Guests are given a succession of wings to eat, dabbed with increasingly fiery sauces, and have to suffer the heat while answering the hosts' questions.
- One episode of 80's Dan revolved around Dan unearthing a McDonald's MCDLT he had buried in a time capsule 20 years ago, which had rotted away into an ugly green mush note save for the bun. What makes it hilarious is that no one is making Dan eat it at all(in fact, the other characters were emphatically trying to warn him not to); Dan simply refuses to accept that there's anything wrong with it, to the point that when he takes a bite, he actually tries going for another one before finally giving in to run off and puke it back up.
- Two Analog Control Showdowns revolved around the challenge's loser consuming some ghastly thing. MJTR lost both matches, describing the "dollar store ribeye" as So Okay, It's Average and a shot glass of apple cider vinegar as "foul".
- When a guest episode of Chuckle Sandwich is filmed in person, there's a good chance the hosts will make the guest drink some thick water. Judging from their reactions, it's pretty disgusting.
- "Put it in your Mouth" is a web series hosted by SMOSH where Noah, the resident Picky Eater, and his occasional guest stars are given a random selection of mostly disgusting foodstuffs to eat.
- There is a video out there where purely for scientific interest, two willing volunteers prepare and consume a twelve-year-old Pot Noodle found in the forgotten dark depths of a food cupboard. What worried them was that while it looked grey and unappetizing, it still tasted broadly as if it were still fresh. Preservatives are there for a purpose, it seems...
- An episode Mexican web animation Vete a la Versh had the Idiot Hero main character Darkar finding a magic lamp. The first wish he asked was that the genie make his roommate (a humanoid made out of semen) explode. The second is that he repair his bathroom. The third is that he gets a new remote control because he lost the other. When the genie starts complaining about his inane wishing Darkar changes his wish to "I wish that you eat that thing" pointing at the exploded roommate. The genie gives him the remote.
- HowToBasic has the video How To Make a Krabby Patty, which is done in a pretty standard way... for him (that is, adding stuff like chocolate cake, pickles and a SpongeBob SquarePants DVD on the thing). However, at the end there's an invitation to see a video in which user maxmoefoe has to try and eat the culinary abomination. Warning: it results in a Vomit Indiscretion Shot
- Stuart Ashen is often given horrifically out-of-date food (so far ranging from 12 to 180 years old) to examine. He usually tries everything that he is given, albeit in very small amounts so that he doesn't die. He has also tried several Foreign Queasine foodstuffs such as a century egg and surströmming.
- Smosh Pit: "Eat It or Yeet it!" Where something that may or may not be disgusting is presented and everyone has to decide if they'll ring the bell and eat it (and try not to throw up afterwards). Anyone who hasn't eaten something by the end gets stuck with The Big Bite, which will either be the best or the worst item.
- Adventure Time: In "Card Wars", when Finn and Jake play the eponymous game, Jake whips up a disgusting "dweeb drink" (a mix of cola, coffee grounds, beetle butter, grape jelly, kimchi, and "ham chunk juice") that the loser has to drink.
- In one episode of Danny Phantom, Danny Fenton was forced to eat Dash's underwear for losing a contest. It had holes, smelled bad, and looked very dirty. It was bad enough that Danny looked sick. Wouldn't we all be sick anyways?
- Jackie Chan Adventures. The Chan team entered a Survivor-style contest and one of the tests was to eat a bowl full of bugs.
- Total Drama:
- Most seasons have an eating challenge where the contestants must consume gross foods or nonfoods. The show being a satire/parody of reality shows, this is virtually a requirement.
- One of the first season's staple jokes was to play up Chef Hatchet's Lethal Chef traits. After all, it was a summer camp setting, and fictional summer camps always have nothing but disgusting slop to eat. He's actually a pretty good cook when he's making food for the staff.
- The first season's dare challenge has several instances of the players having to eat gross things, or normal foods under gross conditions, e.g. drinking powdered fruit punch mix from a toilet bowl.
Chris: Is there nothing these freaks won't do?
- Parodied on The Fairly Oddparents, when Timmy goes up against a race of aliens called the Yugopotamians. The aliens have polar opposite values and tastes of humans, and to get to speak to the king, Timmy must eat a piece of the foulest substance known to Yugopotamians: chocolate. The entire audience promptly passes out in horror.
Yugopotamian Queen: I don't get it! He's not bleeding OR burning!!
- During the TV movie "Win, Lose, or Kaboom!" from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, this is one of the challenges on the intergalactic game show they're on, where contestants spin a wheel to see what they have to eat. Carl gets an Alien Lunch and finds it delicious. An alien contestant also gets an Alien Lunch... as in he was served banana cream pie from Earth. It made his head explode.
- In The Movie for Teen Titans, Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, an angry Japanese sushi chef tries to chase Cyborg away from his "all you can eat" buffet by offering him some of the grossest foods he can imagine, including an old shoe stuffed full of wasabi. Fortunately, circumstances intervened before the chef got angry enough to serve fugu.
- Parodied in The Simpsons, where the Simpsons run into the losing team from a Survivor-style reality show who were left on the island after one of their members simply couldn't eat any more kangaroo testicles. Ironically, now that they've been Reduced to Ratburgers and scrounging for survival for real, he suddenly can't get enough of them.
- Happens to Courage the Cowardly Dog in one episode when he's drawn into a Who Can Eat The Most Disgusting Thing?" contest with the Monster of the Week. Only problem? Said monster is a giant insect and obviously used to disgusting fare. The things they eat are, in order; Broccoli, old, rancid broccoli, and old rancid broccoli the insect had between his toes for a week. Courage fails the third one, and the insect eats his portion as well.
- On Tiny Toon Adventures, the boys gather at the cafeteria to play "Will Dizzy Eat It?" Being an Extreme Omnivore, the answer is always yes.
- On one episode of King of the Hill, Dale criticizes Bill for being in a hot dog eating contest. Dale then confesses that as a kid he would eat things for money because he felt it made him popular. He stopped when he realized that people were just laughing at him.
- Cartoon Network's Staylongers, a interstitial Survivor parody from 2000, had a few shorts based around this:
- The last emperor of China wrote in his autobiography that he once forced one of his eunuchs to eat a piece of dirt.
- Goldfish-swallowing as a fraternity initiation or dare is practically a trope of its own.
- And that would be a very tame initiation stunt. Ask Dartmouth alumnae about the "vomlet".
- Peter Beck, the CEO of commercial rocket enterprise Rocket Lab (of Electron rocket fame) has said frequently that he would eat his hat if his company ever did certain things; such as build a rocket bigger than their Electron smallsat-class rocket, or make plans to launch humans. When he announced a medium-class rocket called Neutron, he put pieces of a Rocket Lab hat into a blender, and proceeded to eat it.
Peter Beck: In avoidance of all doubt, this hat is not tasty.
- The premise of all B. Dylan Hollis's TikTok shorts are incredulously cooking and eating a Poverty Food recipie from the Great Depression, or a "We have cheap refridgerators now" dish from the '50s. These can be either a hit (in which case, we get a big, happily-surprised grin), or a miss, in which case, we get some amusing commentary on how vile it is (for example, that a corn syrup and peanut pie tastes "like crunchy diesel.")