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Fire-Breathing Diner

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"It's like a hell in my mouth and everyone's been damned!"
Minmax, Goblins

Unaffected by Spice? Not these guys.

Excessively spicy food invariably results in a (usually metaphorical) blast of flame from the mouth of the diner, often after they have quickly turned red from feet to top of head (in the manner of a rising thermometer, sometimes with a distinctive rising "boooOOOP!" or whistling kettle sound effect). Sometimes it may be accompanied by a factory-like steam whistle or a fire alarm sound.

A common subversion is if one character in a cartoon tries to pull this off on another as a joke or part of an Escalating War. The intended victim will always have an insanely high resistance, while the perpetrator, trying it himself in disbelief, will feel the full force of the trope from the tiniest bite.

Video games often weaponize this effect, having a type of Powerup Food that lets the Player Character breathe fire.


While Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce is the most common cause, this can also be the result of consuming a Gargle Blaster, or anything cooked by a Lethal Chef. See also Oven Logic and I Ate WHAT?!.

In Real Life, capsaicin (the chemical found in 'hot' foods) works by directly stimulating the nerves responsible for detecting heat. This fools the brain into thinking the affected area is being burned and causes heat-related effects such as a flushed face and sweating. However, no spice can actually produce real heat, let alone fire - although there are certainly some foods that can make you feel like your mouth is on fire.

While foods containing menthol have the opposite effect, stimulating cold receptors, inversions of this trope involving freezing due to excessive mint consumption are rare outside of ads for breath mints. This is likely due to the fact that minty foods rarely achieve the levels of discomfort associated with capsaicin, unless you drink ice water while chewing particularly potent gum.


The fourth hottest pepper in the world is the Naga Viper pepper, coming in at a mouth-scorching, sweat-inducing 1,382,118 Scoville Heat Units (for comparison, the Jalapeño ranks 2,500-8,000). It has been trounced in March 2011 by the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chili, which clocks in at 1,463,700 SHU; in February 2012 by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, which measures 2,009,231 SHU; and in 2018 by the Carolina Reaper, which is rated at 2.2 million SHU. Hot sauces made from any "super-hot" peppers (or even all of them) have to be stored in glass, because they all corrode plastic like (*click!*) that.

Not to be confused with the Unsatisfiable Customer, for whom the fire breathing is verbal, rather than metaphorical or literal.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Dairy Queen has had at least three commercials that utilize the trope.
  • A very similar series of commercials for Taco Bell's Volcano Taco used the same trope, namely to determine who stole and ate said Volcano Taco.
  • Red Robin only has smoke in this case, but hey where there's smoke...
  • A series of Australian commercials for KFC during the 90s used this trope. Unusually the customers didn't seem to be any discomfort while gaining the ability to breath fire. This in the original, and a later one which doubles as a Dumb Blonde joke.
  • A Wendy's commercial features test subjects taste-testing another restaurant's attempt at chicken strips. One man tries their sauce, which results in him yelling and breathing out fire.
  • The commercial for M&M's' 75th anniversary flavors has Yellow consuming their appropriate ingredients. For Honey Nut he eats a jar of honey and gets attacked by bees. For Coffee Nut he drinks several cups of coffee and gets jittery. For Chili Nut he crams his mouth with red peppers, setting it on fire.
  • The Flaming Hot Cheetos commercials have this happen, typically with Chester Cheetah.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Canimals episode "Chili Can Carnage", Oz eats some chili peppers from a Mexican restaurant and promptly breathes fire onto a kebab, cooking it. She utilizes this to her advantage by forcing Koby the turtle, who has come with her, to eat the peppers and breathe the resulting fire onto some more kebabs; Koby does not take this treatment very kindly.
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 2 episode 4, Big M. eats a chili lollipop and blows a flame out of his mouth from it.
  • Motu Patlu: In "Baby Dinosaur", Patlu makes a plate of samosas laced with chili to keep Motu from cooking the dinosaur egg. Motu eats one of the samosas and breathes fire as a result of its spiciness.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Marching to the New Wonderland episode 3, Weslie and Paddi eat some of the Spider of Justice's food, which is so spicy that it causes them to breath a big flame out of the window of the spider's house.
  • In Pleasant Goat Fun Class; Travel Around the World episode 3, it's a main plot point that someone is force-feeding people chili peppers all around Mexico, causing them to breathe fire.
  • Simple Samosa:
    • In the episode "Chhote Rajaji", a strange spiciness epidemic spreads around Chatpata Nagar, and most of the affected townspeople breathe flames out of their mouths. The culprits of the epidemic, fittingly enough, are a pair of chili peppers who presumably meant no harm.
    • In the episode "Sollid Survival", Sollid blows a kiss to a fan after rubbing the belly of a wild chili pepper. The pepper's skin is spicy enough that it causes Sollid to run around with small flames coming out of his mouth when he does this.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Lucky Luke: Tortillas for the Daltons sees Lucky Luke as the victim of this trope. The Mexican who talked him into drinking tequila just says: "Refreshing, isn't it?"
  • A long gout of flames is one of the effects of the Hideous Hangover Cure that Asterix accidentally invents in Asterix and the Laurel Wreath.
  • In the Scooby-Doo story "The Faceless Phantom", the gang is at a restaurant where Shaggy and Scooby are having chili. The first spoonfuls set their tongues on fire as they run nilly-willy looking for something to put out the fire. When they stop, Shaggy merely quips "Needs pepper."
  • One The Smurfs short comic had Greedy Smurf complaining he did not have any act to present for an upcoming show, since the one thing he was good at was eating. Jokey Smurf obliged by cooking him an extremely spicy meal and asking Greedy to eat it onstage, before announcing that Greedy's act would be fire smurfing.

    Comic Strips 
  • Foxtrot:
    • Peter Fox spent an entire week having to live down his girlfriend Denise's April Fool's joke- a chocolate rabbit filled with hot sauce, which he of course ate in about two bites before his mouth was set aflame.
    • One strip had Jason cheerfully putting four bottles of hot sauce on his taco so he could breathe fire. He'd been to the dentist, and the painkillers hadn't worn off yet, preventing him from feeling the burn. "Is Novocaine great or what?"
    • Things came to a head when Jason and Peter decided to play "Eat That Taco."
      Peter: I can eat this taco with two squirts of hot sauce.
      Jason: I can eat this taco with three squirts of hot sauce.
      Peter: Four squirts.
      Jason: Five squirts.
      Peter: Six squirts.
      Jason: Eat that taco.
      Paige: Nine squirts...
      Andy: Paige, stay out of this!
  • Garfield:
    • One strip featured Garfield and Jon having a contest to see who can eat the hottest pepper without invoking this trope. Garfield loses after eating a Peruvian Death Pepper, but the flame bursting out of his mouth burns Jon.
      Garfield: You win.
      Jon: Then why am I not happy?
    • In one Garfield Sunday strip Jon accidentally eats some dog food, and when he asks Garfield to bring him something to drink, Garfield obliges by bringing him a bottle of hot sauce. Jon chugs the bottle without looking at it; the next panel shows him clutching his throat, breathing fire, with his eyes wild and hair standing on end.
    • Also happened to Garfield on his fourth birthday, because he swallowed his cake before blowing the candles out!

    Fan Works 
  • In several Harry Potter, fics firewhiskey makes the drinker breathe flames for several seconds after consumption.
  • In Happily Ever After this happens to Fred and George after their first taste of goblin food. Harry plans to use this in a restaurant, having a "Eat a dish of goblin food and your party's meal is free" hook and sets them to replicating the sensation without the actual flames.
  • A Moon and World Apart: In chapter 5, Pinkie offers Sunset a tabasco cupcake. Sunset not only accepts it happily, she's glad to be breathing fire after eating it.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The human Pinkie Pie does this all over Vix-Lei after eating a cupcake with a tabasco sauce filling. She loves it.

  • Discworld:
    • In Hogfather, the wizards are somewhat disappointed that Bilious, the Oh God of Hangovers, doesn't display this as part of the "humorous side effects" of the Hideous Hangover Cure they'd just made for him. Presumably, Bibulous (the God of parties and booze who passes every hangover on to Bilious) got to blow fire everywhere instead.
    • Mustrum Ridicully's Wow Wow sauce is so potent that, in Reaper Man, he uses a bottle of it to cause a magic-resistant slime to explode, taking this trope to its logical conclusion.
  • The SF short story Buck and the Gents from Space features a young boy from the Southwest US serving a group of aliens a meal made primarily of chili peppers. Their reaction is described as being "sort of like the Apache snake dance, except they didn't have no snakes in their mouths. Maybe they would've preferred a snake, at that." He then offers them some of the hired hand's rotgut tequila to wash it down with, prompting much the same reaction.
  • Fire breath inducing black pepper "desserts" are a mentioned treat of Honeydukes in the Hogsmead establishment during Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

    Music Videos 

    Tabletop Games 
  • A magic item available in Forged by Dragon's Fire, an Old World of Darkness supplement, is the "ginger dragon", a small candy most often produced in rural China. They produce real fire.

    Theme Parks 

    Web Animation 
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: In the photo on Arthur's laptop in "Freaking Out" he can be seen in obvious pain with a trail of smoke emitting from his mouth from his spicy... milkshake? A closer look reveals Lewis's prankster sister Cayenne laughing under the table with a bottle of hot sauce in her hand implying she put hot sauce in the milkshake.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Digital Series: In "X Marks the Spot", Pinkie Pie eats a sushi roll with too much wasabi, and breathe green fire before dipping her face in a nearby fountain.
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: Epic Fail eats an entire glob of wasabi. This results in fire shooting out of his mouth with the caption “Mount Vesuvius Eruption: 79 AD”.

    Web Comics 
  • Link from Awkward Zombie likes Super Smash Bros curry so much, he set the group's apartment on fire several times and burnt through his stomach wall.
  • By the Tail: In this comic, Dixie is making chili for Viper's staff. Trixie takes a slurp, and a huge flame bursts forth from her mouth, making her declare the chili too hot. Dixie responds thusly.
    Dixie: Oh, nonsense. The stove ain't even been turned on yet.
  • In the webcomic Freighter Tales, a robot coaxes Mzzkitti into eating a batch of Huevos Rancheros... who plays the trope in true, cartoonish manner.
  • Girl Genius: An understated example when Krosp swipes and eats a sandwich which Gil has booby-trapped with Ghost Pirate Peppers. Only some smoke, and the next page shows Krosp getting blasted in the mouth with a fire extinguisher.
  • Sydney Scoville, the protagonist of Grrl Power, actively searches for this sort of thing, having an extreme love of spicy food. It generally astounds watchers and occasionally turns her breath into something approximating a chemical weapon.
  • Modern MoGal: Parodied in one strip where Chili the Harpy Girl and her boyfriend go visit a restaurant usually visited by the avian folk. All the dishes are super spicy as birds are immune to capsaicin, the compound responsible for the sensation of hotness; Chili's boyfriend, however, is a human.
  • Ozy and Millie:
    • Ozymandias deliberately invokes this trope to impress the matriarch of his extended (draconic) family, and get out of an arranged marriage. He's adopted.
    • In a more recent example, the same character makes use of the trope again, this time as part of an attempt to let his friend to go on a field trip without a permission slip.
    • Another time, we see the aftermath of a meal that was too spicy for a dragon.
  • StupidFox believes that eating hot chili peppers will do this. It doesn't quite work out the way he'd planned it. Stupid Fox is kind of strange that way.
  • The Whiteboard:
    • In one of the Halloween arcs Jinx, already mutated by consumption of Doc's experimental Mountain Dew, drinks some more and snorts fire.
    • Another time Howie's new hot wing recipe made fire spurt out of Doc's ears. He thought them a bit bland.
    • The same batch of hotwings had the same effect on Doc's new Love Interest here.
  • Pocket Princesses: In this strip, Tiana's gumbo is so spicy that it turns Elsa's ice powers into water powers.


Video Example(s):


Asking for Water

From "Endless Reader". Little Blue ate something spicy and had to ask for water!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / FireBreathingDiner

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