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Food as Characterization

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Even before we get deep into the story, or sometimes afterwards, an early clue about a character can be presented by how they like their food or drink. Sometimes, the food choice is symbolic, representing something about their personality, affiliation, or true nature. Other times, it's simply a character tic that makes the person more memorable.



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    Anime and Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Goblins like to eat insects, as their crunchiness goes well with chicken, but also because they're not very civilized, living through banditry, with other species appearing to make civilization.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Probably one of the greatest example is the lunch scene from The Breakfast Club. Each lunch symbolizes the character and their relationship with their parents.
    • Andy has a giant lunch made by his parents. It's also not particularly healthy despite being him athlete. It's lunch his parents clearly made for him to maintain his weight, but the high sugar content (cookies and a 6 pack of content) shows they don't really care about his actual wellness, only for him to maintain appearances. Andy also seems unaware of all that's in his lunch, symbolizing his lack of control in his own life.
    • Claire has sashimi (which she identifies as sushi). A fancy lunch (especially for the time), to showing her parents wealth and desire to show off that wealth.
    • Bryan has PB and J, with the crusts cut off. Showing his parent's smothering nature and the fact they still perceive him as a child.
    • Allison disassembles her lunch to make a sandwich of captain crunch and pixie sticks. Symbolizing her rebellious nature and her general weirdness which she does to draw attention.
    • Bender's parents are neglectful, he therefore has no lunch.
  • Parasite (2019): The Parks are Sheltered Aristocrats who keep expensive, premium-quality Hanwoo beef sirloin in the fridge but thoughtlessly mix it in with instant noodles.

  • The Sword of Truth: Richard can't stomach meat because of all the killing he has to do in his job as a war wizard.
  • In The Witch In The Cherry Tree, the titular witch prefers her cupcakes burnt. This is apparently a trait among witches, because the normal people refer to the burnt cupcakes as "witch cakes".
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden is a Blue-Collar Warlock with little disposable income whose tastes run in two directions - a magical Truce Zone pub with top-notch steak sandwiches and phenomenal beer, and fast food. In Changes, he insists on meeting The Don Johnny Marcone at a Burger King. Even after he has a more stable income, he still loves to order from the extremely cheap Pizza 'Spress, precisely because it's terrible pizza that was all he could afford in his younger days, and thus it satisfies a deep nostalgia.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: Kvothe's Orphan's Ordeal and subsequent money troubles left him fond of Mundane Luxuries like snacking on fresh apples (rather than scrounging for discarded cores) and treating his friends to dinner at a nice (but not fancy) restaurant.
  • The Raven Tower: When the heir to the throne, Mawat, suffers his first major setback, he locks himself in his room and leaves his meals outside to spoil. It's an early sign of how he takes his rank and its privileges for granted, and of how his Hair-Trigger Temper often works against him.
    Servant: If he doesn't come out in an hour or two you should just drink the milk, because it will go bad. I don't know why Cook even sent it. We hardly get any fresh milk, and it's wasted on this.
    Eolo: He likes milk. He likes it a little sour. [the servant rolls her eyes]
  • The Kingston Cycle by C.L. Polk: Grace's relationship with Avia is always underscored by the fact that Grace is a tremendously wealthy noblewoman and Avia went from Riches to Rags. It rises to the surface when Grace's servants serve them a Simple, yet Opulent breakfast, including candied oranges, while outside, much of the country is being pushed towards starvation by a brutal winter.
  • The uniqueness of the various Athena Club girls is emphasized by their dietary preferences. Mary Forgets to Eat; Diana eats enough for three women, mostly sweets; Catherine consumes only meat, fish, and dairy; Justine is a staunch vegetarian; and Beatrice subsists on steeped vegetation.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hannibal: Hannibal Lecter is a Man of Wealth and Taste and a Supreme Chef whose meals are always meticulously-crafted Food Porn. Unfortunately, to match his love of being a Devil in Plain Sight, they usually have a secret ingredient.
  • The Last of Us (2023): The first sign that Bill is more than just a Crazy Survivalist is when he grudgingly allows Frank to stay for lunch, then comes out with an exquisitely cooked meal and wine pairing. Frank is stunned silent, and by the end of the day, they're in a relationship.
    Frank: A man who knows to pair rabbit with a beaujolais!
    Bill: I know I don't seem like the type.
    Frank: No, you do.
  • In The Office (US), Michael's preference for chain restaurants is a sign of his immaturity and lack of sophistication; for example, when he goes to New York City on a business trip, he gets a "New York Slice" from Sbarro, and uses the local Chili's both when he has a meeting with a potential major client, and when hosting the annual Dundie awards.
  • Poirot: The titular Belgian detective is effete, sophisticated, and as fastidious about his food as about everything else. He seeks out skilled continental chefs; places highly specific orders, once refusing to eat eggs of unequal sizes; and calls English cuisine nothing more than food, to the bemusement of his English friends. Nonetheless, when Hastings takes him out for midnight fish and chips after a case, he digs in with a secret grin.
  • Supernatural: The Winchester brothers are blue-collar monster-hunters who live on the road, so they tend towards simple restaurant fare and fast food. Dean loves burgers so much that one angel tries to bribe him with a platter from his favourite restaurant, while Sam, the more conscientious and forward-thinking of the pair, tries to balance out the heart-stopper meals with salads.
  • You: Love believes in this very heavily. She insists on taking Joe to restaurants all around Los Angeles to find his "perfect bite", analyzing him all the way through. In the end, the dinner she makes for him encompasses not only what he likes in a meal, but his personality and interests in general—old fashioned, done right, not gimmicky, but real.

    Video Games 
  • In Bravely Default, the main characters are given an opportunity to order food on the Grandship. The suave Ringabel gets spiced meat dishes, the cute and naïve Edea gets a fluffy omelet and a sweet parfait, country boy Tiz gets big filling meat dishes and humble Agnès orders a small vegetarian meal.


    Western Animation 
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Fat Bastard Steven Mandragora is eating a massive amount of raw oysters as he's interrogated by Agent Faraday. While making suggestive comments to Black Canary, he mentions to Green Arrow that he likes his oysters "young and sweet."
  • In the The Loud House episode "Project Loud House", each of Lincoln's sisters likes her eggs cooked differently (except the twins, who both like theirs hard-boiled). Some of these preferences don't say anything about their personalities, but two do, namely Luan who likes hers in a cube shape (or "funny side-up") which ties into her quirky personality, and Lucy who likes hers burnt because she's a goth and therefore likes fire and the colour black.


Video Example(s):


Miki's Analogy

Two episodes in and Miki gives us the only instance of the series' title used in the story.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TitleDrop

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