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Fun with Alphabet Soup

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Image by Dave Coverly. Image used with permission.
"Dudes, this is cooler than when my alphabet soup spelled 'ytzik-gurpledinc'."
Random Guy, Hannah Montana, "You Didn't Say It Was Your Birthday"

Alphabet soup is an iconic meal of many people's childhood. After all, who doesn't want to eat words? Because it is well-liked by a lot of people, it shows up quite often in media, too.

Being a dish shaped like letters, alphabet soup is prone to be Played for Laughs. It could be used to spell offensive messages, contain the alphabet of a different language, be missing certain letters, appear as Anthropomorphic Food (since they have a way to spell messages out), spell threatening messages, be used in place of writing, and more. It often appears in media aimed at very young children, often in the form of Alphabet Songs. It also appears frequently in Edutainment Games involving spelling.

Compare Anthropomorphic Typography for another form of letters "coming to life." Not to be confused with Alphabet Soup Cans, which is something else entirely, though could use alphabet soup for spelling. Not to be confused, either, with a Red-Tape Shuffle, where one might be sent to a myriad of bored, uncaring government office workers and shuffled to a number of departments, which is confusing, time-consuming, and the number of abbreviated names often dismissively called "alphabet soup".

Note that examples with Alpha-Bits cereal also count for this trope.


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  • One commercial for Campbell's soup featured and old lady serving alphabet soup to her grandsons, warning them, "No bad words." Cue the kids giggling as it's implied they're spelling out vulgarities. When the grandmother checks on them, she looks shocked for a moment before musing, "That's what I used to call your grandfather."

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: In Superman #131, Superman tricks Mister Mxyzptlk into saying his name backwards (thereby banishing him back to his home dimension) using a ruse involving a restaurant that offers a week of free meals to anybody who finds their name in a bowl of alphabet soup.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • In A Goofy Movie, while Goofy and Max are stuck in the car as the Bigfoot is rummaging through their items, and what they have salvaged so far is a can of alphabet soup, Goofy and Max reminisce about the time when Max was younger, he would arrange the letters in the alphabet soup such as "Hi Dad", which he did again in the car, and Goofy was heartwarmingly touched.

    Film — Live-Action 


  • Clue: Used in book #9, chapter 2 ("Alphabet Soup"), where Mr. Boddy has the guests spell out all their last names with the alphabet noodles and then play a little game, identifying the name he's thinking of through a series of clues. After the game is done, Mrs. White gets in on the fun by making everyone spell out "PLEASE" and "THANK YOU" with the noodles before she'll bring in the next course.
  • Martha Speaks: The premise of the stories is a dog, Martha, having the ability to talk by eating alphabet soup. She has to eat it every day to retain that ability.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: In book 8 (The Hostile Hospital), Klaus and Sunny have to use alphabet soup to solve anagrams. Since the letters are so fragile and slippery, they keep breaking, forcing the two to use chunks of carrot as stand-ins.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of The Amanda Show, Penelope Taynt (Amanda's Number One Fan, please!) goes on a date with her boyfriend — himself a major Amanda fan — and he reveals that he made alphabet soup for her but removed every letter except A, M, N and D, so that "it only spells 'AMANDA'".
  • The page quote is from the Hannah Montana episode "You Didn't Say it Was Your Birthday"; a guy interested in buying Darth-Vader look-alike chip mentions that he found it interesting when his alphabet soup spelled some random gibberish.
  • In How Not to Live Your Life, Eddie uses Alphabetti Spaghetti to spell out "Sexy Pants" (his nickname for Don) on Don's plate. Don amuses himself by removing the P and then wondering if ants find each other sexually attractive.
  • The children's game show Incredible Games has the game "Alphabet Soup", from which the contestants have to fish magnetic letters, and use them to spell words. But the twist is just before they play this game, the players are shrunk to a tiny size, so the bowl of soup becomes a swimming pool, and two of them have to dive in to fetch the letters, for their third team mate to make words with.
  • Little Britain: There is a passing mention of "Alphabetti Spaghetti", from which Lou has to remove all the K's, for the fussy Andy.
  • Monk: In "Mr. Monk Stays in Bed", Natalie brings Monk some alphabet soup while he is sick with the flu. Due to his obsessive personality, he insists on eating the letters in alphabetical order.
  • In an episode-pair of Batman (1966)" ("A Piece of the Action"/"Batman's Satisfaction", which was a crossover with The Green Hornet''), "Special Guest Villain" Colonel Gumm (Roger C. Carmel) is such a connoisseur of alphabet soup that he keeps extra consonants on hand. A bowl of alphabet soup is deciphered by the Bat-Computer.

  • One Old Master Q strip has Big Potato drinking alphabet soup and returning a foreigner's greeting with a "HELLO" spelled by holding the soup's alphabets in his mouth.


  • In Rory Webley's "Friendly Neighborhood Poltergeist", the titular ghost is trying to get the protagonist, a woman who lives in the house he haunts, to notice him. One of the things he does is leave the message "I love you" in her alphabet soup.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street:
    • In one "Abby's Flying Fairy School" skit, Abby and her classmates use letters from alphabet soup to make a stop sign because they Couldn't Find a Pen.
    • In one skit, Mr. Johnson the crabby restaurant customer orders alphabet soup, but he isn't satisfied until every single letter is present, and by then, the soup has cooled down.

    Video Games 
  • In a licensed web game based on Martha Speaks, the player must sort the letters from the numbers and put them into the correct bowl of soup to make alphabet soup and "number soup".
  • In one licensed web game of Sesame Street, you need to fill in the missing letter to spell a word in Cookie Monster's alphabet soup.
  • Undertale: In the winter alarm clock dialogue, at the end of Undyne's story, when everyone's having a cup of soup, Napstablook has this to say:
    “oh… i drank some too…
    even though it passed through me… it was a little warm…
    …but, best of all…
    there was a special message at the bottom of the alphabet soup
    one that made me…tear up
    it was the lyrics to my favorite holiday song
  • Word Krispies involves making words out of bowls of the titular cereal.

    Web Original 
  • The Annoying Orange episode Souper Dooper features a talking Alphabet Soup. It can create words with his letters that come out in soup bubbles, which he demonstrates by spelling Pear's name. He creates "Z"'s when sleeping and "GRR" after being completely annoyed by an Orange.
  • An article from the German satire website Der Postillon describes a woman finding the letters HELP in her soup and alerting the police, which immediately stormed the soup factory but couldn't find evidence of anyone requiring help there.
  • Epithet Erased: "Spell-'em-Up Soup" Is the house special in Redwood Run's saloon, as well as the proprietor's preferred shotgun ammo. It's missing at least four letters, but the local sheriff still orders a bag so he can learn to spell.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-1404 is a bowl filled with milk that periodically manifests threatening messages like "DEATH IS NEAR" and "YOU WILL DIE" in cereal letters. Various attempts by Foundation scientists to communicate with it have all failed.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Origins", it's shown that Gumball picked a name for Darwin by mixing his alphabet soup. However, the soup actually read "JPXFRD", Gumball just couldn't read yet.
  • Arthur: "Paradise Lost" opens with D.W. eating alphabet soup. We see that the two letters on her spoon are "D" and "W", and the "D" falls off.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "The Son Also Draws", Peter believes his Alpha-Bits are sending him a spiritual message until Brian points out that he's eating Cheerios.
    • In "Peter's Def Jam", when Peter goes deaf, Joe tries to have him spell out messages with Alpha-Bits but has already eaten all of the "L"s.
    • In "The Marrying Kind", Chris and Peter are eating Alpha-Bits at a hotel buffet. Chris' cereal spells out 'FART' while Peter's encourages him to murder his family. He quickly eats the message before Chris can see it, but the cereal continues to berate him for being a coward.
  • In the Martha Speaks series adapted from the books, the premise of Martha the dog being able to speak by eating soup is further involved in more situations. For instance, when Martha eats Polish alphabet soup, she can only speak Polish, and when half the letters are removed from the soup, Martha can only speak using the letters that remain.
  • Recess: The episode "King Gus" opens on a bowl of alphabet soup spelling out "uh oh" which, while it technically was referring to King Bob's situation, it could also be read as sign of what will happen when Gus takes the throne. The alphabet soup is used by Wizard Kid, appearing to be an improvised cauldron, similar to how a lot of seemingly mundane objects are improvised as something much cooler by the kids on the show via imagination.
  • The Rugrats (1991) episode "Mommy's Little Assets" begins with a close-up of Angelica's alphabet cereal floating in milk. The letters that pass by the camera are SOS. Angelica then scoops up some of her alphabet cereal and spreads it onto Drew's tie, spelling her name as "ANXGF".
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Moe'N'a Lisa", Homer wakes up to various reminders telling him not to forget... something, and he doesn't know what. One of these happens at breakfast when Maggie coughs up some alphabet cereal that says "DON'T FORGE".
    Homer: Don't forge? Don't forge what?
    (Maggie coughs up a letter T.)
    Homer: Ohhh, don't forget. Don't forget what?!
    • In "Diggs", Homer keeps pestering Bart to give him back the $20 that Homer lent him. This includes giving him alphabet soup where the letters float up to say, 'U OWE ME $20."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "Jellyfishing", SpongeBob and Patrick try and obviously fail to cheer up an injured Squidward with soup that spells "Best Day Ever". Patrick blows on the spoon and sends steaming hot soup splashing all over Squidward's bandaged face. This repeats several times, until SpongeBob tells him that soup may not be the best thing for Squidward right now.
    • In "Can You Spare A Dime", one of the ways SpongeBob tries to hint at the freeloading Squidward to move out of his house is by serving him alphabet soup that spells 'GET A JOB'. Squidward pettily rejects the soup, stating that it's from a can.
  • Woody Woodpecker: In "The Reckless Driver", Woody Woodpecker goes to the police department to renew his driver's licence but Wally Walrus, the officer in charge, is sleeping, so Woody wakes him by burning his feet in a stove. In retaliation, Wally tells him to read a chart where it's written "I can't see a thing". Of course, Woody reads it perfectly but it sounds like he can't read, so Wally jokingly puts some alphabet soup in a bowl for him to try again. The alphabet also forms the phrase "I can't see a thing"; pretending to help, Walry gently pushes Woody forward for him to read it better then pushes his head into the soup. Furious, Woody spits the alphabet on Wally's belly, spelling: "Roses are red, violets are blue; this test stinks and so are you".
  • WordWorld: In the episode where Ant is sick, Pig tries to make him feel better with alphabet soup. Since the premise of the show is everything being made of words, he uses the letters to build a bed, pillow, and blanket for Ant to get some rest. At the very end, he also feeds Ant some of the soup.