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Grandma's Recipe

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Grandma's Recipe is supposedly the list of ingredients — some of which might be secret — needed to create some of the best foodstuffs imaginable. The food can be anything under the sun, but most of the time, it will be some sort of Comfort Food, often cookies. Characters will either find this recipe and use it to their advantage in the plot, or they try to replicate it, which may or may not be successful.

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It doesn't particularly have to be Grandma's, but the basic trope is that someone's "old recipe" is a one way ticket to the most delicious stuff imaginable.

The recipe may contain some Insubstantial Ingredients that make it taste so special: something like "kindness" or "happy thoughts" or, of course, "love." The Grandma (or Grandma-figure) in question is almost always a Granny Classic.

On the other hand, a common inversion is for Grandma to be a Cordon Bleugh Chef.


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Examples

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     Advertising 
  • Giving off this feel is a common approach to advertising food. Many products feature kind-looking old women on the packaging or are named after someone's (assumed) grandmother.
  • Uncle Ben's, a brand of parboiled rice and rice sauces found all over the world, has been aware of this trope since The '40s!.

    Animated Films 
  • Red Riding Hood's grandmother from Hoodwinked is called Grandma, and has a recipe for irresistible cookies. That is, until this recipe and others like it are mysteriously absconded by The Villain, who seeks to corner the goodie market.

    Literature 
  • Whateley Universe: Dorms of Our Lives, Season 4, part 2:
    Hannah: "Here you go. A molasses cookie. I made them myself in Home Ec. with my grandma's secret recipe. Super-tasty, I guarantee."
  • In Komarr, Ekaterin had a recipe from her great-aunt for a comfort-drink of heated milk with brandy and spices, for when people were sick or just had insomnia. During a fast-penta interrogation, she insisted on giving the complete recipe.
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    Live Action TV 
  • In The Flash, Joe often proudly brings up recipes by Grandma Esther. At one point he competed with his girlfriend Cecile Horton over whose grandma made the better eggnog. When they tried the eggnogs, they both coughed due to the excessive alcohol and declared each other's grandmothers were alcoholics.
  • Friends: Monica and Phoebe try to replicate Phoebe's grandma's cookie recipe so that Monica can have the best cookies for when she becomes a mom. It turned out that she had just copied the ingredients from Nestle Tollhouse. Or, in Phoebe's terms, Neslay Toulouse.
  • One episode of Bones has a B-plot where one of the lab assistants (Hodgins) uses up the last of the hot sauce from the company fridge, ignoring the note from another assistant, Finn, not to eat it. Turns out it was the very last bottle of hot sauce Finn's grandmother ever made, and seemingly irreplaceable. This being a forensic show, Hodgins manages to determined precisely what was in the hot sauce via testing and replicate it to make it up to Finn.
  • On Taxi, after several batches of chocolate chip cookies made from his grandmother's recipe are hugely popular with the cabbies, Latka decides to sell the cookies commercially — only to find out grandma's secret ingredient was ground coca leaf.
  • Subverted in an episode of Saved by the Bell where Screech whips up a batch of his grandma's spaghetti sauce, which everyone at Bayside finds delicious. Zack turns it into a money-making enterprise, only to be threatened by a company who discovered "Screech's Secret Sauce" was from a recipe in their cookbooks. Screech says that of course it came from a cookbook because "Grandma was a lousy cook!"

    Video Games 
  • With The Sims 2 Freetime, sims with the family focus can unlock the ability to make Grandma's Comforting Soup, a special dish capable of curing all diseases.
  • In Armed & Delirious, Grandma's Recipes actually constitute the MacGuffin, with the villain stealing Granny's cookbook in hopes of recreating her famous soup. Fittingly for both the game and Granny, the recipes therein have ingredients both bizarre and disgusting when actually given out.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Link's Grandmother will be able to make him Elixir Soup after a certain point in the story. It acts as one of the best potions in the game, not only fully restoring both health and magic, but doubling your attack damage until you take a hit. There's also two servings in a bottle so you can use it twice before running out, and you can receive more for free indefinitely anytime you return home. The only downside is that you can only carry one bottle at a time. It's also the only bottled item that makes Link smile before drinking, where potions get a grimace.
"And your kind old grandmother filled your bottle so full that there's two helpings inside! Isn't she the sweetest?"
In-Game Description

    Web Original 
* In Cellblock A of the Evil Overlord List, this is an element of Rule #158.
I will exchange the labels on my folder of top-secret plans and my folder of family recipes. Imagine the hero's surprise when he decodes the stolen plans and finds instructions for Grandma's Potato Salad.

    Web Video 
  • In his cooking videos, Boris almost always talks on and on about his "Babushka" and the different recipes, cooking tips and etc. That she taught him to be the Supreme Slav Chef he is today.
  • Gran-Gran's Sweet Butter Cake. Because this is the Deep South, the recipe calls for eight cups of lard and four sticks of butter...
    "I used to eat this all the time. How am I still alive?!"
  • In the "Medimoji" video series by ZDoggMD, the ER nurse, Feli, talks about how the nurses frequently throw potlucks, and they all beg her to bring in her grandma's cinnamon rolls. Feli confesses that she lied on three counts: one, that her grandma is still alive two, that she had a family recipe, and three, that she baked them herself. (She just went to the store and bought cinnamon rolls, so she wouldn't have to bake.)

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: Lois finds her Grandmother's cookie recipe in "Baking Bad", which are so good it leads to her and Peter starting up their own cookie shop.
  • In the The Looney Tunes Show episode, "Bobcats On Three!", after Porky's catering business hasn't had much luck, Bugs convinces Porky to use his Grandmother's recipes, which are all full of butter. Soon, Porky's business is back on track, particularly because Bugs becomes addicted to the food and throws parties that he wants Porky to cater just so he can eat the food. Eventually, all of Bugs' friends are sick of his parties, so he invites complete strangers. Porky warns Bugs that the recipes might be unhealthy, but Bugs pays no attention. Sure enough, the food he is addicted to has made him very fat.
  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode Cookie Dough, Madame Foster has a special recipe for cookies that she only makes once a year. Bloo takes the recipe and starts making the cookies for profit, but they quickly fail to sell, because Madame Foster had a secret ingredient that he forgot: love.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • According to one episode, the Krabby Patty recipe was handed down to Mr. Krabs by his mother. A later episode had Krabs inventing the formula, but then the show was never strong on continuity.
    • Another episode had Squidward give Plankton his grandmother's chum recipe which made chum, a previously awful and, in some cases, inedible dish into a successful enterprise for Plankton.
  • In the first story arc of Rocky and Bullwinkle, "The Jet Fuel Formula", said formula was actually Grandma Bullwinkle's fudge cake recipe.
  • Phineas and Ferb has an example in the form of Gretel Doofenshmirtz. She had a recipe for a delicious meatloaf. The secret ingredient? Hate.
    "Usually it's Love, but Great-Grandma Gretel had some issues."
  • One episode of Garfield and Friends had Jon and Garfield find an Italian restaurant run by an elderly Italian grandmother who was trying to avoid having her restaurant bought out by a big corporation. Finally, it was proposed that they resolve the issue via a cooking contest: if the corporate cooks could follow her pizza recipe and make a pizza that was as good as one of hers, she'd sell the restaurant. Naturally, Garfield was named the judge of the competition. They initially tried substituting cheap, low quality ingredients, but even after they faithfully followed the recipe they still couldn't make a pizza that was as good as Grandma's. After they gave up, Garfield revealed her secret: she paid attention to what she was cooking and tasted it to see if it needed extra seasoning or other tweaks, while the corporate cooks just mechanically followed the recipe.
  • Batman Beyond: As Bruce and Barbara are discussing Terry over tea and crumpets, Bruce notes that he "learned from the best" how to brew tea, but regrets that he never learned how Alfred made the "tea cakes".
  • During the second season of Total Drama, DJ uses his mom’s “Momma‘s spice” to enhance the flavour of Chef’s cooking.


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