Many myths and folk tales describe a food that is created by gods, magic, or science to feed people in a time of need. It goes by many names: manna, ambrosia, nectar, etc., but it is usually portrayed as a gift. It may taste like heaven, bread, or cardboard, but it is enough to keep you on your feet and doing what you need to do.
This trope is Older Than Feudalism, going all the way back to Greek mythology and the concept of ambrosia, although in some cases it gets mixed up with the food eaten by the gods themselves that provides them with immortality, invulnerability, and so forth.
In a Standard Fantasy Setting, priests and/or wizards may be able to conjure food; this is typically sustaining but bland. In a Science Fiction setting, Food Pills may be utilized; if not, vats or replicators may churn out gruel or paste for the masses that keeps them alive, if not necessarily happy, with "real food" available only to the privileged. The point is that the food in question comes from a "Black Box", whether it be magic or science that's involved in creating it. A typical dystopian subversion is that the food is created in an immoral or unsavory way.
- Soylent Green: The Soylent Corporation produces cheap, nutritious food to sustain Earth's overpopulated masses. Subverted with the infamous revelation that "Soylent Green is people."
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Elven lembas bread (which got more emphasis in the original book) is featured in a scene from the Extended Edition DVD. Legolas explains to the hobbits Merry and Pippin that a single bite of lembas can fill a grown man's stomach for a day. As soon as Legolas leaves:
Merry: How many of them did you eat?Pippin: Three. [groans]
- The Lord of the Rings: Elven lembas, or waybread, is created by a secret art, never spoils, and a single bite can sustain a person for an entire day.
- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: Nicholas can create food very quickly with alchemy.
- In the Prydain Chronicles, Gurgi's magical wallet provides a neverending amount of food. The food is nutritious, though Eilonwy notes that it's rather tasteless. The wallet only runs out at the end of the series, when magic itself leaves Prydain forever.
- In The Stormlight Archive Soulcasters (basically alchemy by way of magitek) can transmute many substances, and can be used to easily make food, though in keeping with the trope it's bland and unsatisfying. The process is used mainly to allow Easy Logistics for moving armies.
- Rand Al'Thor causes this a few times late in The Wheel of Time series, in accordance with his emerging role as a Messianic Archetype. With the Dark One causing massive famine throughout the world, Rand's first act after undergoing major Epiphany Therapy and a Split-Personality Merge is to visit a farmer whose apple trees have spontaneously withered to rapidly bloom and bear fruit over a matter of minutes. Later, he visits a city dependent on grain reliefs which have all spoiled, and makes it so that, by extraordinary coincidence, only the handful of bags the officials checked were spoiled, the rest are perfectly good.
- In the Left Behind series, God provides His people in Petra with daily manna during the last half of the Tribulation. Also He blesses Ezer Bornstein, a Jewish butcher, with so many animals he can make meat from that he's giving it away for free.
- The Raven Tower: One Physical God's most famous accomplishment is discovering how to produce this, which it uses to feed its patron city. It's more difficult than it looks, requiring precise understanding of the chemical processes involved, and more difficult still to produce food that won't cause long-term malnutrition.
- Star Trek Universe: The replicators can recycle matter to synthesize almost anything, including food and drinks. Several episodes have seen the crew replicate food and other provisions for people in need.
- The Bible:
- God sent manna to feed the Israelites in their exile. Similarly to Soma, Manna's possible identity as a drug has been extensively debated.
- Elijah once encountered a widow and her son during a famine who were down to their last meal, but after they prepared a cake for him from what little they had, he promised them that their flour and oil would not run out until the drought and famine were over, and God fulfilled that promise so that even though they didn't get any more flour and oil, what little they had never ran out.
- Jesus fed 5000 men plus women and children using five loaves and two fishes. On another occasion, He fed 4000 using a few loaves of bread.
- In Finnish mythology, The Sampo is a magical mill that produces grain and salt from nothing.
- In Greek mythology, the Cornucopia is a magical horn created by Zeus (or Herakles in some versions) which is said to be able to create a never-ending supply of fruits and vegetables.
- In Norse Mythology, The beast Sæhrímnir is slaughtered every night for the feast in Valhalla, and returns to life on the morrow, thought it's not clear whether this is an intrinsic power of the creature or some magic worked upon it. In a similar story, Thor can slaughter his goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, for food and return them to life later with Mjöllnir.
- In Hinduism, especially in the earlier Vedic religion, there's a substance called "Soma", which gives the gods strength and vitality in battle. It has been discussed, at great length, whether or not it was a drug, and which drug it may have been.
- There's also "Haoma", which is the same thing, except that it's mentioned in Zoroastrian texts.
- Also, there's Amrita, which, similarly to Ambrosia, gives the gods immortality. The difference is that said immortality was actually lost, and it had to be restored. Amrita is generally considered to be a separate substance from Soma, although they are occasionally held to be synonyms.
- In the Japanese fairy tale "My Lord Bag of Rice", the hero slays a giant centipede to help a dragon princess. She rewards him with several magical items, including the eponymous bag of rice. Said bag of rice would never be empty no matter how much rice was taken from it.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Magic users in all editions of D&D have spells that can conjure food and water. Some magic items can do this as well, and most deities have it as one of their basic powers.
- Exalted is about demigods performing miracles, so of course it has the spell, "Food from the Aerial Table"; One casting of this spell produces enough food to feed a unit of Magnitude (Essence) for one day. It's demonstrated in Keychain of Creation here. And it makes all witnesses want to learn sorcery.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, there is a Gift the Bone Gnawer tribe have called Cooking. It allows the Bone Gnawer to turn anything into bland but nutritious food. Anything.
- Assassin's Creed III: In an optional conversation, Shaun reveals that, while poking around the Grand Temple, he found machines that manufacture a bland but nutritious substance, evidently intended to keep the people of the First Civilization alive while sheltering there. He theorizes that this is the origin of the concept of ambrosia, and to the dismay of his companions, states that he tried some of it. According to him, it tastes like cardboard.
Rebecca: "You ate something that came out of a seventy five thousand year old machine?"
- Black & White: Summon Grain is one of the most basic miracles your god can perform, and is a fairly useful way for a good god to keep their own villagers healthy and convert villages to their religion.
- Fallout: New Vegas: In the Dead Money DLC, you can find 'vending machines' which are actually matter conversion devices. These can be used to convert casino chips into food, medicine, tools or ammo.
- World of Warcraft: Mages have spells to conjure food and water, which can serve an entire party or raid group. Fittingly, some levels of the food are called "manna cakes". As with all conjured items, they disappear from your inventory after you log out, and can't be sold or mailed.
- Fangbone! has the episode The Kat of Munching where Fangbone and Bill eat fudge made from the pixels of Munchie-Kat. The fudge was supposed to give you a magical nice sweet feel and scent.
- The SCP Foundation has these two SCPs which produce an endless supply of food for the poor, but at a risk. Appropriately enough, they come from a Group of Interest called the "Manna Charitable Foundation".
- SCP-1176 is a sarcophagus that produces an extremely nourishing honey-like substance. This being the SCP Foundation universe, it's only after widespread distribution that they discovered it only works on those of a certain blood type, killing all the others.
- SCP-1615 is an edible fungus that causes the eater to survive via photosynthesis until a more stable food source can be found.
- SCP-458 is an indestructible pizza box which, when opened, always contains the opener's favourite pizza. After extensive testing and no visible side effects, it currently resides in the site-17 canteen alongside an admonishment to not just pig out on free pizza but get some work done too.