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Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List

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"I notice banana milk is on this list."
"On the first page of my notes, I wrote "Starts slow." On the second page, I wrote "Boring." On the third page, I wrote "Endless!" On the fourth page, I wrote: "Bite-size Shredded Wheat, skim milk, cantaloupe, frozen peas, toilet paper, salad stuff, pick up laundry."

Basically, somebody writes down a safe combination, a speech or poem, plans for the Death Star, etc. onto a piece of paper.

So they reach into their pocket, pull out a list, and more or less go....

"Now that's done, let's see what else I must do. Butter, eggs, litre of milk... wait, no. That's my grocery list", puts it away, pulls out another list: "Okay, let's start again."

A variation has a messenger handing at first a grocery list instead of the intended message to its recipient. Another variant involves someone taking out the wrong sheet of paper with a list of laundry items.

Not to be confused with Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick, except in the most literal examples.

A subtrope of Unfortunate Item Swap. See also Script Swap. This may be one response to an Shockingly Expensive Bill.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Durarara!!, Shinra finds out that he gave Celty his shopping list rather than the license plate of the van she was supposed to chase after when he checked it at the supermarket. Later, it turns out that she didn't need to do anything anyway since Kyohei AKA Dotachin's group was chasing after it, albeit for other reasons.
  • Used in one of the Full Metal Panic!! novels, 'Cinderella'. Sagara Sousuke lists things Cinderella needs to go to the ball: "1 pumpkin, 4 mice, 1 lizard, 1 assault rifle, 1 shotgun, 24 anti-personnel hand grenades, 160 5.56 mm bullets, three cases of c4 explosives, 6 Claymore land mines..." Turns out, all of those deadly weaponry are just his shopping list, not the things one needs to get to the ball.
  • Some of the manga editions of Kingdom Hearts included a set of one-shot comic strips at the end of the volume, generally featuring an amusing twist on something that happened in the main story. One of the ones at the end of Volume 3 featured Aerith trying to decode Ansem's Xehanort's Report. "Ansem the Wise... what were you trying to do...? Pork, onion, carrot, potato, shiitake mushroom... Ansem... You like shiitake mushroom in your curry?!"

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: Played with. Adu Du reads aloud the contents of the secret book he stole from Tok Aba, thinking it contains a secret cocoa recipe. What he reads aloud is a list of tabs that Tok Aba keeps on people who owe him money, much to his frustration.
    Adu Du: 10 o'clock, $3.50, Gopal! (evil laugh) 2 o'clock, $7.20 Gopal! 7 o'clock, $5.90! Footnote: Payments pending for three months!
    BoBoiBoy Lightning: Huh? What kind of recipe is that?
    Adu Du: The recipe of your — wait — what book is this?!

    Comic Books 
  • In The Muppets King Arthur, a group of planted protesters are reading cue-cards provided by Sir Sam of Eagle. One of them shouts out "Bread, milk, cheese, armour polish..." before Sam gives him the right card.
  • Nightwing: Wally invokes this trope when he stops by to cover for Dick while Dick is out "sick" chasing a witness around the Europe, Wally "accidentally" leaves his to do list behind as a note for his friend reading:
    Things To Do Today:
    1. Save the world.
    2. Kick supervillain butt.
    3. Go over to best friend's apartment and pretend to hurl.
    4. Save the world again.
  • In The Smurfs comic book version of "The Astro Smurf", Harmony (or Drummer) makes an announcement that Astro Smurf's invention is ready to be unveiled, but the first thing he reads off is a recipe Greedy Smurf had given him.
  • Inverted in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories 630 (1996), story "Scandal on the Epoch Express." Donald Duck, porter on a train, reads what appears to be a grocery list of all the freight items the train should have picked up, but segues halfway through into the Witches' Chant from Macbeth. (That's the one that goes "Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog...")

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert
    • One strip had Ted trying to push a stupid plan because the pros outnumbered the cons. Dilbert read the list and found out that everything in the pros column was part of his grocery list. Having been caught out, Ted claims that the fault is trying to quantize pros vs cons, rather than that the plan is stupid.
    • In Wally Took Notes, Wally's notes from the last meeting are insults about his co-workers and a list of snacks.
  • Garfield:
    • In this comic, Jon mixes up a poem he wrote for Liz with Garfield's grocery list.
    • It happens again in this comic, though this time Jon realizes the mistake before he starts reading the list.
    Garfield: Read it slowly.
    Jon: Although this appears to be a shopping list.
    Garfield: (smiles) And with feeling.
  • Ottifanten: A pirate captain with a Treasure Map: "Two steps, turn right, and... cha-cha-cha?"
    Pirate mook: Sorry captain, that's from my dancing course!
  • Prickly City: Winslow's final comments on the budget: 1. Milk. 2. Carrots 3. Toilet paper. Except that no one notices.

    Fan Works 
  • Played with in Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. The President of Earth shoves a newspaper at Captain Proton headlining his involvement in a scandal, only to find when Proton reads it out loud that it's the wrong edition.
  • In Safe Space Harry acquires a bunch of Parseltongue scrolls which might include the cure for Astoria's Hereditary Curse, and starts to use a newly-altered translation rune scheme on one of them so Snape can read it.
    Snape: What are you doing? If your cockamamie rune scheme doesn't work, the scroll will be irreparably damaged.
    Harry: It's a grocery list.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In a more melodramatic version of the Mystery Men example, in 17 Again (2009) 17-year-old Mike pretends to read a letter from 30-something Mike during the divorce hearing, but it's really just his handwritten directions to the courthouse — as his wife discovers after he leaves the paper behind and she picks it up.
  • In Krull, Ergo does this while trying to find a spell he has written down.
    "There we go! Oh, this is a recipe for hot fudge sauce..."
  • Used by a hero in Mystery Men, where Lance Hunt (alter-ego of Captain Amazing) feigns reading a letter sent by Captain Amazing — but the piece of paper he's supposedly reading from is just his grocery list.
  • In Revenge of the Musketeers, a series of mix-ups and misunderstandings by the heroes and the villains have both looking for (and finding) coded messages in a laundry list and a really bad love poem. Neither contain any coded messages and are, in fact, a laundry list and a really bad love poem.

  • Inverted in one cartoon where a man goes to the supermarket and looks at a list on his smartphone which reads, "cream, bread, cake, meatloaf, black-eyed peas," and then says to himself, "this isn't my grocery list, this is my music playlist."

  • In Bored of the Rings, a portentous messenger (soon revealed to be Stomper) accidentally hands Frito a slip of paper reading: "Three shorts, four pairs socks, two shirts, chain mail, heavy starch?" This is immediately lampshaded by the narration referring to it as an "ancient gag" (the book was first published in 1969).
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz, sort of. Among the holy relics found by Brother Francis in the fallout shelter are a grocery list and a circuit diagram. Of course, since the Simplification had long destroyed every remaining diagrams and list out in the open, they're as valuable as War and Peace to the monks.
  • Detectives in Togas: In the first book, the boys write a letter to the emperor to explain that Rufus is innocent. Because they have nothing else to write on, they use the backside of a pergament with Cicero's speech against Catilina on it. When Xanthos wants to read the letter, this trope happens.
  • In Foucault's Pendulum, the main characters construct an elaborate conspiracy theory around a document that is eventually revealed to be a laundry list.
  • A cartoon in the Horrible Histories book of the 20th Century parodies the infamous "cranberry sauce" lyric of "Strawberry Fields Forever", with John Lennon reading "Cranberry sauce, strawberry jam, milk and a packet of biscuits. Wait, these aren't my lines...".
  • Not used, but in Jingo Vimes reflects that Carrot is charismatic enough that he really would be able to inspire people with a speech that went "Bread! Eggs! Milk! FLOUR!"
  • The trope also appears in the James Thurber children's book Many Moons, where the king's three advisors carry lists of all of the matters they have been consulted on. As each one reads out his list, all have added grocery items their wives wanted the advisors to pick up that day.
  • Happens to the Prime Minister in Minidoka: 937th Earl of One Mile Series M by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Having written his speech on the back of his wife's recipe book, he drops his notes. When he picks them up, he accidentally begins reading the recipe rather than his speech.
  • In The Conference of the Birds from the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series, the list of ingredients for a formula that the wights are planning to use to revive Caul is found on the back of a grocery list.
    Miss Peregrine took it from him and began to read. Her brow furrowed almost immediately. "Is this a joke?" Horace leaned over to peek at it. "Quail eggs... jellied eels... cabbages..." "Oh no, that's a grocery list," Nim said, hands fluttering as he reached for the paper and turned it over in the ymbryne's hands. "Other side."
  • In Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Catherine finds some papers just before the light goes out. Having read far too many Gothic novels, she is horrified with the possibilities. And morning reveals it was a laundry list. At the end of the novel, to escape the problems of a Parental Marriage Veto, Austen has the hero's sister marry a nobleman, and the hero's father is so pleased that he approves the hero's marriage. She then asserts that the nobleman was the one who left the laundry list, and therefore she wasn't introducing a new character at the end to act as a Deus ex Machina.
  • Used as a bluff in Witch & Wizard:
    Whit: But you gave them the map.
    Sasha: It wasn't a map, it was just a list of things I had to do once I got back to base.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventure Game: As Gandor explains the games to Dorgan in the Series 4 episode with Johnny Ball, Sorry! actress Barbara Lott, and champion water skier Liz Hobbs, he begins reading a page from the Arg Instruction Manual, and declares, "A pint of milk, a dozen eggs, a bit of... a bit of-!? Angord! Have you been writing your shopping list on my instructions again?"
  • A variant is used in the Norwegian comedy series Brødrene Dal. The brothers find a list of supplies in Roald Amundsen's chambers onboard the Fram, assuming it's a supply list for his famous polar expedition.
    Roms: I don't think so, because at the top here it says "Dear Santa Claus" and at the bottom it says "P.S. I have been nice this year." And further down it says "P.P.S. Fridtjof hasn't."
  • Blackadder:
    • Played with in "Born to be King" in the first series. When McAngus makes his mighty entrance, declaring that he is bringing the spoils of an enemy at war, a severed head falls out of his bag. He then says "Oh wait, that's my overnight bag".
    • This gag used is in "Goodbyeeee" in the fourth series, when Melchett gives Darling a highly momentous piece of paper.
      Melchett: I would like you to have this.
      Darling: A postal order for ten shillings!
      Melchett: No sorry, that's my godson's wedding present. Here.
      Darling: Oh no, sir. This is a commission to the front line.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • An odd version; the Affably Evil Mayor does not actually keep them on separate lists, making it almost literally Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Meet with the PTA, Boy Scout awards ceremony, Become invincible, Haircut.
    • In the Thanksgiving episode Pangs Willow starts reading what she thinks is a list of ingredients for a magic potion, only to be told it's the recipe for the turkey stuffing. (This is part of a running gag: virtually every conversation in the episode is eventually derailed to be about food.)
  • Community: In the season 2 episode "Epidemiology", Dean Pelton uses his ipod to provide music for a Halloween party, but he forgot that interspersed with the endless ABBA music is his grocery list, not to mention random musings that he apparently saved as an audio file.
  • In The Crystal Maze: Auntie Sabrina starts reading out a shopping list, instead of the question she is supposed to ask the contestant.
  • Death in Paradise: Done deliberately in "Death in the Clinic". Poole is convinced that the surgeon's eyesight is failing and hands him a piece of paper which he claims contains the name of a personal injury lawyer one his patients had engaged. Poole asks him if he has ever heard the name. The surgeon glances at the list and says he's never heard of him. Poole replies:
    "I'd be amazed if you had. That's my shopping list. It says 'bananas and sunblock'."
  • Subverted in this Horrible Histories sketch. The substitute teacher for a Victorian classroom takes attendance by reading the names Raspberry Lemon, Lettuce Burger, and Bovril from the class register, and thinks she'd been given a grocery list by mistake. Those are real names of real Victorian children; the sketch starts with a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer.
  • How I Met Your Mother gives us the following example:
    Marshall: [looking for his password] Jelly beans, fluffernutter, gummi bears, ginger snaps — this is a grocery list.
    Robin: For who, a witch building a house in the forest?
    Marshall: Sugar helps me study.
    Barney: This is the kind of shopping a 10-year-old does when he's alone for the weekend.
    Lily: Who leaves a 10-year-old alone for the weekend?
    Barney: [sarcastically] Oh, and your mom was perfect.
  • In an episode of Keeping Up Appearances, Hyacinth Bucket announces she has a list of demands from the Women's Institute written on the back of a voucher for 20 pence off golden syrup, and immediately afterwards reads the first demand as "20 pence off golden syrup".
  • In Kenan & Kel when the Hammer escaped prison and wanted revenge on Kenan.
    Police: We found this list in his cell.
    Kenan: [reading the list] Number one: Get out of Jail. Number two: go to the laundry. Number three: get Kenan.
  • The Magicians (2016): Inverted in "The Side Effect". When Kady assumed the apartment from Marina, she found a list on the fridge she assumed was some sort of weird grocery list. It's actually the rent Marina owes Bailey/Baba Yaga.
  • At the beginning of one episode of M*A*S*H, Blake asks Radar to read a list of everything the camp is running low on because their supply line got cut. After Radar finishes the list, Blake tells him to brief the other officers on what areas of rationing they'll be in charge of, and he starts reading the first list again. Then he stops, flips the top page of his clipboard out of the way, and reads the real second list.
    • In another episode, Colonel Blake is directing Trapper out of a minefield using what he thought was a map of the mines — but actually turns out to be a map of WWII Germany. Cue an Oh, Crap! moment when they realize that Trapper is inches away from stepping on a mine.
  • Frankie Boyle on Mock the Week:
    • "Eggs, Tea, Bread, Rich Tea biscuits.. Are you sure this is the right list, Mr. Schindler?"
    • Hugh Dennis: "Milk! Bread! Germoloids! I believe...I have been reading from the wrong piece of paper."
  • Inverted in an episode of The Nanny in which Fran picks up an old piece of paper from Maxwell's desk: it's from an original Shakespeare manuscript, specifically "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark". Fran's reaction is "If he wants Danish ham, why can't he just say so?" and she goes shopping with the MS page as her list. And gets mugged.
  • Subverted in Parks and Recreation when Andy Dwyer reads a note that sounds like a misplaced grocery list, but delivers an alternate punchline: it's a list of band names for Mouserat.
  • Pets: Subverted in "Hostage" when Davina thinks a list of Hamish's demands is going to be this trope. It turns out the list of groceries he gave them really is his list of demands. Played straight in "Reincarnation" when a grocery list is mistaken for Hamish's suicide note.
  • The second episode of Psych featured Shawn reading things to the spelling bee contestants from the original announcer's shopping list. Things like "banana" and "onion".
  • Red Dwarf:
    • "Waiting for God" went farther than most with this. The evolved descendants of Lister's cat escaped the space ship years ago aboard arks using a "star map" given to them by their god, Cloister the Stupid. The star map turned out to be Lister's laundry list, which he used to line his cat's basket.
    • In the episode "Timeslides" the crew goes back in time and steals Hilter's Diary. It read: "Things to do: Stop milk, pay papers, invade Czechoslovakia!"
    • In "Twentica", a badly wounded bootlegger tells Lister he is not going to make it and hands him a card. Lister reads the card and says "Pizza delivery? You want to order a pizza?". The bootlegger replies "Sorry. Wrong pocket" and hands him the card for the science speakeasy.
  • Scrubs: Ted gives a man his card, except it's not a business card, it's a piece of paper that says "Pick up dry cleaning. Kill self."
  • In the episode of The Slammer where the Governor loses his memory, he introduces the next act as "a pint of milk, a bag of bin liners and three scratch cards". His nephew then tells him to turn the card over.
  • In Spin City, vice mayor Charlie's friends at the office come to do an intervention to make him stop betting money on football games. Paul starts reading from a list of arguments, which turns out to be a chili recipe. "Charlie, I want you to know how much you mean to me. 'One pound of ground meat....'"
  • On Teen Wolf, Scott, Stiles and Allison need to find the bestiary that Allison's family keeps of everything they've ever hunted, without getting caught by her parents or grandfather, but at first they don't know where it is or what it looks like. Stiles thinks it's probably an old book, and Allison remembers that she's seen her grandfather with a book like that. They go to great lengths to get ahold of it, only to discover that it is, in fact, a cookbook. The real bestiary turns out to be on a flash drive.
    Scott: [leafing through the book] Salmon. Moutarde. Creme Fraiche. What is this?
    Allison: [sighs] A recipe. It's a cookbook.
  • Variation in an episode of That '70s Show where stoner Leo falls in love with Kitty and sends her a bouquet of flowers with a note reading "Roses are red, Violets are blue eggs, milk, butter".
  • The Goes Wrong Show: In an example from the opposite end of the shopping process, in "The Cornley Drama Festival, Part 2", Dennis fishes a piece of paper out of his pocket and, reading from it, declares his submitted play is called "Toothpaste, £1.99". He then realises his mistake:
    Dennis: Sorry, that's a receipt. My play is actually called (fishes through his pockets again) "Toothpaste, £1.69".
  • Utopia: In "Clause for Concern", Tony and Jim end drafting an amendment to a contract on the back of a piece of cardboard given to them by a homeless person (It Makes Sense in Context). The next day, Jim brings the cardboard back to Tony for him to check. He starts reading "I am down on my luck and homeless..." before realising and turning the cardboard over.
  • An episode of Welcome Back, Kotter had Mr. Kotter accused of sexually harassing a student. (Actually, she fainted due to a fad diet she had been on and Mr. Kotter was just trying to help her get up.) The Sweathogs wanted the girl in question to sign a confession stating that Kotter hadn't done anything. Horshach wrote the confession on the back of a grocery list and read that to her at first.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): Done (apparently as a spur-of-the-moment gag) on "Too Many Cooks". When Jon Pertwee is collecting the cards from the panellists, he takes Anouska Hempel's and starts to read "Take two teaspoons of sugar...? This is a recipe!" and playfully baffs her on the back of the head with it. A giggling Anouska then hands him the card with her real guess on it.
  • In The Windsors, Harry accidentally reads off his grocery list instead of his vows when he's marrying Meghan. He's too stupid to notice. Still, this is at least an improvement over the beginning of the series, where he couldn't read at all.
  • Variation in Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Future Harper". Max reads a printout from a writer who is writing books that feature the Russos' life story: "Bread... eggs... milk... this is the worst story ever."

  • When Rush was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Alex Lifeson's speech consisted of the following: "Uh-oh...three dozen eggs, um, two liters of milk, and a hundred and fifty Valiums. That's kinda what it's been like. Thanks very much."
  • The immortal Anna Russell used this in her "Introduction to the Concert (By the Women's Club President)", in which her character introduces "that magnificent pianist, Miss ... er ... Miss Hamburger."
  • When Pulp performed "Common People" at the 1995 Glastonbury Festival, lead singer Jarvis Cocker introduced the song by giving a short speech. After pulling out a piece of paper, he said "erm... carrots, potatoes, peas, ... no, that's my shopping list..." before giving the real speech.

  • Used in a parliamentary sketch in the Times, describing Gordon Brown's tendency to use bulleted lists in his speeches; the sketchwriter imagined that one day he might pull out a piece of paper only to start listing groceries rather than policies.

    Puppet Shows 
  • "Baxter's Book" from Bookaboo opens with Growler telling Bookaboo he's going to read him a story from a great book. He reads "Six sausages, one onion, basil, rosemary, browned all over. Put into an oven, a hot oven for one hour. Garnish with fresh parsley." Bookaboo is at first confused, then interprets Basil and "Rose Marie" as characters in the story, before realizing that Growler is reading him a recipe from a cookbook.
  • Fraggle Rock: Wembley frees a trapped spider-fly that turns out to be an Odd Old Man/Fairy Godmother—who, as a reward, gives Wembley the ability to make three flights. Later, the Fairy Godmother, annoyed with Wembley for not having used up his wish, starts to read him a book of rules on the cosmic laws of the universe.
    Fairy Godmother: "How to Cook a Bug." Mmm, wrong book. A little present from my husband... uh, wife.
  • In a LazyTown episode, Robbie Rotten, disguised as a pirate, pulls out his grocery list instead of the treasure map.
  • In the second episode of The Muppets Mayhem, the band say they've come up with some great ideas for songs, and Zoot reads off a list that goes "toothpaste, Jordan almonds, imitation crab meat". Realising his mistake, he flips the paper and reads the actual song ideas, which are "pizza bagels, nine volt batteries, meatless meatballs and Fritos".

  • A "Graham and the Colonel" sketch on The D Generation breakfast show (later included on The Breakfast Tapes album) featured the Colonel reading a list of ingredients for a recipe: "Milk, eggs, bread, dish washing liquid, squeegee... Oh wait a minute, this is my shopping list".
  • In the episode "The Canal" of The Goon Show, Henry Crun attempts to read helpful advice to Neddie after he falls in the canal, and gets halfway through a cake recipe before realising he's got hold of a cookbook instead of the Lifesaving Manual. It's typical of the series that the still-drowning Neddie's response to this realisation is to wonder what he should do with the cake batter he's just made.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Subverted in All The Great Books (Abridged) where a certain character, angry at having been given another character's grocery list instead of his poetry, tears it up. Turns out his poems were on the back.
  • In the spoof play Murder In the Magnolias, the lawyer who comes in to read the will for the deceased land owner initially reads off a recipe for gumbo, going on for a while until someone points it out to him.
  • A version in Henry IV, Part 1, of all places. Prince Hal and Peto go through the sleeping Falstaff's pockets, hoping to find money, but are excited to discover scribbled papers instead . . . until they read them and discover it's an account of his meal expenses.
  • In The Musical Comedy Of Murders Of 1940, Elsa von Grossenkenueten talks about her grandfather's great achievements in the Kaiser's secret police. She asks her houseguests if they've heard of various historical espionage documents. She begins with the Dreyfus Papers, lists a few more to the complete incomprehension of the others in the room and ends with "the von Emmett Shopping List!?!?
  • In The Sultan of Sulu, Judge Advocate Pamela Jackson has Hadji read out to Ki-Ram the penalty for failing alimony payments in an Arkansas law book. Hadji accidentally starts reading out Pamela's recipes (which she had been filing in there).

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: In Rise from the Ashes, Phoenix requests a letter of introduction to Detective Gumshoe so he is able to investigate the crime scene at the request of Jake Marshal, the cop in charge of the place. When Phoenix presents it to the literal Cowboy Cop, he comments it is actually a grocery list. While Phoenix is mentally kicking himself for not checking out the document first, Jake accepts it anyway, claiming this proves that it comes from Gumshoe better than a DNA test.
    • Inverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All where a witness tries to hide her possession of an important document by claiming "This is my top-secret list of groceries to buyyyyyyy!"
  • Exit Fate: One bookshelf in the Hall of Memory. Ancient knowledge, translated and restored... or someone's grocery list.
    When you come home today, don't forget to buy some eggs and milk on the way.
  • In Homescapes William finds a Latin note in one of the books he's reshelving. When Katherine translates it for him, it turns out to be a grocery list from his mother.
  • Fernswarthy's Letter from Kingdom of Loathing probably sets some kind of record, starting out as the great (but senile) wizard excoriating his pupils for digging up his body, meandering into a reminiscence about the last kid who bugged him, segueing from that to a friendly letter to someone away on vacation before finally, yes, ending with a grocery list.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, Angela hands a copy of her ID card to Clank, commenting that it should get them into a MegaCorp facility.
    "Forty percent off a complete service at Groovy Lube?"
  • Inverted in Sam & Max: Freelance Police Season 2 where you actually have to replace a list of swear words with a grocery list to solve one puzzle. Which results in the Soda Poppers being referred to as the *bleep* Poppers for the rest of the game.
  • Invoked in Tales of the Abyss, where a victory conversation goes like this:
    Luke: I gotta write this win down in my diary.
    Natalia: Don't forget my contribution.
    Jade: And my intelligence!
    Tear: And a list of provisions we need.
    Luke: Oh yeah. I'm in charge of shopping.

    Web Animation 
  • In an early lost episode of Eddsworld called Punch'd, when they are trying to find out stuff about Peter Andre:
    Matt: Right, so what we know about Peter is that he enjoys walks on the beach and meals for two — hey, wait a minute! Oh, right, that's his dating advert. So what we know about Peter is that he is a socially retarded solo artist who tried to revive his career with a crappy song.
  • Homestar Runner
    • "The Interview": Strong Bad tries to interview Homestar, but Homestar at first thinks he's at a job interview and hands Strong Bad his "resume", not realizing it's his grocery list.
    • Then in the sbemail "Love Poems", Homestar relays a "love poem" to Marzipan, which is more like an acrostic poem full of foodstuffs.
    Strong Bad: That's not a love poem! That is a lavishly-produced grocery list!
    Homestar Runner: No, here is my grocery list: Amazing thing, amazing thing, amazing thing, amazing thing!
    Strong Bad: Woah, where have you been shopping?
    Homestar Runner: Sky Mall.
  • An Adam Buxton animated skit about the recording of "Warszawa" features the following exchange between David Bowie and Brian Eno.
    Brian Eno: Perhaps it's time to use the oblique strategy again, Derek.
    David Bowie: Err... yes, Clive, that sounds like a very good idea.
    Brian Eno: I love doing the Derek and Clive voices, David.
    David Bowie: So do I, Brian.
    Tony Visconti: Co-producer can do Derek and Clive if you needed to.
    Brian Eno: Ok, let's take a look at the first card and see what unexpected creative directions it sends us in.
    Brian Eno: It says "beer, offal, cocaine for the weekend".
    David Bowie: Oh no, I think that's just the shopping list, Brian.
    Brian Eno: Oh yes.

    Web Comics 
  • In an Adventurers! sidestory, the evil Miguel proclaims that he will "defeat chicken sandwiches" before realizing that his speech and grocery list got mixed up.
  • Subverted in Cyanide and Happiness here. A doctor informs someone that he has an STD, and suggests to make a list of his past sexual partners. When the man shows the doctor such a list, the doctor points out that it's a grocery list. The man's response? "I like food."
  • Exterminatus Now managed to fuse this trope with a (not very) Badass Creed.
    Code of the Demon Hunters: Demons are bad. Kill demons. Also, remember milk, cereal, and bread.
  • Least I Could Do: Rayne Summers has some unusual corporate demands. Not quite a grocery list, though.
  • Used in this Little Dee strip.
  • In A Loonatic's Tale: Stone Cold Crazy, Laguna puts some organs into a machine for analysis. The analysis comes back buried in a grocery list.
  • Inverted in one My Little Pony fanart. Vinyl Scratch came home with a bunch of food for a party: Berry Punch, Lemon Drops, Bon Bons, etc. Octavia asked what all this was for. It turns out it wasn't a grocery list, but the guest list.
  • Happened in this The Noob page.
  • Particularly odd example in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and another one here.
  • Not quite, but almost: In this installment of Scary Go Round, the Devil makes an appearance. He's evidently looking at the right note; just misreads it: "Excuse me. Ryan Beckwith? I believe you owe me your soup. Oh, wait, no, can't read my own writing. Soul. You owe me your soul."
  • In the Punyverse arc of Sluggy Freelance, one of the pilots of that dimension's Voltron expy is kidnapped, and the replacement pilot is given a note card to read her vehicle's transformation catchphrase:
    Secret Cranky Office Temp: Gallon of milk, tube of hemorrhoi...
    Secret Leader Weatherman: Wrong note-card.
  • Inverted in VG Cats, where the title character of Slender accidentally grabs one of the crazy notes people keep leaving around his forest instead of his grocery list, which Aeris and Leo find tacked to a tree.
  • Played with in this Wondermark.

    Web Original 
  • Used in French audio webseries Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk. The Ranger's list of the kind of monsters the adventurers are likely to encounter runs thus:
    "...all sorts of living dead, giant spiders, orcs and goblins, cave trolls, wizards, cursed warriors, mutant rats, a bottle of oil, toilet paper, two sponges and pasta."
  • Nobody Here: "Memo" is a list of things Jogchem wants to achieve: find a goal in life, earn money, make friends, meet the love of his life, be happy... and then the last memo is simply a shopping list.
  • Not Always Right: It can help to check which piece of paper went where, as one woman discovered at the pharmacy while trying to figure out why another household member was taking so long getting groceries.

    Western Animation 
  • The 7D: In "The Jollywood Jam" Lord Starchbottom accidentally gives Queen Delightful his grocery list instead of her speech.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Storm", Gumball tries to give Alan a pep talk he has written down, but instead recites his biology notes. Once he notices, he says the words spoken so far in reverse before giving the actual speech.
  • In Archer Pam starts reading her list of things Archer has done to hurt her as part of their intervention, but it quickly turns into a grocery list.
  • In Arthur, Francine and the Brain are fighting, so Arthur and Buster write fake apology letters to try to get them to make up. When Arthur delivers his to the Brain, the Brain reads it and yells "This isn't an apology, it's a list of demands!" as the letter is just a list of toys and dolls preceded by "I want." Arthur quickly realizes that he wrote the letter on the back of his little sister's Christmas list.
  • Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot: When demonstrating his telepathy machine (moment before a freak accident turns him into a giant spider monster), Dr. Neugog starts to prove it works by listing some of another doctor's groceries from reading his mind; Milk, eggs, corn flakes, "And don't forget the ointment for your rash, the itch is driving you batty!"
  • In one episode of Bonkers, Pickel gets Bonkers' cold, causing worries about bad side effects of a human suffering a toon disease. Bonkers' doctor provides them with a list of bizarre and barely legible possible remedies that Pickel gets subjected to over the course of the episode, all of which involve food, such as soaking his feet in chicken soup while putting lettuce on his head. After the disease goes away naturally with no issues at the end of the episode, it turns out that the list of remedies was actually a grocery list (chicken foot soup, head of lettuce...)
  • Brickleberry: Woody's grocery list gets stuck in a book of black baby names in "Aparkalypse".
    Malloy: Bacardi? Listerine, arugula.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: Most notably in "Good Times, Bat Times" when Winifred pulls this out instead of the list of magical items she needs for her brew.
  • Chowder: In "Hey, Hey It's Knishmas", Mung Daal gathers Chowder and Shnitzel to go over his plans for a Shmingerbread House, but ends up grabbing the wrong papers twice in a row. The first time, he pulls out a Fan Disservice pin-up of Truffles, his elderly wife, which freaks out both Chowder and Shnitzel. The second time, he grabs an embarrassing photo of Shnitzel in the shower, much to the latter's anger.
  • The Critic: Subverted through overuse — When Jay Sherman's Iraqi captor intends to hand him anti-American propaganda to read on live television, he ends up giving Jay a letter to the Urkel fan club, a personal ad, and an invitation to a kegger.
  • The Danger Mouse episode "The Aliens Are Coming" has Colonel K reading the wrong side of a message received from outer space: "Two pints, please, and small cream."
  • The villain in Darkwing Duck's "In Like Blunt" is beaten when he tries to auction off a list of spy information but Darkwing manages to swap it with a chocolate chip cookie recipe. The supervillain audience is not amused.
  • DuckTales (1987): In the final scene of "Spies in Their Eyes", Donald's commander gives him his court-martial papers, which he eagerly tears up, while his commander gives Scrooge contracts to build 20 more submarines. Unfortunately, it's then revealed that the Commander gave Scrooge the court-martial papers by mistake, meaning that Donald had actually torn up the contracts, much to Scrooge's fury.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy's Dad has a bucket list he keeps inside an actual bucket. When he first tried to read it to Timmy, he instead picked up the bucket's receipt.
  • Family Guy:
    • Subverted in the episode "Brothers and Sisters", where Cloudcuckoolander Mayor Adam West is getting married to Lois' sister, Carol, and they're saying their own vows:
      Adam West: Milk, butter, cat food, those new potato chips in the snack aisle, beer, deodorant, garbage bags, toothpaste...
      Carol: Adam, I think that's your shopping list.
      Adam West: No, these are my vows. They're all the reasons why I'll always love you.
    • Inverted in the episode "Amish Guy". Quagmire reads what is implied to be a list of women he has slept with, thinking it is his food journal.
      Quagmire: Today I ate Peaches, Honey, Candy, Ginger, Olive... you know what? This is the wrong list.
  • Fantomcat: In Episode 6, "The Mind Leech", Vile the Bluebottle attempts to get a secret formula from Professor Oliphant with the titular object, but he ends up getting his shopping list instead. Needless to say, Marmagora is not happy.
  • Freefonix: In "Back by Unpopular Demand", BCD are recording a new song. One of the takes is ruined when The Ditz accidentally starts singing a Chinese take-out menu rather than the lyrics of the song.
  • In one Goof Troop episode, Goofy was obsessed with writing poetry, and all his poems were spectacularly bad. When he picked a poem at random, it later turned out to be his grocery list... and it won. To be fair, it rhymed.
  • In "Pig Puts on a Show" from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Moose is made the director of a play of The Three Little Pigs. After assigning who will play the pigs, he pulls out a piece of paper and declares "And The Big Bad Wolf will be played by... Tomato!"
    Moose: Oh, sorry, that's my shopping list.
  • On one episode of Inspector Gadget, the Once an Episode reading of the exploding mission document was completely thrown off the rails by Chief Quimby accidentally handing Gadget his grocery list. The assignment still did explode after Gadget read it, of course.
  • In "The Balance" of Justice League Unlimited, Hermes comes to deliver a message from the Gods that Wonder Woman has to go to Hell and free Hades from Felix Faust. However, the scroll he hands her is actually a personal ad; "I think I have a shot. It's her cell number."
  • The Kids from Room 402: Freddy once accidentally brought his mom's grocery list to school, rather than his homework, and didn't realize his mistake untill Miss Graves started to read it out loud in front of the class.
  • Used a few times in Kim Possible:
    • In Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, Drakken plays "the trading game" with bad guy Big Daddy Brotherson and initially receives the man's grocery list.
    • In the first episode of the fourth season, Professor Dementor drops his list at one location, making it easier for Kim and Ron to find him in the next.
    • In another episode of the fourth season where Drakken keeps his plans on 3x5 cards, he mistakenly says that after remembering his foolproof plan, they bowl with the henchmen, indicating his cards are out of order.
    • In yet another episode, Ron writes a love poem to help Wade impress Monique. When Wade starts reading, it turns out to have been Ron's biology report. Ron then realizes he turned the poem in for his report (it gets an A+).
  • League of Super Evil: When Voltar realizes the potential benefits of never becoming tired, one of his first evil plots is to "make Macaroni Salad."
  • The Loud House: Episode "Party Down", when Leni bounces for Lori's party, Lincoln points out that her "guest list" is actually a grocery list. Leni being Leni, she immediately laments that this means feta cheese isn’t coming.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In "Backwarder", Ladybug hands over the medical prescription to Adrien; her own letter for Adrien to Lenoir; and Master Fu's letter for Lenoir to the pharmacist.
  • My Gym Partner's a Monkey: In "The Citronella Solution", one of Jake's future predictions was "Buy Bananas", before realizing he was just reading the insides of his eyelids.
  • An example shows up in an episode of Phineas and Ferb when Major Monogram is relating to Agent P a list of suspicious items that Doofenshmirtz has purchased. As soon as he reads off "blood sausage", he cites this trope word for word.
    • Made more amusing by the fact that, given some of Doof's prior schemes, blood sausage wouldn't have been outside the realm of possibilities.
    • The hybrid list idea is done with "big laundry".
    • This trope was also partly responsible for thwarting one of Doofenshmirtz' schemes. While using an -inator that moves objects to a random horrible location, he mixes up his "horrible location" wheel with a "dry cleaning wheel" which exists for... reasons he can't recall, and zaps a party into his pants.
  • On the Australian claymation series Plasmo, at one point one of the alien bounty hunters who teamed up with the protagonists successfully talks the Team Pet through disabling a malfunctioning system on their spaceship, only to realise after success that he was actually reading the instructions to their new toasted sandwich maker.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: At the beginning of the "Aesop & Son" segment "The Eagle and the Beetle", Aesop has Junior hand him the scroll the fable was written on. When he starts reading "This form must be filed on or before April 16th", however, he realizes that Junior gave him his income tax form.
    Son: Oh, I'm sorry, Pop. (Hands Aesop the right scroll)
    Aesop: Ah, yes, this is it. The Eagle and the Tax-dodger...(stutters a bit before looking to the camera nervously) The Eagle and the Beetle.
  • The Rocketeer: In "Sitti's Visit", Cast-Iron Chef steals a list of ingredients Kit's Mom bought for the Bulldog Cafe and mistakes it for a recipe. He's called out for believing a recipe would use such a big amount of yeast.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Cape Feare," Sideshow Bob writes a list of his diabolical plans in his own blood and ends it with "Buy corn holders". Then he starts writing a letter to "Life in these United States" before passing out.
      "Use a pen, Sideshow Bob!"
    • Subverted when Bart and Milhouse were left in charge of Comic Book Guy's store, Milhouse read out his instructions (chocolate malt balls, doughnuts, etc). Bart dismissed this as his grocery list, but no, it was indeed his instructions.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Sonic's Song", when Robotnik gives Scratch and Grounder the coordinates to where they're supposed to attack;
      Grounder: [reading from paper] Single, 700-pound villain looking for suitable companion...
      Robotnik: [embarassed] Whoops, uh, wrong paper, give me that. [snatches paper back]
    • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Spacemageddonocalypse", instead of giving Knuckles instructions on how to operate his Solar Convergence Device (with pictures), Tails accidentally gives him his shopping list, leading to this line;
    Knuckles: Milk, tomatoes, tail conditioner? These instructions are more complicated than I thought!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Bucket Sweet Bucket", Plankton manages to successfully open the safe in Mr. Krabs' office containing the Krabby Patty secret formula. But, as Plankton finds out, Krabs knew better than to leave the formula unguarded while he was on vacation.
      Plankton: The secret formula is — One bottle of molting lotion, take passport photo, get new safe, travel size?! This isn't the secret formula! It's a to-do list!!
    • From "One Krabs' Trash":
      SpongeBob: Oh my Gosh! A floating shopping list! Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!
      Mr. Krabs: I'm not a shopping list... [turns paper over] I'M A GHOOOOOOOOOST!
    • SpongeBob reads his to-do list: "Let's see... go to work, go to work, go to work, go to work. That isn't right. I need the one for Sunday!"
    • Another one has SpongeBob reading from a book for a seance, but is actually reading the ingredients for a bottle of mustard.
  • Strange Hill High: In "Snoozical", Becky hands Miss Grackle what she thinks is the sheet music for her audition:
    Becky: Can you play this for me, please?
    Grackle: No.
    Becky: Why not?
    Grackle: It's the owner's manual for an electric tin-opener.
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: When Dudley goes undercover to learn one of Snaptrap's plans, he finds this, and thinks it's in code.
  • The very first episode of VeggieTales ends with this. When Bob and Larry ask Qwerty to provide the biblical quote for the episode's lesson, Qwerty accidentally provides a recipe for Meatloaf instead.
  • Happened to Woody Woodpecker when he was presenting the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, reading from his shopping list instead of the list of nominees.
  • In "Yes Monkey" on WordGirl, the Mayor does this when he pulls out the wrong note card for a prepared speech in presenting yet another key to the city to WordGirl and Captain Huggyface.


Video Example(s):


Mad Time Party

When Chief Quimby gives Inspector Gadget’s plan for city hall, he first gives him his grocery list.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / OhWaitThisIsMyGroceryList

Media sources: