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Overcomplicated Menu Order

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"Oh, what, I have to be an employee to haze the rookie?"

"I bet that when serious heroin addicts go to purchase their heroin, they do not tolerate waiting in line while some dilettante in front of them orders a hazelnut smack-a-cino with cinnamon sprinkles."

A character makes an order in a restaurant or cafe that is so ludicrously complicated it'll be a wonder if the waiter/barista/cashier can remember half of it. This is frequently used to show pretentiousness on the part of the one making the order, though Rule of Funny is often just as likely an explanation.

This is done particularly often with espresso beverages, custom cocktails, and food with overly-precise details, although incidents of the character ordering off the menu also count. It frequently involves Hash House Lingo and/or Sommelier Speak for extra convolution.

See also Must Have Caffeine, Drink-Based Characterization, and Real Men Take It Black. May be a trait of an Unsatisfiable Customer. Compare Complexity Addiction which has a similar theme, but with plans instead of food/drink. Compare and contrast Cordon Bleugh Chef when it's the chef that likes to be overcomplicated (and with often disastrous results).



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  • Depending on your opinion of the intelligence of the workers there, an old Burger King ad from 1974 could count.
    "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce
    "Special orders don't upset us
    "All we ask is that you let us serve it your way"
  • An ad for Dunkin' Donuts from about 2007 has a Take That! jingle from They Might Be Giants (and narrated by John Goodman!) aimed at Starbucks, complaining about the long streams of gratuitous foreign-sounding gibberish in its drink orders:
    Is it French? Or is it Italian? Perhaps Fritalian?
  • Nabob coffee has an ad spoofing this trend in coffee orders by applying the same logic to an order at a hot dog stand
  • An Australian ad for online banking services (the idea being that your job is confusing enough without having your banking also being complicated) has a restaurant owner dealing with a series of increasingly bizarre customer requests, ending with one asking for poached eggs with the yolk on the outside, and another if she can take the sour out of the sourdough.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Nichijou, after Yukko fails miserably at ordering off the complicated new coffee list, she invites Mio to the same coffee shop to watch her fail, but Mio flawlessly recites one of these.
  • Invoked by Set in an episode of Oh, Suddenly Egyptian God, visiting Horus' restaurant and trying to trip him up with an overly long and excessive order, repeatedly canceling and un-canceling requests for menu sets. Horus manages to complete everything in time with the help of Otter.
  • In the first series of Ojamajo Doremi, Doremi gets one of these at her first apprentice witch exam, which is to conjure up whatever is requested by the examiners. She doesn't pass.

     Comic Books 
  • In one of the D.R. & Quinch stories from the comic book series 2000 AD, D.R. wants to appear eccentric at a fancy restaurant and so orders four dozen lobsters, wearing Prussian Blue waistcoats. Then when they're delivered, he complains that the waistcoats are Turquoise Blue, "and where are the chocolate-covered ant's brains?"

    Comic Strips 
  • Crabgrass: In the header panel for this comic, Miles makes such an order when his mom is preparing burgers. She is clearly not amused by his request, promptin him to remark that that attitudes like this are the reason most restaurants go under in the first year.

     Fan Works 

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera, Groucho, playing the shady social consultant Otis B. Driftwood and operating solely along the lines of the Rule of Funny, orders two to three portions of what seems to be everything on the menu in an illogical way, punctuating his selections after each item with an order for "three hard-boiled eggs" for the stowaways hiding in his stateroom.
  • Casino Royale (2006) (the Daniel Craig version) puts a twist on the usual James Bond martini by having him order one consisting of: "Two measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice and add a thin slice of lemon peel." And after four of the other people at the table decide they want one too, Le Chiffre sarcastically wonders aloud if anyone's interested in playing poker instead of drinking. This is also a Mythology Gag to a specific scene in the books. Bond's order is recreated exactly, right down to the waiter's pleased expression (although by that point Kina Lillet hadn't been made in 20 years, which makes it even harder).
    • Inverted later in the film. Bond orders "a martini", the waiter asks "Shaken or stirred?" and Bond replies "Do I look like I give a damn?"
  • Jack Nicholson's character in Five Easy Pieces wants an omelet with wheat toast. The hostile waitress refuses to accommodate him, so he orders his omelet with no potatoes, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, "hold the lettuce, hold the tomato, hold the mayo. And hold the chicken salad."
  • The restaurant scene in L.A. Story has the people at the table order espressos of escalating length, with Harris topping them all (and setting the rest of the table telling the waiter to add a twist of lemon to the orders they've already made).
    Harris: I'll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon.
  • In Tampopo there's a scene where a bunch of businessmen visits a French restaurant. Each person defers up the ladder of seniority until the CEO of the company orders (something bland and safe for people new to French cuisine, as I recall.) Each person down the chain of command promptly orders the same thing—except the most junior executive. He turns out to be an expert on French food, and makes a complex order that thrills the waiter, but embarrasses the heck out of everyone else.
  • Inverted in Dude, Where's My Car?, when the boys place a fairly straightforward drive-through order and the worker complicates it by repeatedly asking "And then?"
  • Good Burger:
    Connie: Hello, my name is Connie Muldoon, I'm hosting a family reunion and my oven has run amok! I think it's the heat actuator. Anyhoo, I'd like to order... *Speech increases the more she talks* Three Good Meals, four Junior Good Meals, a seventeen-piece order of your Good Chunks, and on two of the Junior Good Meals, I need to substitute the Good Cookies for Good Pies. Now don't fret if that's extra, I'll pony up the overage. And, uh, oh, on the regular Good Meals, I need two of the Good Burgers to have ketchup, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, but no onion, I've got an interview this afternoon. Let's see, that takes care of everyone but Uncle Leslie who doesn't eat meat but, of course, he does eat dairy, so I don't get it. Let's get Leslie a Good Chickwich with some Good Fries, and a Good Root Beer all to go. But I would like to have my beverage while I wait. Now, total me up.
    *Ed experiences a Heroic BSoD*
  • In When Harry Met Sally..., Sally's Establishing Character Moment is this order in a diner:
    Sally: I'd like the chef salad, please, with the oil and vinegar on the side. And the apple pie a la mode. But I'd like the pie heated, and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side. And I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it's real. If it's out of a can, then nothing.
    Waitress: Not even the pie?
    Sally: No, then the pie, but not heated.
  • Get Shorty: While sitting in a restaurant, Karen explains to Chili that celebrities will also order something that is not on the menu, and then leave without eating it. On cue, Martin Weir enters, orders an omelette made entirely on egg whites, has a brief conversation with Karen and Chili, and then leaves before the omelette arrives.
  • In Tin Men, BB and Tilley, two aluminum siding salesmen, have been in an Escalating War ever since they got into a car accident. At one point in the movie, Bagel (BB's boss) and Sam (Tilley's partner) try to get them to bury the hatchet by taking them out to breakfast. However, BB becomes so frustrated at Tilley taking so long to order breakfast (specifically, in asking the waitress how the eggs are cooked) that he ends up starting the feud back up again.

  • Comedian Tim Hawkins had a wife list one of these when a husband asks his wife "what she wants" at Starbucks (view it here).
    Wife: All right, here's what I want. Listen. Listen; this is what I want. I want a tall, skinny, sugar-free, decaf soy vanilla latte, extra hot, whipped cream, double sleeve, no cup.
    Husband (turning to clerk): Please tell me you got that!
  • A Russian joke: A man walks into a bar and orders a cocktail:
    Give me a Yabba Dabba Chillie Willie Rum & Whiskey Bowfinger, cool, shaken, not stirred, with a slice of lemon!
    Excuse me, sir. I couldn't hear you clearly. You said you want a Yabba Dabba Chillie Willie Rum & Whiskey Bowfinger, cool, shaken, not stirred, with a slice of what exactly?
    • (This is a variant of a joke about a Japanese Tourist in Russia asking a cop about where he could find a coke)
  • A variation on the theme is the joke where a customer rushes in, places a long and confusing order, says he'll be back for it in ten minutes... and just after he leaves, the clerk, who has a Speech Impediment, finally gets around to asking what they want.

  • When Kate wants to discharge herself from the hospital in The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul and isn't allowed, she convinces the hospital they want her to leave by attempting to get a pizza delivered, something she knows is impossible in London. At one point she tries to get a motorbike courier firm to order and collect "an American Hot with a list of additional peppers and mushrooms and cheeses which the controller of the courier service refused even to attempt to remember".
  • In one of the first chapters of Patient Zero Ledger's friend and psychiatrist Rudy asks him to bring him some coffee to their meeting. Actually, Rudy is a nice guy and very sensible, it's just that he has some very specific taste in coffee.
    Rudy Bring Starbucks.
    Ledger Sure, what do you want?
    Rudy My usual. Iced half-caf ristretto quad grande two pump raspberry two percent no whip light ice with caramel drizzle three-and-a-half-pump white mocha.
  • Artemis Fowl: Artemis is a 13-year-old Man of Wealth and Taste, so when a server offers him Age-Stereotypical Food in The Eternity Code, he icily counters with a sophisticated and precise order — down to the composition of the ice cubes — that leaves her wondering if he's a centuries-old child vampire.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • A Running Gag is Sheldon being very specific on how he wants his food prepared. It was also done once with Leonard's mother.
    • In the episode where Sheldon decides to work at the Cheesecake Factory in order to let his mind work on a physics problem, Leonard gives him an extra-complicated order in revenge for all the times Sheldon did it to him. Sheldon understands and doesn't hold it against him.
  • In the TV show version of Clueless Cher and Dee have a favorite restaurant to go to for lunch period, which has "the best" Chinese Chicken Salad - which they order without the chicken or dressing. They basically pay $12 for a bowl of lettuce.
  • A real-life example from Kitchen Nightmares has Gordon Ramsey going to Sebastian's, the owner boasting of his "special menu." It's about eight pages long with the diner having to order at least a couple off of each category and mixing them up. In a priceless moment, Sebastian explains it all as the camera focuses on Gordon just staring at him in utter disbelief.
  • In an episode of Cheers Diane convinces Sam to let her be the bartender for the evening rather than just being a waitress. An order comes in for a Bloody Mary, a particularly complex mixed drink. Naturally, Diane doesn't know how to make it so she looks it up in a bartender's manual, taking a long time to make sure it's just right. As she finishes, she remarks that it is a complicated drink. Sam agrees, which is why he always mixes up a big batch before the evening starts and stores it in the mini-fridge behind the bar.
  • Zig-Zagged in an episode of Frasier where, before Martin gets to the coffee house (Martin being a more down-to-earth food kind of person) Niles orders him a biscotti "but when you bring it to the table call it a cookie." The waitress dutifully brings it, only for Martin to correct her. "Thank you, dear, but it's called a biscotti."
    • Niles orders his overly complicated coffee drinks with a "whisper of cinnamon." And his steak order must be seen to be believed.
    • There was also one episode with an Overly Long Gag about the baristas shouting relay orders to each other (when they're all standing within three feet of each other) and Niles orders a "nonfat, half-caf, low-foam latte," and then begins to worry that the order is being altered as it gets relayed through the chain, even though the person actually making the drink is well within earshot of Niles himself. To the mortification of Niles, he gets exactly what he ordered - under the title of a "Gutless Wonder".
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Craig orders one of these at the restaurant where Reese works and tells him to listen carefully as he doesn't want to waste calories by repeating it.
  • In an early Sesame Street skit, Ernie asks an ice-cream man for a Chocolate, Strawberry, Peach, Vanilla, Banana, Pistachio, Peppermint, Lemon, Orange, Butterscotch ice-cream cone. Amazingly enough, the ice-cream man delivers! But Ernie is inconsolably P.O.ed because the cone was prepared upside-down. Watch it here.
  • The Spoils of Babylon "The Age of the Bastard": While Devon cannot get a vegetarian option at the steakhouse that somehow fits in the tiny submarine, Cynthia's order just gets more and more complicated.
    Cynthia: Oh, and another thing?
    Waiter: Yes, ma'am?
    Cynthia: Ah, yes, could I have a carafe of tomato soup, two turkey legs
    Waiter: Very nice.
    Cynthia: I'd like some cold cereal with some hot milk, two pots of tea, and a white wine in a coffee mug with a little bit of salt in it.
    Waiter: Okay, salt in it.
    Cynthia: Thank you so much.
    Waiter: Very good. Thank you.
    Cynthia: Thank you. Oh, and one more thing.
    Waiter: Yes?
    Cynthia: Could I have a cotton blend napkin? Sometimes when you iron out the regular napkins, they're too itchy for my thighs.
    Waiter: I understand.
  • Portlandia includes a sketch in which a starving couple wander into an overly gourmet burger joint and are exhausted by the barrage of options they're forced to navigate just to order a simple burger. They're then forced to start over because the menu changed while they were ordering.
  • On an episode of Roseanne, during Roseanne's stint as a waitress at Rodbell's she has a customer order a BLT with the ingredients in a very specific order only to end up asking for "everything on the side, cause you won't do it right". Roseanne, who just found out this is the woman Dan's been having dirty dreams about, laments that not only is she cute, but has a great personality too.
  • One episode of the Disney show Hannah Montana had the protagonist's brother ordering coffee in a diner. He rattles off one of these, to which the waitress just replies "...Coffee?". He just says "Yes please." in response.
  • Piper in Charmed goes above and beyond, giving the waiter specific instructions for how the chef should prepare the fish she orders. As her date points out, it comes with the territory, what with her being a professional chef herself.
  • The West Wing: in the second season episode "The Lame Duck Congress", Toby goes out to lunch with Fowler and Fox, two political insiders who will tell him important information about a crucial vote. Toby knows what he's in for when it comes to them ordering food ("You've never seen grown men order lunch like this"), but it irritates him all the same:
    Fowler: I'll take the risotto, but I'd like it cooked with chicken broth instead of oil, is that possible?
    Waitress: Sure.
    Fowler: And I'd like to substitute snow peas for the asparagus.
    Fox: I'll have the same, but I don't want the squash pureed with either cream or butter. In fact, it doesn't even have to be pureed-
    Toby: Fellas!

    Magazines and Newspaper Columns 
  • Discussed at length in the Dave Barry column "Decaf Poopacino," as a source of immense frustration for people who need plain ordinary coffee to wake up in the morning. The column takes its title from its subject, the world's most expensive coffee obtained from the excrement of a tropical weasel. It also contains this quote, which speaks for itself:
    "These consumers are always ordering mutant beverages with names like 'mocha-almond-honey-vinaigrette lattespressacino,' beverages that must be made one at a time via a lengthy and complex process involving approximately one coffee bean, three quarts of dairy products, and what appears to be a small nuclear reactor."
  • A now-discontinued column in the Raleigh, NC newspaper the News & Observer once complained that Starbucks should institute a separate line for folks who just want regular coffee.
    • One Deadpan Snarker replied if the complainer wanted regular coffee, they should just get their own coffee pot.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Done a few times in Zits. One strip observes that the more complicated the coffee order, the more high-maintenance the girlfriend.
  • FoxTrot:
    • Peter Fox, while making a real complex order at a coffee shop (which ultimately translates back to 'a cup of coffee' once the jargon is stripped away), is charged $1.97, to which Peter pays $2.00 and tells him to keep the change. He also admits to Jason that he realizes he was being annoying, which was why he tipped him. Cue the three pennies flying towards his head.
    • Roger inverts this trope, thoroughly confusing the barista when he asks for a "regular cup of joe."
  • In Pearls Before Swine, Rat is sometimes seen working at a coffee shop where customers make such complicated orders. His responses are usually along the lines of "I heard 'Blah, blah, blah, coffee.'"

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius: From the Twitter of Othar Trigvassen:
    We can't just walk out, and I'll bet the garbage and mortuary wagons are routinely inspected. This calls for desperate, unsavory measures.
    Chez Leon, one of the best restaurants in the city. The Master dines here frequently. Oslaka is puzzled. Didn't we just eat? Indeed we did.
    The waiter and I spend twenty minutes discussing our meal choices. I demand only the freshest and most exacting dishes. He almost smiles.
    The meal is brought. It' a masterpiece of presentation. The chef himself appears and compliments me on the suggestions I made. He weeps.
    He waits for me to eat. I hesitate, and then ask for a bottle of ketchup. We are tossed out the city gates less than 3 minutes later.
  • xkcd orders exactly $15.05 worth of appetizers, expecting the waiter to figure out what quantities of which items to serve in order to reach that number. The joke is that the costs listed on the menu just happen to mean that the waiter is being asked to solve a complex mathematical problem. Though in this case, you could just solve it with 7 orders of mixed fruit.
  • Narbonic uses it for humor derived from Caliban's old job in Hell and his modern job in a Starbucks.
    Caliban: ERIC! Get your arse back in line, or when your order comes up I will see to it that your medium nonfat soy vanilla burns your flesh to the very core!
  • Questionable Content:
    • When Cossette starts working at Coffee o' Doom, Angus (who doesn't even drink coffee) orders "a half-caf soy no-foam latte, not too hot, with a shot of vanilla and a dusting of nutmeg, fresh-ground only, please. Make it a medium, but put it in a large to-go cup." His explanation for doing this is "Oh, what, I have to be an EMPLOYEE to haze the rookie?"
    • When Emily starts working there, Faye says she has to take "the test":
      Faye: Make me a ... quad venti upside-down caramel macchiato, 4 splenda, 3 raw sugar, 187 degrees exactly.
      Emily: That sounds dumb and bad. I'll make you a nice espresso instead.
      Faye: Well done, you pass.
    • This is in keeping with Faye's previously expressed belief that people who order stuff like this don't actually like coffee. "I want a mocha with extra chocolate, whipped cream, and someone to hold my hand while I drink it!"

    Web Original 
  • Not Always Right:
    • One entry involves a guy ordering a complicated drink and then bullying the barista when she got confused over it.
    • For as an inversion, the guy who orders a cheeseburger without cheese and gets angry when the cashier responds "okay, one hamburger."
    • From one of the sister sites, Not Always Working, the boss in this story has found a clever way to deal with these customers- making a bet with the employees that if they're ever able to make a drink in less time than it takes the customer to order it, the boss buys them all dinner. This works like an absolute charm, much to the submitter's bemusement when a barista is ecstatic for one guy's several minute long order. The barista manages to make the drink in under the time, earning cheers from the rest of the staff (and implied annoyance from the customer that there was nothing he could complain about).
  • From Uncyclopedia, we have the Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet'N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ice.
  • The McDonald's Drive Thru Rap from YouTube (made even worse when rapped at full speed):
    I need a double cheeseburger and hold the lettuce don't be frontin son no seeds on the bun we be up in this dive thru order for two gotta craving for a number nine like my shoe need some chicken up in here in this dizzle for rizzle my nizzle extra salt on the frizzle Dr.Pepper my brother another for your mother double double super size and don't forget the..... FRIES
  • The even longer Pizza Rap Order, is a minute and a half of rapping.
  • David Sirlin once wrote a KFC Combo FAQ, carefully describing how to minimize or maximize questions from the cashier. Starting your order with "I'd like some chicken" and acting as clueless as possible turns a simple order into a 21-question interrogation.
  • The video Europe vs. Italy, which shows the difference between Italy and the rest of Europe, has a sketch showing a bunch of random Europeans note  ordering from a coffee shop simply saying "cafe". While the next shows a bunch of Italians each ordering a very specific and complicated order.
  • Rhett & Link's Coffee Order sketch parodies this, with the two requesting increasingly strange and obscure ingredients for their orders, such as the coffee shop's soup of the day, three seconds of sunlight, and another patron's glass eye. After the two leave, the next customer, who is very clearly dressed to rob the place, takes pity on the barista and just orders a water.

    Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Pickles", Bubble Bass makes an order using a string of complicated Hash House Lingo. Squidward gives up trying to write it all down about halfway through, and dryly replies "We serve food here, sir." Luckily, SpongeBob overheard and has the order ready seconds later.
    • In "Bubble Buddy", SpongeBob asks Squidward to make a meal for his bubble buddy at Krusty Krab, which is not just overly specific but has to be remade several times (it'd be hard to go to the details). And at the end, Squidward and Mr. Krabs are given bubble tips and money... which pop, infuriating the two.
    • Bubble Bass is subject to this trope once again in "Larry the Floor Manager". He asks for very specific toppings on his Krabby Patty, such as Himalayan salt, smoked paprika, and micro greens. He takes so long to describe it he starts to drive customers away, prompting Mr. Krabs to shove a regular Krabby Patty into his mouth and kick him out.
  • In an Orson's Farm/US Acres segment of Garfield and Friends, Roy tries to take advantage of an offer of free food for a month at Orson's new diner by ordering outrageous items, including moose stew with chocolate sauce and broiled yak's nose with green gravy.
    Roy: I'd like an alligator-cheese sandwich made with cheese from an alligator named Cynthia, I want it with lettuce grown in Northern Bolivia and picked on Memorial Day, I want it served on rye bread with exactly 71 caraway seeds per slice, and I want a pickle in the shape of Muncie, Indiana.
    Orson: Very good. One #8!
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Cupcake Job", the Bears get jobs at a gourmet cupcake store. They quickly run into trouble, including a bossy business-woman who makes a complicated order that leads to Grizzly accidentally breaking the cupcake-making machine.
  • Blainely does this in song in Total Drama World Tour: "Get me a half-fat, no-foam latte, steamed to 102 heat! I'm quite specific."
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016): The Fashionista villain Bianca asks for a "non-fat almond milk, skinny double-chai latte". This is later downplayed as the almond milk isn't just for the joke. "Monkey Love" gives a Call-Back by revealing that Bianca is lactose-intolerant.

    Real Life 
  • The 2010s Urban Legend of "secret menus" at chains like Starbuck's and McDonald's encouraged this. You can't just ask for some fictional menu item you saw on the Internet and expect employees to know how to make it, so in practice, it's no different from a complete custom order—and they could get fairly complex.


Video Example(s):


Bubble Bass' Order

Bubble Bass' order is so utterly complex and indecipherable that Squidward downright gives up trying to write it down.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / OvercomplicatedMenuOrder

Media sources:

Main / OvercomplicatedMenuOrder