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Real Men Hate Sugar

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Grandma: But, what am I going to do with all these fresh-baked cookies?
SpongeBob: Ah, ha, ha! Sorry, grandmother. We adults don't partake in the consumption of sweets.

This cultural phenomenon is common in (but not specific to) Japan. Sugar and sweetness are culturally coded as childish and feminine, while any other flavor is mature and manly. Boys may scorn sweets in public to be accepted as a man among men.

Complementing this is the stereotype that women do like sweets in general and chocolate in particular, and the trope in which a heartbroken young woman turns to ice cream is well-known. One suggested origin of this mindset is the sweet taste of mother's milk and its association with infancy and being looked after.

If a Japanese male character's love of sweets is portrayed as a positive trait, it may be to make him seem cute and innocent, and In Touch with His Feminine Side.

Even in Japan, this is only true in some social contexts, but it is generally assumed that women like their sweet stuff sweeter and more elaborate.

In Western contexts, this stereotype only applies in regards to alcoholic beverages: "real men" drink cordials and sweet liqueurs only occasionally if at all, avoid fruit mixes (except perhaps fresh lemon or lime, or "classic" mixes involving fresh fruit juice), and never consume any mass-marketed sweetened alcoholic drinks (i.e, wine coolers, alcopops, and other "girly drinks"); no, a real man relishes in the harshness and bitterness of his whisk(e)y/brandy/rum/vodka/gin/tequila and especially beer. Less often, coffee and tea are seen as more masculine if unsweetened (or if too hot to taste). Energy drinks usually avoid this association despite containing hidden sugars. It may also be applied to a few other foods, like lots of chilli pepper being regarded as manly.

Contrast with Sweet Tooth and Girls Love Chocolate. See also Genius Sweet Tooth for men who need sugar for brain power, and Donut Mess with a Cop for men in law enforcement needing sugar for those long stakeouts and arduous paperwork.

Subtrope to Age-Stereotypical Food and Drink-Based Characterization. See also Real Men Eat Meat.

Has nothing to do with Hitler Ate Sugar.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Anpanman: Currypanman, the toughest of the superhero characters, hates sweet foods. This becomes a bit awkward for him when he saves the day during Valentine's Day, leading the girls he saved to give him tons of chocolates he has no intention of eating.
  • Black Bird (2006): Kyo hates sweets to the point that he almost becomes nauseous from a taste of ice cream, but he still forces himself to eat the cake that his girlfriend Misao made.
  • Blend-S: Discussed in Episode 2, when a customer to Cafe Stile, after seeing Maika and Mafuyu's gigantic parfait special on a menu, says he'd be too embarrassed to order this if Stile wasn't a Cosplay Café, and orders it. Extra points for the fact that these customers probably don't count as "real men."
  • Case Closed: Fatally invoked in a filler episode, where the local male sweet-hater who doubles as a Jerkass is killed when his coffee is laced with poison, with the only available antidote being placed in a cake's icing (which he wouldn't eat for obvious reasons). The killer also poisoned a half-eaten bar of chocolate and switched it with one that was given to the victim as a Valentine's gift by his would-be girlfriend, in an attempt to frame said girl since the murderer knew the victim would take a bite of his chocolatey "enemy" to please her.
  • D.Gray-Man: Completely averted with Skinn Bolic, The Brute and "Wrath" of the villainous Noah family led by the the Millennium Earl, and the one with the Hair-Trigger Temper. He is utterly obsessed with sweets, earning the nickname "Sweet Tooth" from one of his family members. When he was served a boiled egg during a family meeting with the Earl for dinner, he went into an Unstoppable Rage and proceeded to ruthlessly beat and tear apart one of the Akuma (who are unwilling Slave Mooks) who served him for not following his orders to make it sweet.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • While Goku and Vegeta are exploring the insides of Buu, Vegeta expresses disgust at the abundance of sweets and total absence of meat in Buu's stomach.
    • We once see the Crane Hermit/Tsuru-sennin getting upset when his student interrupts him in the middle of eating an ice cream parfait. Although the Tsuru-sennin is quite strong, the trope is likely being invoked to demonstrate how immature he is.
  • FLCL: This is not only used but is in fact a major plot point to show Naota's immaturity, by the fact that he hates spicy and sour food. The series starts with Naota saying "I don't like sour stuff" and his later opening-up to previously disliked drinks highlights his budding maturity. This also extends to Amarao who also loves all things sweet and hates spicy and sour foods, showcasing to the audience his immaturity as well. At one point Amarao makes some kind of speech about how sugar gives you energy and it's natural to like sweet things, all while overfilling a cup of tea with a ridiculous amount of sugar cubes. He's trying to sound deep, like his supposed immaturity is really some big conspiratorial secret, but... well, it's Amarao.
  • Fruits Basket: When Kagura tries to present Kyo with chocolate for Valentine's Day, he makes a big deal of how he's too manly to like sugary food. Shigure then rags on him by saying that the truly manly thing to do would be to suck it up and eat the chocolate rather than break a girl's heart by rejecting her gift.
  • Future GPX Cyber Formula: Bleed Kaga does not like foods that are too sweet. In 1 episode he eats dark chocolate with no problems, showing that it’s not a dislike of chocolate. His big opposites are Henri, Asuka, and surprisingly Gudelhian
  • GJ-bu: Kyoro, who is hardly a "real man" but a defeatist Nice Guy that the girls found harmless, once stated he didn't care for "real coffee" because it was too bitter, and prefers the over-sweetened canned coffee instead. He was immediately called "little kid" by Mao.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: Very averted by Turkey, a very manly-looking Boisterous Bruiser who adores sweets. Justified by how Turkish cuisine gives a lot of importance to desserts and all kinds of pastries.
  • Gintoki from Gintama averts this, to the point his doctor told him he would get diabetes if he didn’t cut down on sweets. He’s also shown to be quite strong when the show does action scenes.
  • Jewelpet:
    • Jewelpet Happiness: Izumi Taira will loudly declare how much he hates sweets when offered some and gulp down incredibly bitter drinks. This is because he's desperate to be seen as manly, being a short and cute-looking boy (especially for his age) with a feminine first name. Unusually, his ostensible dislike of sweets is portrayed as immature instead of the other way around, and his character arc is only complete when he stops denying himself things that he likes independently of whether that makes him seem manly or not.
    • Lady Jewelpet: Subverted. When Momona offers Cayenne some of her cake, Lillian scoffs that Cayenne hates sweets and will surely turn her down. Cayenne eats it with no problem and seems to enjoy himself.
  • Kekkaishi: Gen can't stand anything sweet. This makes him a foil to Yoshimori, who aspires to be a prodigious baker and bake a cake castle for Tokine.
  • Moonlight Fromage: The main character is turned from an Eroge-loving 15-year-old boy into an adorable 15-year-old girl and transported from modern Japan to an alternate Elizabethan Europe. His caretaker is an absolutely moe teenage Tsundere who tends to cook with a lot of sugar. He initially pretends to like her sweet-tasting creamy spaghetti, but after spending a month or so as a girl, eventually grows to actually like it.
  • My Hero Academia: Inverted by Rikido Satou, who becomes even manlier when he eats sugar since his Quirk gives him super-strength by when he does so. On top of that, cake is his favorite food and he's an excellent baker, with a little kitchen in his dorm room so he can make cakes and pastries whenever he needs them.
  • Naruto: Sasuke hates sweets, which may be a result of growing up too fast (or trying too hard) after seeing his family murdered before his eyes. This didn't seem to be the case before the massacre. His Aloof Big Brother Itachi's hobby is listed in the data books as visiting sweet shops, and it says that he loves sweets, especially dango. Make of that what you will.
  • New Game!: Invoked, and Gender Inverted in the first episode. When asked what to drink when Aoba's reporting to her new job, she thought since this is her first job, she's an "adult," and would rather have black coffee than orange juice. She ends up hating the black coffee
  • Nobunaga no Chef: Ken (a chef time-displaced from modern Japan) chuckles a little on realising that the terrifying warlord Oda Nobunaga has a sweet tooth, finding that it humanises him a little. Natives of the era don't seem to attach any particular significance to it, however.
  • Nurse Angel Ririka SOS: Ririka tries to give Seiya cookies, however he refuses and says he doesn't like cookies. He is presented as more masculine than the Bishōnen Nozumu and Long-Haired Pretty Boy Dewey.
  • One Piece: Zoro doesn't care for chocolate, saying it's too sweet. Word of God says that Zoro's least favorite food is ice cream. But since he's seen eating ice cream during the bar scene in Dressrosa, one reader brought this up during one of the manga's SBS. Oda tries to (jokingly) handwave this by stating that it wasn't Zoro who ate the ice cream (Zoro was in disguise).
  • Otomen: Intentionally invoked — Asuka tries to order bitter, salty, and/or sour foods (for example, having his coffee black) in order to appear more manly. He actually does prefer sweets, though, and loves to bake cookies and pastries (although he tries to hide that too). His Masquerade is so strong that girls in his class naturally assume he wouldn't want to try their cookies. His tomboyish girlfriend Ryo on the other hand likes hot and spicy foods and will gleefully order them though she doesn't hate sweets either.
  • Ouran High School Host Club: In a flashback, Honey tried to stop liking sweets in order to seem more manly, but it didn't work (and only highlighted his Moe qualities to the girls around him). In contrast, his brother Yasuchika despises sweets. Subverted, since Honey is still the stronger martial artist of the two despite indulging his love of sweets.
  • Ranma ½: Hardcore martial artist Ranma Saotome is an inversion of the trope in a setting that plays it straight; he personally loves ice cream, but would not be caught dead saying he does, much less going to restaurants and ordering it. Fortunately, he is able to turn into a cute girl when he comes in contact with cold water. This "curse" allows her (remember, she's a girl when she does this) to openly and gleefully order chocolate sundaes with a cherry on top in public; heck, she even uses her cuteness to scam free ice cream off the young and impressionable clerks!
    Akane: If you like ice cream so much, why don't you go get it as a guy?
    Ranma: Us guys don't do that! Those are girls' desserts!
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed: one of Anything, Inc.'s clients is a baker, and Shima complains about having to meet him at his pastry shop, which is frequented by teenage girls. APP tells him to quit whining and deal with it. Interestingly, it's the baker's female love interest who really dislikes sweets. She didn't want to hurt his feelings by telling him, but fortunately, he had already figured it out by the time she came in to confess and had gotten around that obstacle by making her a chicken pot pie.
  • The Secret Agreement: Subverted when it seems like Kyuusei rejects all sweets because of this and is subtly teasing Yuuichi for being unmanly. It turns out he was being literal about not being able to eat sugar as it actually kills people from their clan, and Yuuichi is only abnormal because he doesn't react to it until later in life.
  • Skip Beat!: Shou dislikes anything that's too sweet, but claims to the public that he'll eat anything. This causes trouble when Mimori makes lunch and includes an eggroll that's too sweet. He tries to discreetly throw away the sweet parts, but his childhood friend Kyouko (who knows he doesn't like sweets but is holding a grudge against him) silently pressures him to eat the whole thing since Mimori worked hard to make it. Unfortunately for Kyouko, this helps Shou figure out who she is.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Played with. Juuzou's love of sweets is used to demonstrate his childish nature and lack of concern for social norms. In contrast, Koutarou Amon is also well-known for his love of sweets and is essentially a paragon of masculine virtue.
  • Toriko: Averted spectacularly where the titular character who lives in a house made of sweets, him eating it is a recurring problem. Also, more than one of the dishes he prepares in the series are desserts and he treats them with the same respect as the savory ones.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-: In Outo, Kurogane complains about Fay "forcing me to eat that awful, sweet junk! In the morning!!" Syaoran, on the other hand, thought the food was delicious. And it should come as no surprise that Fay himself cheerfully averts this trope.
  • The World God Only Knows: The Capturing God Keima Katsuragi hates sweets in any form, though he tried to overcome it when eating Elsie's cake (for her own sake).
  • Yowamushi Pedal: Subverted in one anime omake where Naruko and Onoda go to a coffee shop and Onoda is amazed at Naruko having his coffee with no sugar. The latter mentions this trope by bragging that real men have their coffee black. Then Onoda goes to the bathroom and Naruko immediately asks the shop lady for milk, as the coffee is too bitter.

    Fan Works 
  • A more gender-neutral "adults prefer bitter drinks" example occurs in RWBY: Scars when Willow teases her teenage daughter for preferring sweet red wine over bitter wine. This is subverted a few chapters later when Willow decides to quit alcohol. She gets tempted to drink but is disgusted by how bitter the wine is.
  • Downplayed in If I Could Start Again. Steve Rogers hates modern sugary foods but it's mostly due to him being from a time when sugar was rationed and very hard to come by as a result. He has no problem with naturally sweet foods like fruits, but anything with added sugar is too sweet for him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the finale of Kindergarten Cop, John Kimble is visibly gagging at the taste of gelatin that the orderlies fed him as he lies bedridden in hospital. His visiting partner points this out to the nurse.
    "What are you doing, feeding him Jell-O? Tough guys hate Jell-O!!
  • Averted in Pulp Fiction. The Wolf wants his coffee with "lotsa cream, lotsa sugar."
  • At the beginning of Sudden Impact, Dirty Harry is alerted to a robbery by the waitress dumping spoonfuls of sugar in his tea, causing a Spit Take. He later confirms that he hates sugar in his tea, and the waitress knew it.

  • In one of the books in The Baby-Sitters Club series when Nicky Pike and Buddy Barrett refuse to eat cookies after having been teased for attending a "girly" sewing class.
  • In A Brother's Price, Keifer Porter tries to invoke this by telling young Cullen that his man parts will fall off if he eats too many cookies. (Cullen finds out he was lying, and, it can be assumed, happily continues to eat as many cookies as he wants to.)
  • Averted in The Outsiders. The main characters are Greaser Delinquents who thrive on looking "tuff", but Ponyboy and his brothers have a mean Sweet Tooth. They love chocolate and chocolate cake.
  • According to Bruce Fernstein's book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, not only do Real Men stay away from quiche, they never eat desserts of any kind, if it can be avoided.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, the gender division between Vorin men and women extends to them being forbidden from even eating the same types of food. Generally speaking, men's food is savory, and women's food is sweet. One of the protagonists mentions that he once snuck some women's food out of sheer curiosity, but found it much too sweet.
  • Averted in True Grit by Rooster Cogburn. Trigger-happy as can be, he still loves his honey-cakes.
  • The bounty hunter Marks Twickum from Uncle Tom's Cabin has a fondness for mint julep and fruit punch over whiskey and brandy, which is listed alongside giggling sadism and a scrawny, corvidian appearance. It's treated with the gravity as a character from the '50s who doesn't like milk on his cereal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Raj Koothrappali notoriously prefers sweet drinks and is occasionally subjected to ridicule by friend Howard Wolowitz.
  • Gunpei in Engine Sentai Go-onger, though he will try to eat Saki's cake.
  • In How I Met Your Mother this is commented on in several episodes, with the cuddly (but archetypal good boyfriend) Marshall upset that he can't have pink drinks with fruit in them or go to brunch by himself because they're considered 'girly'.
  • Matt Kennedy Gould from The Joe Schmo Show is disgusted by the taste of chocolate. One challenge forced him to lick chocolate off of a woman's body. He spent half of the challenge choking and gagging at the taste.
  • J.D. in Scrubs has the same proclivity towards sweet drinks, and is frequently mocked by other characters.

  • A more unisex variant is brought up in the Pokémon: The Birth of Mewtwo radio drama. Mewtwo asks Ambertwo what cake and milk are after telepathically seeing a researcher eat it. She replies that cake is something sweet that adults usually dislike but children love.

    Video Games 
  • Averted by Richard in Another Code. His Trademark Favorite Food is chocolate, making it one of the few things he and his daughter Ashley agree on. He even has a desk drawer full of chocolate bars at work.
  • A lot of characters in Blaze Union have trouble eating candy and even some kinds of fruit because of how sweet they are, but this isn't limited to just the men — Medoute, Sleip, Eudy, Emilia, and Baretreenu hate sweets, too. Comically, the loud and proud manliest man of the party is a Sweet Tooth.
  • Gaius in Fire Emblem: Awakening is basically a big "screw you" to this trope. He loves sweets, he makes his own sweets, many of his dialogue pieces mention sweets (even his love confession, in the English version of the game), and not only he's unashamed of it, but he's never seen as unmanly due to this trope. (At most, people are concerned about his health.) The crowning example of Gaius' sweet tooth: Chrom manages to get him to join the team... by letting him keep a bag of sweets he was carrying!
  • Fire Emblem Fates:
    • The very manly Hoshidan Ninja Saizo swears by the trope itself and seems to even feel somewhat ill whenever he smells something sweet. Ironically, Saizo can potentially fall in love with Sakura, a Hoshidan princess who adores sweets... and no matter who he marries, his son Asugi will be completely candy-addicted, as the good Gaius expy (and possible reincarnation) that he is.
    • Meanwhile, Hayato tries to invoke this trope in some of his supports to make himself seem more mature. However, it's subverted, as he actually does have a Sweet Tooth.
    • Also, Rinkah plays with this trope a bit; while not a male, she, like Hayato, tries to hide her Sweet Tooth to make herself look stronger. Kaze knows and gives her candy to tease her despite her saying no.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Felix doesn't like sweet things. It isn't portrayed as an attempt at manliness, he simply doesn't care for it. It brings him into conflict with Lysithea who loves sweets in their supports together. She makes it her mission to make him a cake he'll actually enjoy. She eventually succeeds.
  • Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons:
    • Harvest Moon: A New Beginning has Neil, whose Horror Food is Cake. It's later revealed this is because his mother overfed him sweet things and he got sick of it.
    • Most characters in Harvest Moon: Animal Parade like sweets, especially cookies. The manliest men, Dale, Hayden, Calvin, and Owen, either hate cookies or hate pudding. Several are very fond of cocktails though.
    • Story of Seasons (2014): In contrast to the girls loving chocolate and the children liking sweets, a good portion of the men (young and old) do not like desserts at all. Chocolate Cake is Maurice and Kamil's most hated food, Kamil doesn't like any desserts at all, and men like Klaus, Gunther, Jonas, and the very gruff sprite Gusto also despise sweets. Fritz on the other hand quite likes sweet snacks—but this may be because he's somewhat childish.
  • The King of Fighters: Completely averted by the very manly Maxima, who openly mentions his love of sweets and ice cream. Not to mention, he needs these sweets to function since he triples as a Cyborg, a Technopath and a Genius Sweet Tooth — he must use his brains on a regular basis, and since glucose is the "fuel" for the brains...
  • King's Raid has two major aversions.
    • The resident Ax-Crazy Half-Human Hybrid Ezekiel, in spite of what his violent nature and muscular build would suggest, likes caramel pudding and sweet drinks.
    • Crow, whose poker face and physique make him as manly as you would expect from a former naval officer, is commonly found with a candy cane.
  • Invoked and then subverted in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Due to Professor Saguaro looking like a typical Manly Man, most of the academy students assume he hates sweet things, with some even saying that he must love spicy food instead. In reality, Saguaro has a huge Sweet Tooth, but he tries to hide this in order to avoid letting his students down. He also actually hates spicy food. His side stories involve him accepting his Sweet Tooth with the player's help.
  • In one scene in Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Inspector Chelmey professes to hate sweets with such fervor that even the sight of them makes him nauseous, demanding that the serving boy get rid of the tea-cakes he's brought out. This turns out to be a key hint in exposing him as Don Paolo in disguise when Layton and Luke find a newspaper article which casually mentions that it's a widely-known fact that the famous Inspector Chelmey loves his wife's sweet potato fritters.
  • Rune Factory:
    • Averted with Rusk in Rune Factory 3, who loves any and sweets. His father Blaise is this to a lesser extent, some of his favorite food gifts being ice cream and hot chocolate.
    • Discussed in Rune Factory 4, in a way. Flan and ice cream are among Vishnal's favorite foods, and he asks the main character if they're childish. Played straight with Dylas, who hates sweets to the point where he gets offended if the main character gives him a cookie on Valentine's Day.
  • Tales of Vesperia: Raven. Ironically, he admits in a skit he knows how to bake sweets and did so to impress girls.
  • Leon in Tales of Destiny asserts this mindset whenever around the immature Stahn. Leon's favorite food? Flan served to him by his maid.
  • Averted with the Heavy in Team Fortress 2. One of his edible healing items is called the Dalokohs Bar. It's a bar of chocolate and there's no hint whatsoever that it's not sweetened.
  • Averted in the Super Mario Bros. series. Bowser, Mario's manly Arch-Enemy, loves Peach's cakes, to the point that getting a giant cake was part of his motivation in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Meanwhile, the equally masculine Wario's favorite food was originally crepes, before it became garlic in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, but he still likes sweets, enough that his story in WarioWare: Touched! begins and ends with him getting a toothache from gorging himself on pastries.
  • In The World Ends with You, how much a character likes a food affects how well its status effect works, with the characters helpfully reacting with a soundbite of their reaction. Beat, The Big Guy, resident Dumb Muscle, and easily the manliest of the playable characters reacts with outright disgust when the player tries to give him things like crepes and ice cream, while the other boys tend to be fairly ambivalent about them.

    Visual Novels 
  • Tomoya of CLANNAD admits that he doesn't really like sweets at all, in contrast to most of the girls, and especially Mei. This suits his more manly, but also more pessimistic and depressed outlook compared to the brighter, happier views of his love interests and friends.
  • Discussed in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu, a Yakuza heir, admits to liking sweets in one of his Free Time Events, though Hinata has to guess his favorite food (fried dough cookies) before he'll fess up. He hides it because he worries that liking sweets makes him look childish and unmanly, a problem he already has due to his small stature and young-looking face.
  • Parodied in Higurashi: When They Cry, where Keiichi is able to blackmail a star pitcher into throwing the game to the Hinamizawa home team by threatening to out him as a closet Sweet Tooth.
  • Yuichi of Kanon openly expresses that he hates sweets, and is delighted to hear Akiko's "special jam" doesn't taste sweet... until he tastes the jam in question.
  • Akira is unambiguously one of the strongest and most masculine characters in Spirit Hunter: NG, and 'sweet things' are listed as a dislike in his profile. Naturally, his favourite food is chicken.


    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • "Men's Pocky," which is coated in substantially less sweet dark chocolate, the stick itself being made slightly bitter with unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • Herrenschockolade (literally "Gentleman's chocolate") is a German type of very dark and bitter chocolate. The term was invented back in the 19th Century when people still thought of chocolate as being only suitable for women and children.
  • In the 1990s, Coors Brewing Company released a clear alcopop beverage called Zima. It was marketed as a masculine alcoholic beverage for men who didn't like beer. The marketing did not work: most of the people who drank Zima were women in their 20s and among men, it became the butt of jokes as guys who drank it were portrayed as being girly men.
    • The same song and dance is still being done with Zima's dozens of successors like Mike's Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice, except that despite the aggressive marketing to men (especially for Mike's) and consumption mostly by women, these have been more successful overall.
    • Smirnoff Ice has also managed to make some inroads with male consumers in recent years due in part to the memetic drinking game "Bros Icing Bros", although the trope may be in effect if one believes the game is a way for insecure guys to publicly enjoy the drink while still getting to pretend like they don't.
    • Unlike the heavy use of this trope in Japan, Japan is the only country where Zima is still sold on a continuous basis, and completely devoid of the gender stereotypes seen in the US.
  • The Roman army listed "confectioners" among the professions it disapproved of for prospective recruits.
  • Very much Truth in Television for a lot of men in the bodybuilding and fitness communities, as consumption of processed sugar has been linked with lowered testosterone levels and retards muscle growth.
  • This is a selling point for Pepsi Max in the UK, which was created largely cause some found regular Pepsi too sweet but wouldn't drink Diet drinks due to them being seen as unmasculine.