So let's say you're a kid, and you really like Cupio Bars to the point where you'd eat them for every meal if you would, but your parent(s) or guardian(s) won't let you. They insist that you have a varied diet with a base of four food groups (and not one of them is the kind you'd like to be considered part of the base). Luckily, though, you are allowed some Cupio Bars for a treat, but your consumption of them is limited. And even worse, they're keeping a whole supply of Cupio Bars around and you are not allowed to have any without their permission. So what do you do to sate your craving without getting in trouble? You wait until they're asleep or busy, or otherwise presumably unable to catch you in the act of sneaking snacks! The particular snack that the child is sneaking can be anything, as long as it is made clear that they really want it so much that they're willing to risk getting in trouble in order to attain it illicitly.
Sometimes, the kid manages to get away with it, but it is more often that the child is caught by their parent or guardian and subjected to punishment. In the case of the latter scenario, it is usually used to teach An Aesop about the immorality of stealing and violating parental trust. Sometimes the character who is Sneaking Snacks is an Adult Child who is trying to do his without his or her parent or even their spouse knowing. If it is an Adult Child, it is even more likely that (s)he will be caught because no matter how much comedic potential a scenario involving an actual kid doing this has, it cannot be nearly as funny as an adult behaving like a naughty child and being caught in the act by an angry authority/parental figure. Bonus points if the Sneaker is punished or reprimanded in a similar way that an actual child would be for added comic effect. In cases where an adult is doing this, contrast Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, where a child is trying out disturbing things associated with older ages.
Trust us, we all know how prevalent this is. Anyone who claims that they never did this is most likely either lying or else their family didn't have any desirable foods in the house. Therefore, we ask that you don't post any Real Life examples unless they're especially interesting and aren't repetitions of examples already posted in the media namespaces.
- Tubby did this in Episode 4 of the Little Lulu anime, with apples, bananas, sausages, crackers, and potato chips, which he then hides in different areas of the woods.
- In the classic version of Chutes and Ladders by Milton Bradley (it's now made Hasbro) the top of one of the chutes has a kid attempting to retrieve cookies from a high-up shelf. (An older version of the game has a girl sitting on a boy's shoulders to get to the cookies) At the bottom of that slide, however, they appear to have broken the cookie jar. This is actually the longest chute in the game — #87 to #24. Mention of that particular chute is made in the commercial for the game.
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Mercy stuffs snacks into her handbag at Wiktoria Fries' birthday party. This makes Lexi wonder if she's paying Mercy enough.
- In the film version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the Weasley brothers notice a bowl full of baked goods on the table when they arrive home with Harry. Assuming their mother is asleep, they whisper to each other, "Let's sneak some" and do just that. However, their mother is indeed awake and she pops up out of nowhere and angrily asks them where they've been. Realizing that she's seen them holding the contraband snacks, the Weasley siblings guiltily put them away. However, she doesn't say anything about the snacks. Justified, however, because she was worried about their safety and the possibility that they would get in trouble with the Ministry of Magic, compared to which Sneaking Snacks is small potatoes by any standard.
- Full Metal Jacket plays this for drama as a weeping Leonard Lawrence is forced to eat a stolen jelly donut while the rest of his platoon does push-ups.
- On "Something's Cookin'", the cartoon that opens Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Baby Herman sees the cookie jar atop the refrigerator and crawls up the kitchen counter and into harm's way. Herman easily evades danger, while the frantic Roger takes all the lumps.
- The "break the cookie jar" trope can be found in the 1969 educational film "Drugs Are Like That", a movie they used to play in elementary schools back in the early 1970s. A little girl retrieves some cookies from a high cupboard shelf, whereupon a disturbing "what if?" scenario follows. Here's a clip of the scene in question for anyone who's interested. (this is Part 2; the cookie scene starts 1 minute into the clip)
- Subject of a joke in Die Hard, when one of the "terrorists" sets up his police-ambush station behind a shop counter, and snitches a candy bar.. after looking around to make sure no one's watching.
- In Miss Congeniality, Gracie Hart is found by her beauty pageant trainer sneaking donuts underneath her dress.
- Maya Angelou describes in her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings how she and her older brother Bailey would steal various delicious food items from the Store that their grandmother owned. So this particular example is Truth in Television as well as literary.
- There are references to this in Gaudy Night.
- Harriet is visiting her Oxford college and reminds a staff member that she recalls the woman's habit of leaving the buttery door unlocked at night. The woman indulgently smiles and notes that young women have healthy appetites.
- Later, the topic is mentioned again as a reason to initially dismiss the sounds of someone moving through the college after dark, thereby allowing some cover for the author of the poison pen letters and vandalism.
- Very darkly played out in Life As We Knew It. When Miranda, the heroine, goes into the pantry, she sees the bag of chocolate chips that she bought months earlier in there, she gives in to hunger as well as chocolate cravings and starts eating some. Her mother catches her and makes her eat the whole bag. Then she tells Miranda that she isn't allowed to eat for the next day or the day after that. The End of the World as We Know It has happened, though, and therefore, unauthorized sneaking of any kind of food cannot be condoned or encouraged if the family is going to survive.
- In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, the lunch snacks start disappearing and Greg starts thinking that his older brother Rodrick is doing it. He hides in a laundry hamper to find out who's doing it and discovers that his dad is the culprit. It turns out that he's doing this because his New Year's resolution turns out to be more than he bargained for.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter's overweight cousin Dudley is put on a diet and at one point, he gets in trouble for attempting to sneak sweets into the house.
- Aunt Petunia insists that the entire family follow the diet so Dudley won't feel singled out, which Harry gets around by having his friends send him sweets and snacks and hiding them in his room.
- The punishment that the Trunchbull deals to Bruce Bogtrotter for supposedly stealing a slice of her chocolate cake in Matilda is used to show just how sadistic she is to great effect. She schedules an assembly during which she sits Bruce down at a table and puts the rest of the cake in front of him for him to eat. Poor Bruce is expected to eat that 18-inches-in-diameter monstrosity in its entirety, even if he gets sick. And every child attending Crunchem Hall is watching him eat and feeling sorry for him as they wait with bated breath for him to break down from the effects of forced over-eating.
- In The Great Brain at the Academy the priests who run the Catholic Boarding School Tom and his brother attend forbid all candy. Tom thinks this is silly, so he sneaks out after lights-out weekly to buy candy bars from a local drugstore to sell to the other boys at the school for double price. Towards the end of the book he and the head priest have a conversation during which the priest explains why they have the ban.
- In Cherie Bennett's young adult book Life in the Fat Lane Lara gains over 100 pounds in just a few months. Her mother thinks she's just eating too much and sneaking snacks, but Lara denies it. It turns out she has a rare genetic disorder that makes her gain weight no matter how little she eats or how much she exercises.
- On one of the early The Simpsons shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, Bart steals the cookies Marge made, calling it "the perfect crime". They find him later on the floor with a tummy ache, moaning "There is no perfect crime."
- On Diff'rent Strokes, Arnold gets caught sneaking in a powdered doughnut after all junk foods are banned from his house.
- In an episode of Necessary Roughness a football player keeps failing his weight checks despite being on a strict diet. Everyone thinks that he is sneaking snacks while no one is looking but he vehemently denies it. In the end footage from a nanny-cam reveals that he is sleep eating. The stress in his life has gotten so bad that he is sneaking snacks while he is sleep walking and is not aware of what he is doing.
- In The Odd Couple episode "The Fat Farm", Felix talks Oscar into joining him at a weight-loss retreat he attends every year. Outside food is not allowed, but Oscar manages to sneak in a number of items from a deli nearby. Unfortunately for him, Felix can identify every one by smell...as well as the can opener Oscar brought.
- In Fortune Summoners The Rival, Colm, sneaks snacks on a school trip (since they were only allowed to bring a certain amount with them) by hiding them in his water bottle.
- Beyond: Two Souls: An amusing example in the "My Imaginary Friend" chapter, where little Jodie can have Aiden use his telekinetic powers to get her a cookie from the jar on top of the fridge after her mom told her no.
- Kris of Deltarune is noted to do this, with their mother resorting to locking up her chocolate to keep it from them.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid has Greg Heffley hide in the laundry hamper to find out who's been stealing the lunch treats and discovers that his dad is the thief.
- wikiHow provides this guide on How to Sneak Candy Into Your Room, directed toward teenagers.
- So many parenting forums have had members post about their children doing this that it would be easier to make a list of these where no one has ever brought it up!
- In The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Skorca!", Private is on lookout duty and is warned not to eat sugary snacks. He brings along a box of peanut butter Winkies, assuming that he can restrain himself. He eats the whole box and goes on a sugar high, during which he sees a giant killer whale flying through the streets (actually a balloon float), which the others dismiss as a Winky-induced hallucination.
- On Kung Fu Panda, Shifu is surprised to see the uncoordinated Po perform athletic feats in raiding the pantry. To test him, Shifu points out Monkey's secret cookie stash on the topmost shelf. Within seconds, Po was balancing himself on the shelf, gorging himself.
- The Simpsons: Homer does this sometimes, like the time he spent all night eating 64 slices of American cheese. Or in the Treehouse of Horror episode where he sold his soul for a donut - but the contract doesn't take effect until he eats the whole donut so he keeps the last bit in the fridge with a note: "Daddy's soul donut - do not eat." Then late at night he eats it. "Mmmmm, forbidden donut."
- In one episode, Comic Book Guy, a character who's gluttony sometimes overshadows even Homers, tries to sneak food into a movie theater. The ushers frisk him, and find he's got damn near half a fridge hidden in his clothes. He just disdainfully tells them they'll never find it all no matter how much they search him, and that he's "baking cupcakes as we speak".
- An episode of American Dad! involves Stan sneaking the cookie dough that Francine specifically told him not to eat. Hilarity Ensues when Francine berates him for committing Parental Incest with Hayley and Stan thinks she caught him stealing the cookie dough.
Stan: Okay yes, you caught me, but can you blame me? It's just so sweet and tasty!
- A Jimmy Neutron short involved Jimmy Neutron trying to sneak a cookie from the cookie jar and being caught by his mother, who scolds him at first, but relents and says he can have just one little cookie. The short revolves around his usage of an invention that enables him to attain multiple cookies.
- In The Smurfs episode "Gormandizing Greedy", Greedy is caught sneaking around a pie underneath his Smurf hat.
- Dexter's Laboratory: The episode "Muffin King" revolves around Dad trying to get his hands on Mom's newly baked muffins, a treat he is completely obsessed with, and he ends up coming up with a ridiculous Batman Gambit to get his hands on one after Mom recruits Dee-Dee and Dexter to keep him away from them.
- The Dragon Prince: Ezran often sneaks jelly tarts from the kitchen, even using the castle's secret passageways for this purpose.
- There is a children's game that revolves around finding out "Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar?" that goes something like this:
Group: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?
Accuser: (name of a child in the circle) stole the cookie from the cookie jar.
Accused: Who, me?
Group: Yes, you!
Accused: Not me!/Couldn't be!/Wasn't me!
Group: Then who?
Prev. Accused (now Accuser): (name of a child in the circle) stole the cookie from the cookie jar.