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Series / Good Eats

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"Science. It tastes good, don't it?"
— Episode #EA1H16: "A Taproot Orange"

Good Eats is a truly original and groundbreaking approach to the Cooking Show, and an example of what can happen when cable networks have narrow specialties.

Hosted by Alton Brownnote  — also the show's creator, executive producer, writer, and director — the show took inspiration not only from its cooking show predecessors, but from gonzo kids' Science Shows like Beakman's World and Bill Nye the Science Guy, Good Eats blends informative lessons on cooking techniques and ingredients with comedy, chemistry lessons, field trips to factories and labs (a la Mister Rogers), special guests, and Sitcom zaniness.

This combination proved to be a hit and the show became a cultural touchstone during its original run from 1999 to 2012, becoming the longest-running consecutive series on Food Network at the time and still rerunning ad nauseam on cable. Brown released a series of companion cookbooks at this time, including a three-volume compendium of episode guides and recipes subtited The Early Years, The Middle Years, and The Later Years.

In 2018, Brown announced that Good Eats would return to the air on the Cooking Channel. To warm the audience up for the new round of shows, he revisited some classic episodes with updated techniques and approaches in Good Eats: Reloaded. The revival, titled Good Eats: The Return ran from 2019 to 2021, with the final season becoming a web-exclusive available only on discovery+. When it concluded, Brown announced that it was the definitive end of all Good Eats-branded programming.

Because of the zany, "Edutainment" nature of the show, you will find a lot of tropes not otherwise found on cooking shows. A. Lot.

This show contains examples of:

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  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Sometimes called "AB-speak" on the show, Alton likes launching silly salvos of wacky wordplay whenever he's got the gumption. Alton lampshades this in Season 7's "True Brew IV: Take Stock" and Season 11's "Sub Standards" where he claims he doesn't do it while he's doing it.
  • Affectionate Parody: "Scrap Iron Chef" is a playful riff on Iron Chef (with elements of Scrapheap Challenge). The most obvious poke comes at the accusation that Iron Chef is biased against the challengers: all of the Scrap Iron Chefs have perfect win records, and Alton suffers a Crack Defeat despite the fact that the judges said his opponent's food tasted like crap.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: While the "holographic" sushi chef from "Wake Up, Little Sushi" is not actually evil, he is a bit of a jerk.
    • Subverted in The Stinger of the episode, where the "holographic" chef is shown to step out of the virtual reality chamber, suggesting the chef wasn't actually a hologram.
  • Anchovies Are Abhorrent: Alton explains about nam pla (fish sauce), which is basically the East Asian answer to Worcestershire sauce. Both are made by fermenting anchovies, and both are damn near immune to spoilage once the fermentation process is complete. (The main difference is that nam pla doesn't typically use as many spices as Worcestershire does.) Nam pla smells strong right out of the bottle, but does mellow as it cooks.
  • Animesque: The "history lesson" animations in "Fry, Tempura, Fry!", appropriately enough.
  • Animated Adaptation: Not of the show itself but of Alton, who made an appearance in a DVD extra for season 3 of the FX series Archer. He's supposed to help the titular character prepare the Eggs Benedict variation Eggs Woodhouse, but ends up in a massive brawl that destroys Archer's newly renovated kitchen.
  • Ascended Fanboy: The house of Mike Menningernote  has appeared on the show, and he himself is acknowledged at least once on Alton Brown's blog.
  • Author Tract:
  • Bad Boss: Certainly not in real life, but some episodes portray Alton as this.
    • The first ice cream episode, "Churn, Baby, Churn", has him making his nieces and nephews work an old-fashioned hand-cranked ice cream machine.
    • "Down and Out in Paradise" has him get stranded on a desert island because his crew deliberately tries to leave him behind on a sinking ship.
    • Another episode, "Tortillas Again", has his crew actively on-strike.
    • "Pop Art", the show's popcorn episode, shows him under a boulder-sized popcorn kernel. Upon the scene ending, the crew goes to lunch without helping him out from under this piece of popcorn.
  • Binomium ridiculus: Most of the time, this is averted, as the show often gives the actual scientific name of ingredients (e.g. Brassica oleracea for cabbage...and broccoli...and Brussels sprouts...and much else). However, from time to time, a fake name will be given to a manufactured ingredient (e.g. a cheese) or to a highly processed one (e.g. Blackus incanus for sliced black olives in a can).note . This joke was later carried on to Iron Chef America (of which Alton is the host).
  • Blob Monster: A brief scene from "Flat Is Beautiful" shows, using a Ken and Barbie doll, the potential peril of leaving yeasted pizza dough at room temperature for too long. After leaving his pizza dough at room temp on th counter for 20 hours, Ken wonders where the dough has gone. The dough has grown to such an immense proportion, it consumes Ken from behind. Alton finds this scene hilarious.
  • Boring, but Practical:
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Paul in "Mission: Poachable".
  • Brand X: With few exceptions, episodes made after AB's own company took over production in 2001 have brand names obscured or replaced with a nonsense or joke name, even though the label designs can give away the stores where the products were purchased. Older episodes (Seasons 1-4) don't bother, namechecking brands like Ritz Crackers, Clorox Bleach, and Old Bay Seasoning. Subverted in that whatever grocery store AB's shopping in (Kroger in the early episodes, Whole Foods and the Farmer's Market in the later ones; also Bed Bath & Beyond when he's buying kitchen gear) will always be named on-screen; for the last couple seasons, they built grocery-store and laboratory sets to avoid this.
    "Ha! 'Bob's,' only the best!" *referring to a bottle of cognac labeled thusly*
    • Often averted after 2001, though whenever a major company is mentioned by name (Quaker Oats, Campbell's Soup,, it's used as a point of historical reference for a recipe.
  • Brick Joke: These tend to crop up a lot. For instance: When talking about guacamole in a dip show, Alton tosses his food processor out the window stating that it's too powerful to make good guacamole. Later on in the same show, he needs to blend some livers and turns to his food processor... which he threw out earlier, and hence begins to look sad. Thing brings back the food processor and Alton gets happy.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Alton's assistant Paul is usually on the rough side of things, however the actor playing him gets his own back as other characters... like LACTOSE MAN!
    • Alton has his moments too; for example, quite a few episodes involve Alton being railroaded into the subject of the episode, and in others he often gets the food he made taken from him.
    • Nearly every character gets a turn. Even LACTOSE MAN! has it happen to him, in the episode "Say Cheese"note .
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In the flounder episode "Flat Is Beautiful 3", he says of cooking flat fish: "... Which isn't to say that I don't believe in oil or poaching. 'Matter of fact, I like oil poaching."
  • Broken-Window Warning: In the "True Grits" (cornmeal), Alton mentions that grits and polenta are essentially the same thing. He promptly gets a brick through the window with a message saying that he's a big fat liar. Then he gets a chunk of marble through the window, with the exact same message—in Italian—carved into the stone.
    Alton: Well I have to say, this I didn't see coming. Nice marble, though.
  • Call-Back: Several times, Alton has called back to previous episodes regarding recipes and demonstrations he's done before. A few times, he's even replayed footage from those previous episodes.
    • Pretty much the modus operandi for Reloaded, which revisits several older episodes and provides updated information on their subjects.
  • Canis Latinicus: While he does use the actual scientific names for various plants and critters, Alton is not above making up a few such as Greenus Bottlus and Blackus Incanius when describing common olives found in supermarkets.
  • Captain Ersatz: The character of Colonel Bob Boatwright (played by Alton) is an obvious take on Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • Catchphrase: Several.
    • Alton's exasperated "Oh, bother!" Like his preferred tools and implements, this phrase is a multitasker; depending on his manner of saying it and the context, it can range from an expression of supreme frustration to a pained This Is Gonna Suck. This also counts as a Shout-Out, as Alton explained in the commentary from the "A Tale of Two Roasts" DVD:
      Alton: You know, "Oh, Bother," that's from Winnie the Pooh, okay? Some of you don't remember... You wouldn't think that Winnie the Pooh would be a regular reference for me. But I find that Pooh sums up a lot of... He wasn't terribly bright. I'm not terribly bright, either.
    • "It couldn't get any easier than this" was one that popped up frequently in the first season.
    • "Walk away. Just—just walk away." Often said when warning the audience not to fiddle with cooking steps that would seem to invite fiddling.
    • "Your patience will be rewarded."
    • "Golden-brown and delicious."
    • "I said it was good, I never said it was _______." ("Fast" or "low-fat" or "good for you", usually.)
    • "But that's another show." Usually said when Alton mentions something off-topic better reserved for its own episode. Sometimes it's been addressed in a previous episode, but more often than not it wasn't made at the time. (The fans kept track.)
      • Lampshaded in the bread pudding episode where he delivers the line, then tells Thing to write it down. The camera pans over to show Thing writing in a gigantic binder labeled "...That's Another Show". Alton remarks "Wow, that's a thick book." Ironically, this was in one of the last episodes to be aired during the original run. As it happened, at least one of those topics would be covered in Good Eats: The Return.
      • In Good Eats: Reloaded, while reviewing past episodes, when past!Alton says this catchphrase, present!Alton often interjects with "Which we've already made!" if the topic is one covered later in original the show's run.
    • "By weight, please." This is to remind viewers that ingredients like flour and sugar must be measured by weight and not volume. It's also to avoid Unit Confusion, as the weight is often given in "ounces", which could be misconstrued as fluid ounces, a measure of volume.
      • Often inverted, where Alton specifies that certain ingredients should be measured by volume instead of weight.
      • Subverted occasionally as well, since Alton will often mention "X cups—or about Y ounces".
    • "Stuffing is evil." This was coined during the Thanksgiving episode "Romancing the Bird" and thrown back in his face repeatedly in future episodes. He eventually relents and has a stuffing episode, titled "Stuff It", where he shows his way to make turkey with stuffing.
    • "Like the hat?" This one was popularized by a YouTube uploader adding a clip of Alton saying this from the first season episode The Egg-Files after a long obnoxious title card at the start of every episode uploaded.
    • "I'm not a doctor, but that HAD to hurt!" comes up a few times, and not always from Alton; Lactose Man uses it after socking one of Alton's crew in the gut.
    • "You know, I'm really sorry we haven't worked out that scratch-and-sniff TV yet." In later seasons, it morphed to "Ahhh, just smell that _____. Oh, I'm sorry, you can't. That was mean." or some variant.
    • "Now go wash those ____y hands!" Used when working with raw meat and poultry, though in the episode "Beet It", he did admonish the viewer to go wash their "beety" hands since beet juice is notorious for causing stains.
    • Especially toward the end: "Of course, I make my ___ from scratch, but I'm a freak, and we all know it."
    • "...(and that's) not good eats." Used sometimes when describing the consequences of a potential cooking mistake.
  • Cavemen Versus Astronauts Debate: Alluded to many times, for regional differences in clam chowder and toast, different cooking methods, etc.
  • Characterization Marches On: Chuck was originally a quirky butcher. Over the course of the series he became more of a job-hopping Cloud Cuckoolander who knew so little about meat that he didn't know what pot roast is.
  • Christmas Episode: There are at least four:
    • "It's a Wonderful Cake" (fruitcake).
    • "The Cookie Clause" (sugar cookies)
    • "The Cookie Clause: Reloaded" (gluten-free sugar cookie batter).
    • "'Twas the Night Before Good Eats" (various Christmastime foods).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The characters played by Steve Rooney mostly disappeared after Brown left Means Street Productions (at which Rooney was employed as their executive chef) to start his own company, Be Square Productions, at the end of season four. Rooney's Mad French Chef, one of the most frequently recurring characters in the early seasons, only appeared once more after he left, in the form of a nightmare-induced puppet voiced by Brown.
  • Cold Opening: Every episode starts with this. In the first few seasons, this led to a a Title Drop that preceded the title card. In later seasons, Alton stops just before the Title Drop, which then cues the title card.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: Parodied Trope. In an early episode, Alton gets fed up with the bad products marketed by Cocoa Carl and teaches the viewers how to make their own chocolate brownies, hot cocoa mix, and other chocolatey treats. At the end of the episode, a newspaper claims Cocoa Carl has been put out of business and jailed for embezzlement. Then, in a later episode, when it comes time to tackle energy bars, Alton visits Cocoa Carl in prison to learn what kinds of unhealthy chemical preservatives Captain Power has been loading into his Protein Pucks. The whole scene is a spoof on The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Attempted, but failed. When Dungeonmaster steps out of line, Alton tells him to go skim the moat. Dungeonmaster takes it as a treat, and takes out his lucky straw.
  • Cool Car: When discussing bread pudding, he mentions that the best comes from England. When later using the analogy of a car to describe the proper components of a bread pudding, he walks over to a beautiful little English car, a shiny blue BMC Mini, that has somehow found its way into his kitchen.
  • Courtroom Antics: Played off in "The Case For Butter", set at the mock trial case The People v. Butter. AB comes to the defense of the misunderstood dairy product.
  • Cringe Comedy: Pretty much all of "Salad Daze II: The Long Arm of the Slaw". Alton appears as a guest on a fake morning show called "Rise and Shine", featuring two very awkward anchors and loads of cringey situations. Ironically, it's one of the series' worst received episodes; many viewers fail to realize the whole thing is a parody and was made to be cringey on purpose.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Alton has a dim view of "unitaskers" (relatively expensive tools built specifically to perform one task, and only that task) for this very reason. He does not abide them in his kitchen, with the sole exception of the fire extinguisher. He'll generally show alternate methods of performing the same task, either with normal kitchen implements, or by MacGyvering a device using parts from the hardware store. If he does use an item that seems like a unitasker, chances are he'll find another use for it, even if it's another show.
    • As evidenced in "The Alton Crown Affair". In searching for an appropriate cooking vessel for crown roast (basically lamb ribs), he stumbles upon a bundt pan, which he sees as the perfect shape and size for his needs.
    • Alton did eventually show a second use for the fire extinguisher— making carbonated ice cream!
    Alton: Welcome to the world of multitaskers.
  • Crossover: With MythBusters for a Thanksgiving episode in 2012, testing whether or not it's possible to cook a holiday dinner in the engine compartment of a car.
    • Alex Guarnaschelli, one of the frequent judges from Chopped, is featured in "My Shakshuka". Alex even carries her rather harsh food criticisms to Alton's shakshuka dish during the episode's conclusion.
  • Cultural Translation: The "American Classics" episodes, where Alton looks at classic American variations of dishes that originated overseas (spaghetti with meat sauce, tacos, and so on).
  • Curse Cut Short:

  • Delayed Reaction: In "Re-Romancing the Bird", at one point Marsha asks Alton where his cutting torch is. Alton points it out, and continues describing his pie crust preparations until Marsha's words finally catch up to him:
    Alton: ...and half a teaspoon of kosher—cutting torch. Oh, bother.
  • Desert Island: In "Down and Out in Paradise", Alton gets abandoned on one by his crew when they leave a sinking ship without him, so he spends the episode cooking the sorts of things you find on desert islands. Also, it's not really a desert island. It's one of the Hawaiian islands and he's less than a mile from a city, but he has no idea, because he lost his glasses.
    A passing surfer: "....No; This is Oahu! Waikiki over there!...."
  • The Devil: Appears (and gets beaten up) in at least four episodes: "A Pie in Every Pocket"; "Tamale Never Dies"; "Devil of a Cake" (in which he takes the form of a shifty old man); and "Date Tripper".
  • Disney Villain Death: The end of "Mission: Poachable" has the French Chef falling into his own lake of court bouillon in an attempt to prevent Alton from throwing a piece of liver into it. He lives.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Alton will showcase just about any food as potential Good Eats, but the one real exception seems to be basic purple raisins, which he describes as "always optional" as far as he's concerned. He doesn't seem to have any problems with other types like golden raisins, but the purple kind he doesn't seem to like any way besides spiked with rum.
  • Don't Try This at Home: Parodied and played straight, often within the same episode. If Alton is talking about doing something potentially dangerous (such as consuming dishes containing raw meat or eggs, working with caustics, or using burning charcoal inside the house), the Food Police or his "lawyers" Itchy and Twitchy will often show up to stop him, forcing him to find a different (and safer) way to do the same thing.
    • This becomes a Running Gag with raw eggs—while he can usually mention pasteurized eggs and avoid problems, sometimes the Food Police will confiscate the dish anyway...
    • The Food Police also confront AB in the episode "Milk Made" when he mentions raw milk.
    • Subverted in "Celebrity Roast", where scrolling text at the bottom of the screen says "Do try this at home... but be careful, won't you?"
    • In the Season 11 episode "Pretzel Logic", Alton's lawyers stopped him from using lye to brown his pretzels, because lye is poisonous and extremely caustic if handled improperly.
      Alton: Who would have thunk those guys would have a problem with a little 'lye'?
    • Played straight with home distilling, which is both illegal and very dangerous.
  • Doom Doors: The show uses both the door sound effect and the imp's dying noise. Yeah, in a cooking show.
  • Downer Ending: The final episode (set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland) shows Alton with very little food except that which he can grow himself, his sanity long gone, and in the final seconds, the generator providing power to his house/set dies, leaving him in total darkness. A very bleak conclusion to what was an overall lighthearted series.
  • Drop-In Character: Alton's annoying TV sister Marsha (in real life, he's an only child), as well as several real-life experts on food science, nutrition, and nutritional anthropology. The experts show up when needed; Marsha just drops in to force Alton to make her cookies, donuts, soup, etc. Alton also plays some of these characters, such as his Evil Twin.
    • One Running Gag is that nutritional anthropologist Deb Duchon will appear out of nowhere whenever her title is mentioned, leading Alton to joke about how he's being stalked ("... she's back there, isn't she?..."). In later episodes, he'll have an obviously negative reaction to saying the title, and in one case hesitates to say it... but she shows up anyway and says it herself. After a while she started to just show up unannounced, and Alton will grumble that he doesn't even have to say it anymore.
      Alton: (looks into the camera) All right, which one of you said it?
    • Alton actually found a gorgeous replacement N.A. in the episode "Sub Standards" with whom he had no problems sharing the screen, only for the incumbent to shuffle her off the show at the end of the scene.
    • In "Hittin' the Sauce", Deb shows up in a grocery store right behind Alton. Irked, Alton states that nobody brought up the words "nutritional anthropologist"; Deb responds...
      Duchon: Well, we N.A.'s have to shop, too.
  • Dutch Angle: Rare indeed is the episode that doesn't feature at least one such angle, usually from overhead and to one side. They became especially prevalent once the "Good Eats kitchen" set was built, allowing cameras to be placed just about anywhere one could conceivably go.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Carolyn O'Neil, the nutritionist who plays the Lady of the Refrigerator, appeared a few seasons before her character as herself, talking about the health benefits of nuts.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first four seasons (1999-2001) are quite a bit different from the later ones.
    • They were shot on a completely different set, the same kitchen where the pilots were shot in 1997 (the small kitchen with the white-on-white color scheme, which Alton reveals in a behind-the-scenes special is not his actual kitchen/home). Also, the pilots (which became "Steak Your Claim" and "This Spud's for You") were shot on film, not video.
    • The middle seasons were shot in a then-newly built producer's kitchen/home which had been specially constructed with filming the show in mind. However, neighbors kept complaining about the long train of cars and people used for production, so the back third of the show was shot with studio sets made to look like the home. It's easy to tell that the kitchen and living room are just a set and a matte-finish background if you know what to look for.
    • Brand names were never greeked, and the grocery store segments were shot at a local Kroger instead of at the Whole Foods and Farmer's Market used later on.
    • The first season was almost an entirely different show. BGM was used sparingly, if at all, and there was a lot more emphasis on object lessons and field trips than the zany skits of the later seasons. Also, glitches with location recording were common, leading to a lot of obviously looped dialogue. The on-screen text was also in a Totally Radical late-1990s display font (which Alton absolutely hated), something that went away after that season.
    • He also signed off on the first few episodes by saying "Play with your food", but this went away pretty quickly.
  • Elvis Has Left the Planet: Trope name-dropped in the Season 5 episode "The Trouble with Cheesecake".
  • The End... Or Is It?: At the end of the poaching show "Mission: Poachable", the Mad French Chef survives his fall into a boiling lake of bouillon with the words "The End?" on screen. Became an Aborted Arc when Alton quit the production company the actor that played the chef worked at and he didn't appear on the show anymore.
  • Everybody Knew Already: In the episode "Popover Sometime", Alton mentions a "mystery recipe", with a big reveal partway through the episode... except Thing had already revealed twice (in his own way) that the mystery recipe was for popovers. (It also didn't help Alton's case that "Popover Sometime" is a Spoiler Title.)
  • Evil Twin: Alton's "brother" B.A. (played by Alton in "tough guy" clothes and with an attitude). This was actually inverted in "Sub Standards", where it was revealed in the last few minutes that B.A. had played the entire episode as Alton.
  • Eye Scream: Yes, they manage to fit this in on a cooking show (the episode in question is "Coconut Cake Revival"). Perhaps it's only natural if one were to draw eyebrows around the "eyes" of a coconut just before putting a drill to them.
  • Fixing the Game: In "Dip Madness", Alton devises a test to determine if a dish can be called a "dip" or not: if it stays on whatever food that's being dipped into it and does not drip while being pulled across three feet of white carpet. He gives "America's favorite", salsa, a try and purposefully tilts the chip so it falls on the carpet before claiming that it's no surprise since salsa means "sauce" in Spanish, not "dip".
  • Food Porn:
    • Mostly averted, and notable in being one of the only Food Network shows that does. This doesn't mean there aren't plenty of drool-worthy moments, though. Alton specifically says that he prefers to focus on taste and convenience with serving his dishes. He even teased fellow network host Giada de Laurentiis in a Food Network special with "You're one of those people that eats with their eyes, aren't you?" when she insisted on making a nice pretty plate instead of just presenting something in the dish it was baked in. Even so, a lot of the dishes he makes still look mouth-wateringly delicious without any sort of special presentation, One could almost call it the cooking channel equivalent of Hollywood Homely.
    • There are a few times when he plays this straight and mentions small things that can improve how the finished dish would look when presented on the plate, usually with a Hypocrisy Nod following close behind.
  • For Science!: Invoked in "Ginger: Rise of the Rhizome"; Alton convinces his cameraman to try out the Vomitron by saying, "Do it for science!"
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: Episodes occasionally take on the form of a completely different show.
    • "A Case for Butter" is presented as a courtroom drama.
    • "Scrap Iron Chef" is a combined parody of Junkyard Wars and Iron Chef.
    • The coleslaw episode "Long Arm of the Slaw" was set up like a morning talk show on which AB appears as a guest.note 
    • AB did his entire chili show, "The Big Chili", in character as an Old West cowboy... then returned to his kitchen as himself and wondered who had been using it.
    • There was also an episode titled "Mission: Poachable". It's not hard to figure that one out.
    • The tropical food episode was a parody of Cast Away.
    • The two "Water Works" episodes featured no actual cooking, and instead Alton talks about the many facets of water, such as municipal sources, filtration, and the water's chemical attributes.
    • "This Spud's for You, Too" and "Ill Gotten Grains" are Whole Plot References to Stephen King's Misery, with the Loony Fan even resembling Kathy Bates' portrayal of Annie Wilkes.
    • "Frozen Cache" provides strategies on how best to get foods ready for long-term storage in the average home freezer.
    • "American Slicer" focuses on knives, blade preservationnote , cutting boards, and common cutting techniques {although he does present a recipe for gazpacho near the end of the epiosde).
  • French Jerk:
    • The mad French chef from the early episodes.
    • The chefs and waitresses from "There's Fish in My Soup" (about bouillabaisse), who not only tell Alton he can't make the dish properly, but actively try to sabotage his efforts. When he finally does make it, they taste it and declare it crap (despite the fact that they finish the whole thing).
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In the opening for "Feeling Punchy", Alton discusses a bit of the history of punch while standing near a table with a punch bowl. Behind him, a little old lady pours a whole bottle of liquor into the bowl and starts handing out cups to everyone (including Alton, who nearly does a Spit Take when he tastes it).
    • Throughout "Sometimes, You Feel Like a..." (nuts), a squirrel constantly appears in the background and steals from whatever nuts AB was discussing or working with when he turned his back.
    • A couple times during "Popover Sometime", Thing is shown to be holding a sign telling the audience what Alton's "secret" recipe actually makes.
    • When the federal agents show up at the meat counter in "The Alton Crown Affair", the butcher in the background is wearing the same mirrored sunglasses as them.

  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
    • Alton throws in the occasional "Gosh darn it!" every now and then.
    • More often, he resorts to "Oh, bother!"
    • The Spin-Off show Feasting on Asphalt features a sprinkling of very mild profanity here and there, as well as a deeply heartfelt utterance of "GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY!"
    • Slightly subverted during the final hour-long special, "Turn on the Dark"; you can hear AB shout a short "Ah, damn it!" through clenched teeth, after he put his hand on an ostensibly hot cacao bean grinder.
  • Gratuitous French: After getting brainwashed by the Mad French Chef in "Mission: Poachable", Paul speaks nothing but French.
  • Gratuitous Russian: In "Flat is Beautiful 2" Deb Duchon describes herself as a "dietalog antropolog" to a Russian man who's suddenly shown up in Alton's kitchen when Alton is discussing Chicken Kyiv (which, as Deb points out, is not actually Russian).
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Alton uses a creepy rabbit puppet to convince people that rabbits deserve to be eaten in "It's Paella".
  • Hand Puppet:
    • Most microorganisms on the show are played by hand puppets, and the most common are the burping, farting yeast sock puppets.
    • Dolls and puppets are also used to illustrate cooking concepts, such as the feuding "boxer" puppets Tender and Flaky, who show up when Alton is discussing pastries or pie crusts.
    • "Don't be Chicken of Dumplings" revives the boxer puppets as representing Alton's mother and mother-in-law, as well as their conflicting views on how to prepare dumplings.
    • In the Season 13 episode "Good Eats Turns 10", a puppet of Alton attempts a Hostile Show Takeover.
  • Henpecked Husband: The giant in the green bean casserole-focused episode "Bean Stalker".
  • Heroic BSoD: W has one in "Long Arm of the Slaw". After being told the morning show she's guesting on is live, she proceeds to stare blankly into the camera for the rest of the segment.
  • Historical Character's Fictional Relative:
    • Alton's not too historical, but he does have at least four fictional relatives with recurring roles on the show: Evil Twin brother BA (played by Alton himself), obnoxious older sister Marsha Brown-Brady, Marsha's son Elton, and Elton's sister Marsha Junior (played by Alton's daughter Zoey). In real life, Alton's an only child and so has no brothers, sisters, nieces or nephews.
    • The episode "Chile's Angles" features Debbie Duchon, a nutritional anthropologist in training and supposedly the daughter of recurring nutritional anthropologist Deborah "Deb" Anne Duchon. In real life, Deb had no children (and was reportedly amused when people asked her about her daughter); Debbie was invented because Deb was unavailable for filming.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: At the beginning of "The Other Red Meat", Alton has a heart attack and dies. Cue a near-death experience where he learns about the benefits of fresh tuna.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: In the Season 9 episode "Dis-Kabob-Ulated", Alton tests barbecue skewers on a Voodoo Doll of W, with painful results for her.
  • Hong Kong Dub:
    • Quite noticeable in "Scrap Iron Chef", in which the judges are clearly mouthing something different than what the voice over is saying.
    • In the reload of the first "Art of Darkness" episode, Alton points out an early scene featuring Willy Wonka had such poor audio quality when it was initially recorded, his production crew had to overdub what Wonka was saying. After Wonka's lines were re-recorded, there wasn't much attention paid to mathing lip movements.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Multiple examples, though most notably with Alton's original rule that "By and large, stuffing is evil" in his first Thanksgiving episode. After that, members of his cast and staff were quick to jump onto Alton whenever he attempted stuffing or filling a food, which he then had to justify or insist that he only meant "stuffing turkeys was evil". Eventually, he recanted the evilness of stuffing altogether with an episode devoted to finding a safe and flavorful method to stuff turkey, although the phrase has reappeared in a Christmas Episode on a card. It also reappeared in an episode about crown roasts; Alton replied that they'd already proven that stuffing didn't have to be a bad thing, but that in this case, stuffing would be "evil".
  • Idea Bulb: Midway through "Use Your Noodle 2" (discussing ravioli), Alton has difficulty installing a hand-operated pasta roller onto his kitchen countertop. A light bulb turns on above his head as he discovers that he can (and does) anchor his pasta machine onto a cheap ironing board.
  • Identity Amnesia: The basis for the plot of the seventh season episode "Ill Gotten Grains", in which Alton is "rescued" by his stalker while not remembering who he is or what happened the last time they met.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: Played with in the Japanese cuisine segment of "Turning Japanese".
    Alton: Konnichiwa!
    Japanese Store Owner: Konnichiwa! *unintelligible muttering*
    Alton: I didn't catch that. *to camera* Must be from Osaka.
  • The Igor: The Dungeonmaster, who appears in later seasons.
  • Incoming Ham: "I'M LACTOSE MAN!" The other "superhero" in that costume, Lever Man, has the same tendency.
  • Indy Escape: Seen at the beginning of "Great Balls of Meat".
  • I Reject Your Reality: In the Reloaded version of "Fry Hard" (the third episode featuring Merrilyn Crouch as Marsha Brown), Alton is on the receiving end when he reminds the audience that Marsha Brown is a fictional character, played by an actress, and that he's an only child (all of which is the truth). Crouch promptly shows up in-character as Marsha and insists that she really is Alton's sister, followed by a woman claiming to be their mother. Then Zoey Brown (Alton's real-life daughter) shows up and addresses them as "Grandma" and "Aunt Marsha", to Alton's annoyance.
  • Irishman and a Jew: A scene from "Pickled Pink" which explains how corned beef came (erroneously) to be associated with Irish cuisine employed a Jewish rabbi and and Irish priest sitting in a bar. After some dialogue and an explanationnote  from Alton's nutritional anthropologist, Deb Duchon, we get the set-up to a corny old-fashioned joke: "A priest, a rabbi, and a nutritional anthropologist walk into a bar..." Then Alton, the priest, and the rabbi all roll their eyes and get up to leave.
  • Irony: There are some tools and ingredients Alton thinks do have their uses, but are really lousy at what it was they were originally made to do. For instance, he spends a while in the curry episode "Curry-ous" talking about how bad and inauthentic pre-packaged curry powder is for actually making curry, but he does still use it in some other episodes for other things, like as a spice for the Waldorf salad in the "Apple Family Values" episode.
  • It's Been Done: One episode opens with Alton announcing he'll be testing common food urban legends, today, on "Culinary Mythbust—" Then the phone rings. One quick conversation involving "copyright infringement" and "fines" later, it's "Culinary Myth Smashers".
  • It Came from the Fridge: Subverted. The Lady of the Refrigerator appears inside Alton's fridge to discuss the nutritional benefits of featured foods. Also, the Refrigerator Gnome (champion of refrigerator and food storage safety) tries his darnedest to keep this from happening.

  • Jump Cut: The show's earliest era was stuffed to the gills with them.
  • Just Plane Wrong: In the Season 11 episode "The Wing and I", Alton starts off explaining how wings—aircraft wings, at least—generate lift, by invoking Bernoulli's Principle. This explanation is correct in some ways, but not in others. A more accurate description would have taken a lot more time to explain, which is why this one is forgivable, especially since this explanation is very commonly used—even in textbooks. Aircraft engineers still write paragraphs of rants on why Alton is wrong when they see this episode.
  • Kaiju: "Fry, Tempura, Fry" starts with a giant monster ravaging downtown Atlanta.
  • Kids Hate Vegetables: Alton posits the (woefully ignored) suggestion of, instead of breeding resentment by forcing your child to eat vile-tasting slop, finding a vegetable (or a way of preparing the one you're making) that your child will eat.
  • Killer Rabbit: In "It's a Pan! It's a Dish! It's Paella!", Alton mentions that the most traditional meat to serve in paella is rabbit. Cue an innocent-looking rabbit puppet that starts crying right in front of Alton. Alton doesn't buy the rabbit's sadness as he alludes to the film Night of the Lepus. The rabbit soon turns vicious.
  • Large Ham:
    • (jumps in) "I'M LACTOSE MAN!" [punches someone in the gut] "I'm not a doctor, but that HAD to hurt! I'M LACTOSE MAN!" [jumps out]
    • Alton himself is pretty hammy in front of and behind the camera; just watch Feasting on Asphalt.
    • Any time either Lucky Yates (the Dungeon Master, among others) or Bart Hansard (chocolatier Coco Carl and food agent Sid Maxberg, among others) appear onscreen, you can almost assuredly expect them both to turn their hamminess up to eleven.
  • Larynx Dissonance: In the Season 1 episode "Romancing the Bird", Alton argues with his Aunt Verna about the temperature of the oven. Aunt Verna says, in a deep masculine voice, "I never liked you anyway!" and storms off.
    Alton [wide-eyed]: A lot of my childhood questions... just got answered.
  • Leitmotif: Marsha has one, as do W (which sounds suspiciously similar to Bond's theme song) and Alton's Evil Twin. Alton's show neighbors (Chuck and Mr. McGregor) share one as well.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Going Crackers", the inventor of the Graham cracker condemns the newfangled picture-box where "you can watch lascivious meals being prepared every hour of the day." Alton responds: "Well, I wouldn't know anything about that..."
  • Left Hanging: Alton announced that episode 249, Use Your Noodle V, will be the last regular series episode, but he still dropped his "that's another show" catch phrase. In fact, four episodes earlier, he lampshaded the catch phrase by showing a big book of "another episode" topics.
  • Lives in a Van: Uncle Rudy, who lived a carefree bohemian life back in The '70s, in a modified conversion van with no permanent address or telephone number note , and turned to making kebabs because he (obviously) didn't have much in the way of a kitchen.
  • Long-Runners: Premiered on Food Network in July, 1999. The last episode of the original series, "Turn on the Dark", aired February, 2012.
  • Lying Finger Cross: In "Tender Is the Loin 2", Alton is forced by his lawyers to declare that he would not eat the raw carpaccio that he was going to prepare. As they walk away, we see him lift his hand with the two fingers crossed. (Ultimately, it doesn't help.)
  • MacGuffin: Lampshaded with the character Blair McGuffin in "Behind the Bird".
  • MacGyvering: AB builds such devices as steamers, smokers, and yogurt makers from household items and hardware store purchases... and teaches the viewer how to do the same.
    • Usually he does this not only because it's cheaper, but because every time he starts building one (or is forced to go buy more cookware), he brings up the fact that there's only one unitasker he'll abide in his kitchen, and if you're doing things right you shouldn't have to use it at all—a fire extinguisher. And in the 10th Anniversary special, he uses that in preparing a dish too.note 
    • Lampshaded in the gyro episode "My Big, Fat Greek Sandwich", in which he preceded a vision of him constructing an elaborate homemade rotisserie with several pieces of hardware including a small motor by saying "If you want rotisserie at home, we're gonna have to think like MacGyver." Amusingly, he then acknowledges that it's not worth the trouble and explains how to make a gyro loaf in the oven instead.
    • In "Where There's Smoke, There's Fish", Alton muses that MacGyver isn't his patron saint for nothing. That same episode, he uses a cardboard box, two wooden dowels, a hotplate, a small cast-iron pan, and two cooling racks as a makeshift smoking rig. ("Q", a later episode dealing with smoked pork, sees Alton using a large terra-cotta planter instead of cardboard.)
      • In one of the Youtube revival episodes, Alton brings out the cardboard box smoker again. He said that he'd originally come up with the idea mostly as a gimmick for the show and to prove that it could be done, but after trying it found that it worked so well that he now does it all the time for his personal cooking.
    • In later episodes, the music that plays whenever he builds something is clearly influenced by MacGyver's theme. The theme also has a touch of the "build music" from The A-Team.
    • Alton is no stranger to adapting a handheld power drill for use as a high-speed pepper mill.
    • Fiberglass ladder + rope + several inexpensive hardware store supplies = Turkey-frying derrick from "Fry, Turkey, Fry".
  • Medium Awareness: Often displayed whenever Alton brings up how good one of his recipes smells.
    Alton: You know I'm really sorry we haven't worked out that scratch-and-sniff television yet, because it sure would come in handy right now.
  • The Men in Black: They usually show up in groups of three to provide viewers the U.S. government's standards on foods and food safety. Alton is almost always the leader, and talks in a stereotypical motor-mouthed, overly serious tone. He also shows up on his own in this role, such as in "My Pod" where he talks about govt. requirements for what can be legally called vanilla extracts. While they're usually wearing the typical black suits, in "Churn Baby Churn II", they're dressed as ice cream stand attendants.
    • Confirmed in the reload of "Steak Your Claim" that the federal agents are, indeed, the Men in Black, not agents from The Matrix. The reason? "Steak Your Claim" was filmed in 1997, two years before The Matrix was released.
  • Monster Clown: One is seen outside Alton's kitchen window in "Let Them Eat (Icebox) Cake". Even though the clown does nothing more than silently stand outside, that doesn't make its appearance any less creepy.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jean-Claude (aka JC) from Feasting on Asphalt. Being French helps.
  • MST: The "Reloaded" episodes are filled with this, with Alton humorously pointing things out about the production of early episodes, actually having hair, etc.
  • Musical Pastiche: The stings and bumpers are all variations on the Theme Tune, played in completely different (and frequently apropos) music styles. Even the 10-count tones for 10-second countdowns are the tones of the theme. He's even played the theme on a number pad for a security door.

  • Nephewism: Alton's nieces and nephews, including his nephew Elton, were regular characters.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: The Dungeonmaster, who provides some of the kitchen implements that Alton uses. He uses them for torturing and killing bugs and small animals, while Alton uses them to apply pressure to food, either to flatten them (as in "Tortilla Reform") or to extract something from them (as in "There Will Be Oil" and "Fruit 10 from Outer Space").
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Notably averted in the lobster episode. Alton prepares to kill a live lobster with his knife (showing how somebody would go about killing a lobster in this fashion), then does the "more humane" method by chilling it in the refrigerator, then putting it in a steam pot for cooking, where he says it will die within the first 10 seconds.
  • Non-Standard Prescription:
    • There are several episodes where Alton takes the role of a doctor when talking about previous (or, in some cases, proven) medicinal uses for the topic of the episode.
    • In the episode "Pressure", Marsha Brown comes down with the flu, gets a prescription for broth, and asks Alton to prepare it her.
    • In the episode "Gills Gone Wild", a doctor writes Alton a prescription for an expensive statin-type drug, as well as a prescription for salmon. When Alton questions what kind of salmon the doctor wants him to eat, the doctor replies that it doesn't matter. Alton is angered, because the doctor won't let him take a generic version of the medication but doesn't think there's a difference between farmed Atlantic salmon and the many types of wild Pacific salmon.
  • No OSHA Compliance: In the last segment of "Hittin' the Sauce", Alton opens up a thermos with a handheld buzzsaw. Sparks can be seen flying all over the place, yet nobody—not even the two construction workers—has any safety goggles on. This was one of the obviously goofier scenes and didn't take place at a real construction site, however.
  • Not Actually the Ultimate Question: When Deb Duchon shows up after the umpteenth time after Alton says "nutritional anthropologist", he asks "How do you do this?" She replies with "Study. Write papers. Go to conferences. What do you mean?"
  • Not So Remote: The Deserted Island in "Down and Out in Paradise"? Actually the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Episodes that fit under an umbrella title (including "The Egg Files", "Pantry Raid", "True Brew", and even "American Classics") frequently apply.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Alton originally had a Southern accent before starting production and dropped it once he started the show. Early on, he'd slip back into it over certain words and statements.
    • Alton tends to slip in and out of a (rather horrible) Scottish accent during the "Ode to a Haggis" scene from "Oat Cuisine".
    • In the episode "Oh My, Meat Pie," Alton's British accent would sometimes break back into his normal speaking, or worse, back into his natural Southern accent.
    • He invokes this at certain points where he wants to put emphasis on something that's Southern tradition, such as when talking about peaches or greens.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: With the Food Police or his "lawyers" Itchy and Twitchy.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The episode "In the Bulb of the Night" revolves around Alton convincing "The Count" to try his garlic recipes. Vlad wants none of it, being a vampire. Alton convinces him to give it a try anyway, though he doesn't eat much since he has a rather specific diet. Turns out Alton was playing dumb and knew it was Dracula the whole time, and only stalled waiting for the sun to come up.
  • Overused Running Gag: Later in the series, Alton got visibly irritated with the Running Gag of Thing presenting Alton with a mandolin instead of a mandoline, even telling Thing off a couple of times.
  • Pac Man Fever: In "Soup's On", Alton performs a soap-box speech with Elton watching, and mentions tearing kids away from "that nasty Pac-Man"; Elton chuckles at this, reminding Alton that Pac-Man is older than Elton. Alton (naturally, compounding his mistake) continues: "Well, Frogger then."
    • One scene from "Creole in a Bowl" has Pac-Men, seen via X-rays, demonstrating how the pancreas handles sugars and other carbohydrates.
    • One scene in "Stew Romance" shows a disk of refrigerated beef fat with a triangular wedge cut out of it, resembling Pac-Man. Naturally, Alton can't resist going "wokka, wokka, wokka" with it.
  • Patron Saint: Alton has claimed that MacGyver is his. (See MacGyvering above.)
  • Product Displacement: Quite a few items have their brand names overlaid with stickers or tape ("Bob's" being one common "replacement" brand name), though quite a few items have enough of the original label showing for viewers to guess what brand (or even store brand) they are, or have it blocked in a manner that's suggestive of the original logo.note 
  • Product Placement: Almost completely averted; see You Wanna Get Sued? below for ways that the show gets around mentioning products by brand name (but see Product Displacement above). However, if you pay attention to the label designs it's easy to tell which stores the ingredients are bought from and which brands are used, even with the names changed or blanked out.
    • In earlier season, Alton has specifically mentioned Old Bay seasoning by name in several episodes.
    • Averted in Alton's YouTube-exclusive shorts, in which he often references brands by name since he's not under the same legal constraints.
  • Prop Recycling: invoked In the Orange Aid episode, a video used in Oat Cuisine is recycled to explain why sugar is added after the cooking is done. This is lampshaded by Brown. Lactose/Lever Man's outfit is also mentioned in that episode, as they're still trying to pay it off.
    • The boxing puppets named Tender and Flaky introduced in "Crust Never Sleeps" appear in several other episodes. In "Don't be Chicken of Dumplings", they're repurposed to represent Alton's mother and mother-in-law fighting over the correct dumplings to use in a chicken-and-dumpling soup.
    • Let's not forget to mention Alton's frequent use of Ken and Barbie dolls, which have been used to demonstrate the sciences behind pizza, oatmeal, and non-evil stuffing, among other topics.
  • Pun: Alton makes these on a regular basis. Examples include:
    • During the first "Flat is Beautiful", which discusses homemade pizza, Alton is insulted by the "Mad French Chef" for not blooming his yeast gently in warm sugar water. When Alton explains how instant yeast doesn't need to be pampered, the Mad French Chef crushes his paper hat on Alton's head and storms off muttering angrily to himself, leading Alton to look at the camera and say "I guess he didn't care for my yeast inflection."
  • Pun-Based Title: Nearly every episode title contains (or, more often, is) some sort of pun.

  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. Alton often stutters and "um's" and "uh's" his way through many of his monologues because he often pre-records them ahead of time and has them fed to him via an earpiece. Other times (such as skits with W or other characters), he memorizes his lines like an actor. Still other times (usually when explaining technical aspects and merits of various cooking gadgets), he works from a basic outline and pretty much ad-libs until he hits the points he needs to make.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • W's depiction in early episodes as a Virtual Ghost came about because Vicki Eng was out of the country trying to adopt a child, and had to film her appearances in advance.
    • In The Early Years, Alton says we probably won't be seeing Elton anymore because his actor, John Herina, was in college, a football player, and taller than AB, which would undermine his role as The Watson. The Middle Years further elaborates that the college in question was West Point.
  • Reconstruction:
    • A lot of the dishes and ingredients featured on the show are things many people hated from their childhood (mussels, peas, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoesnote  just to name a few). Alton shows how to cook them properly in order to ensure that they're actually quite tasty, and often quite easier to prepare properly rather than improperly (which is often what leads to the nasty flavors and textures people dislike anyway).
    • "Stuff It" is dedicated to finding the right way to stuff a turkey (going back to "Romancing the Bird", he had stated that "stuffing is evil"). He starts the episode with a demonstration of why he'd said that before (a Deconstruction), and then shows how to avoid the various problems (the reconstruction), making the entire episode a Decon-Recon Switch.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The adorable, burping yeast sock puppets... 'nuff said. "Good Eats 3: The Later Years" comes with a "Make your own yeast puppet kit!"
    • The rabbit in the paella episode plays innocent and vulnerable... which is later revealed to be a Killer Rabbit after Alton refers to Night of the Lepus, a schlocky 1972 horror movie, by name.
  • Running Gag:
    • People taking Alton's food. The episode "Going Crackers" lampshaded this gag:
      Unnamed Girl: May I?
      Alton: Sure...
      [girl takes all his crackers]
      Alton: She took my crackers.
    • Alton reacting with "Oh Bother!"
    • "Stuffing is evil."
    • The sudden appearance of Deb Duchon, the nutritional anthropologist. At first it's a case of Speak of the Devil; later, she starts showing up without prompting (to Alton's annoyance).
    • The Food Police showing up whenever certain raw ingredients are used in a dish (usually raw eggs, though they've also shown up for raw meat and raw milk).
    • Thing presenting Alton with a mandolin whenever Alton mentions using a mandoline to slice something.
    • "...and for repelling home invaders!" when showing off a particularly large/supersized and scary-looking multi-tasker (kebab skewers, knives etc).

  • Secret Ingredient: Defied by Alton when mentioning a lesser known or unusual ingredient in a recipe, and loathing the concept in general given the show's nature at demystifying food and thinking outside the box. Instead he prefers calling an ingredient "unorthodox" or insist the viewers wait for the final results of a dish first if it includes something the average person might not use in a dish while explaining why he's using those ingredients.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Done to himself a few times, but "Behind The Bird" contains a playful jab at Alton's adopted hometown of Atlanta, as a couple of inches of snow is enough to shut down the city (which, for the record, is Truth in Television).
    • From "Great Balls of Meat": Before cooking a batch of Swedish meatballs, Alton plays a clip from "The Fungal Gourmet" from which he, in a single breath and in a single take, talks about the process of clarifying butter. When this speech ends, "Fungal Gourmet" Alton immediately faints, which prompts "Great Balls of Meat" Alton to say:
      Alton: Shame what some guys will do just to get attention.
    • There are quite a few moments that will take jabs at Alton's weight (before he went on a diet and lost it all) and his thinning hair (before he shaved it off).
      Alton: So much hair, so few chins.
    • Alton jokes about the opening title card in "Sub Standards", saying that it has "hokey music and lame animation". One of the substitute chefs also takes a swing at Alton's scientific demonstrations, claiming that hes just "talking down on the audience".
  • Seppuku:
    • In "Hittin' the Sauce", Alton does this to himself while dressed up as a sunflower to show where starch comes from.
    • In "Turning Japanese", after being chastised for carrying miso that has MSG in it, a "Japanese" store owner threatens to do this.
  • Sequel Hook: AB's Catchphrase "...But that's another show."
    • During the original run, this was rarely inverted with the phrase "...[an episode] we've already done".note  Alton has already teased previous episodes with more frequency during first season of both Reloaded and The Return.
  • Sequel Series: In July 2017, Alton announced on Twitter that a new series, Return of the Eats would follow in the footsteps of Good Eats. Good Eats: Reloaded (revisiting old episodes with new footage to fix errors and provide new, better recipes over the old topics) launched in October 2018, and Good Eats: The Return (entirely new episodes, and treated as a continuation of the original) began airing in August 2019. Both subsequently ended in 2020 and 2021 (respectively) when, as stated in Good Eats: The Final Years, Alton decided that the Covid pandemic had made it too difficult to safely shoot another season of either series without taking severe precautions, and he wasn't willing to risk anyone's health for the sake of a show.
  • Shown Their Work: Alton goes over the chemical processes behind certain cooking maneuvers in the kitchen to help explain to viewers the rationale behind various recipes. He also commonly starts off an episode with a brief overview on the history or origins of the food he's covering, citing various works or historians in the process. This invites a lot of faultfinding from Negative Nellies.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • "Coco Carl", a maker of awful processed foodstuffs.
    • "The French Chef", a representative of the snooty, uptight traditional cooking establishment.
    • Alton and W view each other like this, too; W often treats Alton like a walking snark-target, while Alton tends to deliberately antagonize her in return. This is because he usually prefers his homebrew knockups, and W makes her living selling the very unitaskers Alton disdains.
    • In the Season 1 episode "Pantry Raid I: Use Your Noodle", some scenes featured him side-by-side with "The Anti Alton", who went out of his way to do everything Alton wouldn't do when cooking pasta. (Anti-Alton would later be revealed to be "B.A." Brown, Alton's Evil Twin.)
    • Lactose Man could also apply given that his only function is to sock Alton (and others) in the gut when they eat lactose-laden food, and shout "I'M LACTOSE MAN!" in overwrought fashion.
    • Alton's "sister" Marsha, the stereotypical annoying sibling who cons or manipulates you into doing things for her and never shows gratitude.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Being an eloquent speaker with an American South background, Alton occasionally likes to drop folksy southern idioms into his lengthy scientific explanations. A common example is:
    *scientifically explains the results of a common mistake*, and that is not good eats.
  • Space Whale Aesop: In "Tortillas Again", the lesson learned is:
    Alton: If you don't play wise with your leftovers, you'll end up with people picketing your house, your crew abandoning you, and of course, you'll be infested by some strange little fairy-type person.
  • Speak of the Devil: At first, the culinary anthropologist was "summoned" this way. In later seasons, she started appearing without the use of the "magic words", to Alton's annoyance.
  • Spin-Off: Feasting on Asphalt featured Alton and his camera crew crossing America by motorcycle and trying different foods from different places. Season 3, titled Feasting On Waves, moved to the Caribbean and switched out the bikes for boats.
  • Spoiler Title: "Popover Sometime" qualifies, since Alton clearly spends the first third of this episode trying to hide the episode's main topic.
  • Squashed Flat: At the beginning of "Great Balls of Meat", a diner orders "polpetta enorme" (a giant meatball) at an Italian restaurant. The meatball, which has a mind of its own, begins pursuing the waiter, then goes after the diner. Cue Indy Escape. The meatball ultimately wins, rolling over and flattening the diner before Alton's monologue. Alton meets the same fate when this episode ends, but without the drawn-out dramatics.
    Diner: Now, that's enorme!
  • Start My Own: How the show came about. Alton was dissatisfied with other popular cooking programs, mostly because they never tell you why you should do certain things and take certain steps when preparing food. His wife then challenged him to make his own show.
  • The Stinger: A few episodes include an outtake from the episode after the production company's card, while a few others continue from a previous scene (or continue a theme from earlier in the show).
  • Stock "Yuck!": Discussed in a few episodes, typically with Alton arguing that the real issue being that the meal in question is often poorly prepared (example: most vegetables that kids typically hate being overcooked to the point of being mush), and coming up with alternatives to make it more palatable.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • How Alton got his science information changed as the show progressed. It went from food scientist Shirley Corriher to nutritional anthropologist Deb Duchon to the Lady of the Refrigerator.
    • Likewise, longtime show friend W was unceremoniously replaced in the later seasons by the Dungeon Master. She returned after a while though, and is still around for "The Return".

  • Techno Wizard: "W", named in honor of James Bond's "Q", is the harried kitchen appliance retailer who supplies info about whatever new machine Alton needs in that particular episode. She doesn't seem to appreciate the job, possibly because in her capacity as "W," Alton is her only customer; other characters, such as a dentist who employs her part-time as an assistant, refer to her as "Ms. Wong". In fact, W's real name wasn't fully revealed until "Long Arm of the Slaw".
    • W has had a bit of an interesting story arc; she started as something of a Virtual Ghost, appearing on giant screens behind Alton and on microwave doors and so forth. Then she becomes real, managing the Bed Bath & Beyond where he shops. Then, apparently, he hires her into his organization, as she only shows up in a "lab" type of environment, testing and evaluating products.
    • And of course, he points out in Behind the Eats that in real life, Vicki knows almost nothing about cooking. She's actually his chiropractor.
  • Tempting Fate: The beginning of "Deep Purple" (an episode about eggplants) has Alton saying "You can never have enough eggplant." Cue his neighbor MacGregor showing up with more and more eggplants...
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "Romancing the Bird - A Good Eats Thanksgiving". Aside from obviously featuring turkey, the episode also has a recipe for cornbread pudding. A later episode ("Alton's Countdown to T-Day", aka "Re-Romancing the Bird") also counts.
  • This Loser Is You: Literally. The show takes on a first-person perspective when Alton teaches the audience how to make breakfast in the Season 13 episode "Man Food II", with the Audience Surrogate being a 32-year-old loser whose mother comes over every morning to make him breakfast (and, as we see at the end of the episode, do his laundry).
  • This Means War!: Versus the Mad French Chef in "Mission: Poachable" and against the snooty cupcake shop maître d' in "Honey, I Shrunk the Cake".
  • Tim Taylor Technology: In "Flat is Beautiful II" Alton drives a steamroller over a beef roast, before deciding that he might need a more controlled and hygienic method of flattening steak.
  • Title Drop: Practically every episode. It gets lampshaded and played with quite a bit.
    • Lampshaded in "Immersion Therapy" after using a sous vide (immersion circulator) to cook rump roast, a relatively cheap cut of meat. He goes so far as to say he's turned an otherwise mediocre chunk of cow into "great eats... and that's not even the name of the show".
  • Torture Technician: A "cackling Igor" Torture Technician supplies Alton with tortilla-making implements and a few other delightful terrors, like a device that uses blades for tenderizing meat. Alton addresses him as "Dungeon Master", which, given the nature of the show, may well be his actual namenote . He seems to be renting Alton's dungeon basement solely for the opportunity to do this particular job, because his lease favors the landlord heavily; Alton can evict him at a moment's notice if he's not happy with his tenant's job performance.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Kosher salt, because it's easier to pinch and dissolves better. Also, Alton never had iodized salt as a kid, so it just doesn't taste right to him. He will use either table or pickling salt if/when the occasion calls for it, however.
    • He's also said that cumin is his favorite spice, and that mangoes are his favorite fruit.
    • He's carried a whole nutmeg around with him in his pocket, for years, so that he can make freshly-grated nutmeg whenever and wherever he needs it.
  • Trojan Veggies:
    • In "Undercover Veggies," Alton makes three dishes with parsnips hidden in them to win a bet against his veggie-averse, but highly perceptive, niece that he could get her to ask for seconds of vegetables before her visit with him was over.
    • In "Give Peas a Chance," Alton disguises some peas as a hamburger patty, but then also advises against disguising vegetables on general principle, because kids won't go on to eat them regularly if they don't know that they're eating them.

  • Unwanted Assistance: Don't say it! Did someone call for a culinary anthropologist?
  • Valley Girl: The Sugarplum Fairy in one of the Christmas Episodes.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: In the episode "The Bulb of the Night", a vampire named Vlad hires Alton to help him get over his "phobia" of garlic. The fear itself seems to be his only problem; once he starts cooking with it, he's perfectly fine.
  • Visual Pun: Sometimes provided by Thing, generally by taking Alton Brown's request literally.
    • In several episodes, AB mentioned using a mandoline to slice something; Thing promptly showed up holding a mandolin. (Both words are pronounced the same.) Another time, Alton mentioned that the person preparing a dish with peas would "want to hit it with your stick", meaning an immersion or "stick" blender. Thing, naturally, hands Alton an actual stick.
    • In "School of Hard Nogs", Thing steals a small quantity of bourbon that Alton has ready for his egg nog recipe. Several minutes later, Alton sees a soused, hungover Thing. Alton see that Thing has "tied one on". Literally, as Thing as a paper numeral "1" tied onto its index finger.
  • The Watson:
    • Chuck, in many of his appearances.
    • Likewise Elton in his.
    • Alton will also use the non-existent Fourth Wall to use the audience as a Watson ("I know what you're thinking...")
    • Or Alton himself whenever he's talking to a butcher, fishmonger, baker, or any other person with specialized food knowledge, whenever the viewer needs more details on buying the things they sell. He also uses this to show what type of questions the viewer should ask to ensure that they're getting the right stuff.
    • Inverted in "The Fungal Gourmet", where the fourth-wall "character" makes suggestions to a clueless Alton.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Exclaimed by Alton to Shirley Corriher (the food scientist) in "Romancing the Bird", but he's got more than his fair share as well.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Too many to list, but here are a few:
  • Wholesome Crossdresser:
    • Brett the Dutch Girl, who was first seen in the doughnut episode and has shown up as a German girl and a Colonial girl in later episodes.
    • In one of the books based on the show, Alton says that the practice of putting a guy in a dress when an ugly woman is needed is another Monty Python influence.
  • Writer on Board: It's understandable, but Alton's rants and raves against anything that isn't scratch-made gets tedious after a while. At least in later seasons, he lampshades some of this tendency with "...but I'm a freak, and we all know it".
  • You Look Familiar: invoked
    • Alton says this almost word-for-word in "American Classics 7: Don't Be Chicken of Dumplings", when the actors who play his lawyers Itchy and Twitchy turn up a couple of minutes later as Robin Hood and Wilfred of Ivanhoe.
    • He does say it word-for-word to the oven salesman (Bart Hansard, the same actor that plays Coco Carl) in the soufflé episode "Quantum Foam".
      Oven salesman: No, I don't. *flees*
    • He says it again in "Pop Art" to a popcorn vendor whose actor (Lucky Yates) plays many roles on the show (most famously, the Dungeonmaster). He replies: "Oh, yeah? Wait 'til you see the next scene." Sure enough, he does show up in the next scene—playing Batman.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?:
    • When referring to Ritz crackers, Alton explains he has to avoid using the trademark but instead holds up the cracker. Oddly enough, Ritz crackers were mentioned by their actual name as an ingredient in a recipe in the episode "Beet It".
    • He performs a similar tactic for Moon Pies in the Season 11 episode "Puff, the Magic Mallow".
      Alton: Now, if you grew up in the South as I did, you'll know exactly what to call these. But since that name is copyrighted, I'll remain mum on the subject.
      [two hands pop up in the background, one holding a picture of the moon, the other holding a pie]
    • The MythBusters gag under It's Been Done above.
    • In the Halloween candy episode "Tricks for Treats", Alton references Tootsie Rolls without actually using the name by holding up one of the old-style, cigar-sized pieces.
    • In "Pop Art", Alton tap-dances around the name "Cracker Jacks", referring to it as "the snack from that song, 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame'" and later as "Cracker... you know". He even packs his version in boxes bearing the name "Slacker Jacks". He even includes a prize with his homemade treat (in the form of single-use dental picks).
    • From "Dill-icious", a Kool-Aid Expy bursts through a brick wall when a recipe calls for Kool-Aid packets, although instead of a pitcher it is a glass. The glass cites budget reasons.
    • "Three Chips for Sister Marsha" features him making variations on the original Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe and encourages the viewers to follow along with the recipe which is available on the back of any yellow bag of chocolate chips (read: Nestle Chocolate Chips).
    • Subverted in "Date Tripper". A lawyer tries to mute Alton when he's saying "sriracha" (a type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt), only for Alton to inform him that the name isn't trademarked and therefore he can say it all he wants.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The backdrop for the episode "Wild Yeast Rising", in which Alton and his dog Scabigail are the only (known) survivors still alive in Atlanta.

Alternative Title(s): Good Eats Reloaded, Good Eats The Return