Good Eats loved gratuitous pop culture references, frequently riffing on them for episode titles.
- Any time someone mentions New York City on the show, expect everyone in the scene to yell "NEW YORK CITY?!"note
- This reference is turned on its head in "The Big Chili", where "Grumpy Gus" (Alton Brown dressed up as a cowboy) mentions buying a salsa "made in New York City, so you know it's good".
- After making peanut brittle he references the classic Tootsie Pop commercials by licking his candy three times, then biting to reach the "center". He even says "let's find out", a quote from Mr. Owl.
- "Sometimes You Feel Like a..." refers to an old ad slogan for Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars.
- Alvin the Albacore from "Tuna, Surprise!" is an expy of Charlie the Tuna, the mascot for Star-Kist tuna.
- One recipe in "Dill-icious" features a glass breaking through a brick wall, reminiscent of the Kool-Aid Man.
- Alton used the "Is it saaaaaaaafe?" line from Marathon Man on several occasions.
- "I told you not to cross the streams!" (Of glowing, yellow "frosting"/flocking)
- "This is America! Goose sat behind Maverick!"
- In "Tamale Never Dies", while talking about the contributions ancient civilizations made to corn, Deb Duchon says "Without the Aztecs, we wouldn't have the Alien vs. Predator films, now would we?" It's a reference to the film's ancient Predators using ships that looked like Aztec and Egyptian pyramids to reach Earth.
- "The Wing and I" features a segment where Alton is offering free samples of hot sauce to the boyfriend of a passing couple (to provide an example of a study conducted that showed the eating of spicy food had connections to mating rituals). The girlfriend first calls her bravado-filled boyfriend "Pumpkin", which seems relatively normal. After he rushes off to find sour cream and Alton explains why the boyfriend downed the hot sauce, the following dialogue ensues:Girlfriend: You mean... he really loves me?
Alton: Well, I wouldn't call it—yeah. He loves you.
Girlfriend" (chasing after boyfriend) Pumpkin! Honey Bunny is gonna make it all better!
- In "Peanut Gallery", George Washington Carver's ghost gets revenge on Alton for ignoring peanuts by filling his bed with them. When Alton wakes up in the morning, he throws back his gold silk sheets to discover he's covered in peanuts, prompting him to scream in terror.
- The entire scallop episode, "Shell Game 4", is a parody of Jaws.
- In "Porterhouse Rules", Alton depicts the enzymes in steaks as bunch of cogwheels that stop spinning, and when they do, Alton, as a factory worker, leaps on top of one and starts tightening the bolts.
- The Sugarplum Fairy in the hour-long Christmas special, "'Twas the Night Before Good Eats", seems to owe most of her characterization to the Ghost of Christmas Present from Scrooged.
- In "Pretzel Logic", Alton drops a pair of movie references when explaining the pH scale.
- The beginning of "Dill-icious" features Alton re-creating Darth Vader's conversation with Luke Skywalker at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.
- Well; Sort of: "Luke! I am your Father! CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM!"
- "Use your Noodle 5" contains multiple references to Animal House, as the introduction to ramen takes place in, appropriately enough, a dorm.Alton: A PLEDGE PIN, ON YOUR UNIFORM?!
- Alton often refers to a "Eureka!" Moment as "a Monkey-Touch-Monolith moment."
- "Behind the Bird" (a Mockumentary about the production crew being snowed in at Alton's house over Thanksgiving) is filmed in a manner reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project and features several homages to it, such as the documentarian being named "Blair MacGuffin" and a recreation of the famous Extreme Close-Up scene from the film.
- "Give Peas a Chance" contains multiple references to The Exorcist. Complete with Stevie's parents and psychologist getting covered in split-pea soup, and an Exorcist Head moment. There's even a riff on the theme music that's reminiscent of "Tubular Bells".
- James Bond actually visits Alton at "Good Eats Bar" in the cocktail episode, and asks for his signature drink: a vodka martini, shaken (not stirred). Alton prepares a classic martini with gin, and stirs it (explaining why this is better), and Mr. Bond thoroughly enjoys it.
"Do you expect me to talk, Drill?"
- Alton references Goldfinger in the vanilla-centered episode "My Pod" when coring a pear with a paddle bit.
"No, Mr. Pear, I expect you to die."
- Of course, gadget mistress W is directly influenced by Q.
- At the end of "Olive Me", Alton wins a "biggest vegetable" contest with a single, plain-sized olive — beating out a giant pumpkin and a giant potato. Chuck, who submitted the potato, lauds the olive for its "Noisy Cricket" factor.
- In the same episode, the scene where AB goes to the dentist because he bit down on an olive pit and broke a tooth is reminiscent of Little Shop of Horrors.
- In "Turn on the Dark", Alton uses a replica of the Noisy Cricket to describe how small chocolate cookies pack a big, flavorful punch.
- "Mission: Poachable" was a straight-up play on the first Mission: Impossible film.
- "The Icing Man Cometh" has Alton going through a drawer full of spatulas. When he comes to the largest one he has, he says to the viewers, in an Australian accent, "Now, THAT'S a spatula!"
- "Fry Hard".
- The pomegranate episode is called "Fruit 10 from Outer Space".
- In "Romancing the Bird", Alton offers Marsha a Thanksgiving history lesson by offering her the choice between a blueberry and a cranberry.Alton: Take the blueberry and you can have your sweet potato pie. Take the cranberry and there's no going back.
- The federal agents who recurrently pop up are a direct reference to Men in Black.
- "Every Grain Old is New Again" opens with a riff on John Wick, with Alton visiting a grocery store after hours, and being greeted by a security guard, named Jimmy, who asks if he's working again.
- Several segments of "My Shakshuka" are filmed in the Deliberately Monochrome style of Casablanca, which happens to be Alton's—and Special Guest Alex Guarnaschelli's—favorite filmnote .
- In "True Brew: Amber Waves", Austin dresses as British super spy Austin Powers when describing the flavor profiles of ale.
- The polpetta emorme from "Great Balls of Meat" turns into one big Indy Escape scene.Diner: Now, that's enorme!
- The giant Tempura Monster from "Fry, Tempura, Fry!" riffs on Godzilla and other kaiju movies.
- Title shout-out: The 2020 Halloween special episode, The House That Dripped Chocolate.
- A papier-maché chicken comes in after knocking on his door, and thus so he goes to "Fry Some More".
- In the pomegranate episode "Fruit 10 from Outer Space", they bring the fake doctor bit back and Alton cheerfully describes a gelatin dish he made as "a dessert that even Nurse Ratched could love!"
- In the "Power Trip", Alton has questions about the ingredients in a protein bar being marketed as health food. (These Unfortunate Ingredients included high-fructose corn syrup, large amounts of sodium, and palm kernel oil.) He consults with Coco Carl, who is in a maximum security prison à la Hannibal Lecter.
- Alton reacts with "Oh, bother" as a Running Gag, usually whenever the Food Police show up.
- From "American Pickle": "That's a pinch of salt for me and two tablespoons plus two teaspoons for Dark Man over there."
- "Actually, I wasn't talking about Chekhov's three sisters, I was talking about mirepoix, the holy amalgamation of celery, carrots, and onions."
- The carrot episode is titled, A Taproot Orange.
- "Bean Stalker" has Chuck eagerly wanting to grow a giant beanstalk. After receiving a goose named Goldie near the episode's end, Alton soon realizes the situation mimics a certain children's tale.Alton: Does something about this scenario seem oddly... familiar?
Giant: Fee, fi, fo, fum!
Alton: Yes, indeed, it does.
- "For Whom the Cheese Melts".
- 'House of the Rising Bun'.
- "The Dough Also Rises".
- "MacGyver's not my patron saint for nothing."
- Alton would occasionally poke fun at other Food Network personalities, especially Emeril Lagasse and his "BAM!" schtick. After Emeril left FN, Alton seemed to prefer tweaking Rachael Ray instead. There's also been a few instances of the show referencing itself, usually by quoting older episodes in the context of whatever the newer episode is doing.
- *Alton holds up a pizza peel* "This is my favorite peel, Emma."Alton: You youngsters are just going to have to look that one up.
- Thing is said to be a relative of Thing from The Addams Family.
- Speaking of the Addams Family, "Apple Family Values".
- "True Brew II: Mr. Tea"note .
- "Scrap Iron Chef" is a hybrid parody of Iron Chef and Junkyard Wars.note
- "The Egg Files" should be rather self-explanatory for sci-fi buffs.
- A more subtle reference is "Deep Space Slime", which talks about gelatin desserts.
- Dishes and ingredients that are seen either as unpalatable or difficult to work with are displayed in "The Food Gallery", an Affectionate Parody of Rod Serling's Night Gallery.Alton: Liver and onions are on permanent display here...
- "Stuff It" makes heavy references to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The point was that all the parts of a stuffing (whether it's for a roast turkey or an acorn squash) all fit together, just as all the parts of this particular Variety Show did.
- At the start of "Immersion Therapy", Alton discusses a lifelong interest in Time Travel. During this monologue, he reveals his replica of a famous British time machine model, the TARDIS from Doctor Who. It doesn't make the iconic sound when Alton uses it at the episode's conclusion, but that probably just means he took the brakes off.
- Early episodes featured a box with the name "Mystery Food Science Theater", a play on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- The end of "My Shakshuka" has guest Alex Guanaschelli sampling Alton's shakshuka dish. As she does so, she starts going on a lengthy critique of his dish, much like she does on sister Food Network show Chopped.
- From "Fruit 10 from Outer Space", Alton demonstrates grenadine syrup's use in cocktails by making a Tequila Sunrise. When he's done, he proudly presents it with the comment "There you are—an Eagles concert in a glass!"
- The series about brewed beverages (coffee, tea, beer) is named "True Brew".
- Many if not most episode titles are puns based on a reference to something or other, but "Pretzel Logic" didn't even need that.
- In the episode "The Proof Is in the Bread Pudding", he yells out that "you can't get your pudding if you don't eat your meat!"
- Alton gives a Shout-Out to Led Zeppelin by name in "It's a Pan, It's a Dish, It's Paella!"
- References are made to Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" whenever Alton brings up the song's herbal medley of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. If a recipe only called for three items from this quartet, Alton would deem it necessary to apologize to the duo's fans.
- In "I, Pie", Alton brings up Limp Bizkit as a way to describe a poorly constructed lemon meringue pie crust.
- The title for "My Shakshuka" links directly to 80's rock group, The Knack.
- "Date Tripper" channels The Beatles.
- The entire Season 12 episode "Oh My, Meat Pie" is one huge Sweeney Todd shout out, along with all the unfortunate implications about the meat used in that episode. It also had an Edward Scissorhands Shout-Out when Mr. Todd is chopping up vegetables.
- His character of "The Waffler" in "The Waffle Truth" (and later, "Wild Yeast Rising") was clearly inspired by the same named recruitment-reject character in Mystery Men... except without the burnt parts. His outfit seems closer to Crow T. Robot's Willy the Waffle Sprite costume from Mystery Science Theater 3000. He's even got a W cut out from a waffle on his head. Plus he has a little puppet theater called the Mystery Food Science Theater complete with little opening doors.
- Several are to Monty Python:
- On several occasions, AB has asked people to name things that float, and once he did the list himself. "Ducks", "small rocks", and one time, "witches". In his book Good Eats: The Early Years, Alton openly admits that the opening of "What's Up Duck?" is a nod to Holy Grail.
- The Egg Files 2 had this little segment involving quiche made with spam.Alton: *rattling off ingredients, ending with spam*
Male Chorus: "Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam..."
- Early in "My Shakshuka", Alton and Alex Guarnaschelli are talking about the said dish's history, during which Alton brings up The Spanish Inquisition. Obviously, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition! (Alex ribs Alton over this reference.)
- The animations featured in later-season episodes are done in a pastiche of Terry Gilliam's style. They even used the "Liberty Bell March" as BGM on more than one occasion.note
- In the Season 13 episode "Feeling Punchy":
- When Alton says that one of the classic elements of a good punch is spice, his assistant intones "He who controls the spice controls the universe!" Alton tells him to lay off the sci-fi, to which he replies "The spice must flow!"
- In the same segment, he plays the commanding officer of a EITC ship who dunks a Dutchman in icy waters to get ice for his punch recipe. Alton apologizes to him, saying "Sorry about your ship, just business, nothing personal, you know."
- "Tamale Never Dies" is a play at James Bond, and during the episode Alton's fridge has Alton himself drawn as Bond, complete with stylized title. The episode, however, contains a parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- "Raising the Bar" featured an appearance by James Bond in "person", where Alton took his signature drink order ("Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred") then proceeded to make the drink with gin and stirred it (with reasons for both steps). "Bond" loved the drink.
- The dark chocolate special is named "Turn On the Dark", and in order to illustrate the old adage "Good things come in small packages", Alton pulls out the actual Noisy Cricket prop from Men in Black. Later in that same episode, Thing holds up a seltzer sprayer, causing Alton to respond, "Go ahead, skin it! Skin that smokewagon and see what happens..."
- When presenting different types of cutting boards, he expresses a particular dislike of glass boards (glass is actually exceptionally hard, making it rough on knives), calling it "Dark Lord of the Sith evil".
- "Down and Out in Paradise" (various tropical foods) references both Gilligan's Island and Cast Away.
- Alton dresses up—and acts—as Popeye late in the show's spinach salad episode.
- Speaking of Popeye, in "A Grind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste", the character J. Wellington Whimpy [sic] greets Alton by with the familiar "Pardon me, sir. I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
- "What's Up, Duck?" features numerous cartoon shoutouts as Alton conducts thermodynamic experiment on duck-shaped ice blocks named Daffy, Darkwing, Donald, Duckman, and Howard.
- The Pac-Man franchise occasionally gets mentioned.
- An X-ray machine shows little Pac-Men representing pancreatic enzymes—sound effects from the video games included—in "Creole in a Bowl".
- Alton somehow manages to squeeze in a Pac-Man reference in "Stew Romance", thanks to a strategically cut disc of refrigerated beef fat.