The TV lover’s guide to anthropomorphic food

The TV lover’s guide to anthropomorphic food

Food really, uh, takes on a life of its own on the big screen.

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Flip on the boob tube and you’ll see all sorts of fantastical foods. You’ll see an enormous pitcher of Kool-Aid bursting into private residences. You’ll see a green M&M with gams for days and lashes that could knock a grown man on his patootie. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a hot dog with the face of a man screaming in agony as he attempts to escape a hungry public. Humans have been projecting anthropomorphic traits onto food since Ricky Ricardo came home for dinner. In honor of As Seen On TV Week, here are some of the best humanoid snacks from our favorite TV shows.

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Pee-wee’s wild freezer party

Pee-wee’s wild freezer party

Screenshot of anthropomorphic TV dinner
Screenshot: dmace81 (Fair Use)

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse really set the stage for children’s programs involving grown men who summon genies and throw dance parties in too-small suits. It also set the stage for some of the best anthropomorphic food on television, as Pee-Wee’s fridge was famously full of sleeping food. Perhaps the best example of anthropomorphic food occurs when Cowboy Curtis, played by a chaps-clad Laurence Fishburne, peers into Pee-Wee’s freezer. He lets out an impassioned “Woo, doggy!” when he sees the frozen goods clad in platform shoes, dancing to “Tequila” by The Champs.

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Musically gifted, deeply unsettling raisins

Musically gifted, deeply unsettling raisins

Screenshot of the California Raisins
Screenshot: Alex Gerges (Fair Use)

We’ve briefly discussed the Gary Busey-esque California Raisins, a group of musically inclined raisins who appeared in the 1988 claymation TV special Meet the Raisins! They appeared in our list of the food world’s most unsettling figureheads for a few reasons, ranging from their overly prominent cheekbones to the TV special’s potentially racist overtones. These guys are probably best left in 1988.

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The ultimate food fight

The ultimate food fight

Villainous pizza wearing a red cape
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If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What if Pokémon... were also edible?” then I have a show for you. Fighting Foodons was a short-lived animated series in which warring chefs summoned fighting food creatures to do their violent bidding. According to the show’s lore, it all began many years ago in a far-off kingdom, when a king asked of his subjects: “Which is stronger, fried duck or stewed tofu?” At that point, a mysterious stranger brought the king’s dinner to life so he could watch the food fight. Thus, the Foodons were born. They can be naughty—an evil slice of pizza, for example—or nice, like a valiant bowl of noodles. “Depending on the spice you add, your Foodon could be really bad,” proclaims the show’s theme song. Just something to keep in mind.

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Mayor McCheese, the ever-stately burger politician

Mayor McCheese, the ever-stately burger politician

Person dressed as Mayor McCheese in McDonald's line
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He’s a mayor, but he’s also a juicy hamburger. That’s not De Blasio—that’s Mayor McCheese, baby! We are devoted to Mayor McCheese, one of the original residents of the McDonaldland advertising universe. With his stately diplomat’s sash, his massive, disk-like noggin, and his bumbling attempts at public service, McCheese is a a major highlight of McDonald’s early ad spots.

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Aqua Teen Hunger Force puts a goatee on some fries

Aqua Teen Hunger Force puts a goatee on some fries

Screenshot of characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Screenshot: Adult Swim UK (Fair Use)

Aqua Teen Hunger Force stars a grand total of three anthropomorphic foods: a dim-witted meatball named Meatwad, a domineering milkshake named Master Shake, and a long-suffering box of fries named Frylock. In theory, the trio works to solve mysteries, but as you might expect they run into some unique roadblocks. For example, Frylock has no hands. Also, he is made of fries. This concept carried the series through 11 seasons and 139 episodes. Yes? Did you have any questions?

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Traversing the Land of Chocolate with Homer Simpson

Traversing the Land of Chocolate with Homer Simpson

Homer Simpson running past a sign that reads "FUDGE TOWN"
Screenshot: Max Walker (Fair Use)

You didn’t think we’d publish this thing without including The Simpsons, did you? In Season 3, Episode 11, Homer takes a dreamlike trip the the Land of Chocolate, hangs a right into Fudge Town, and runs into a variety of chocolate mammals. The chocolate bunnies and chocolate dog he encounters aren’t technically anthropomorphic, as they don’t take on human qualities. Still, a yipping dog made of chocolate seems notable enough to include in this list.

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Sam Spud: Par-boiled Potato Detective

Sam Spud: Par-boiled Potato Detective

Screenshot of detective with potato head
Screenshot: Christopher Grim 3rd Channel (Fair Use)

Between the Lions is a delightful children’s show that first aired in 2000. Each episode contains a variety of short educational clips, but the very best ones involve a sexy noir detective named Sam Spud. This par-boiled potato detective solves mysteries while subtly dropping grammar and reading clues for young viewers. The only question is this: if Sam Spud’s head is a potato, what’s going on under his suit? Is his torso another potato, somehow attached to his potato head? Does Sam Spud have the body of a human man and the head of a potato? As journalists, these are the questions we must ask.

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