There’s a weird amount of content on the internet dedicated to cartoon foods people wish they could eat in real life. Psychologically, we’re likely drawn to these, ahem, drawings, because they are designed to emphasize the best parts of that food in real life, a caricature of deliciousness. Take a cartoon pizza, for example: extra-springy, extra-gooey, extra-yellow cheese with a sprinkling of the reddest pepperoni you’ve ever seen, all sitting on a slice the size of the protagonist’s torso. What’s not to love?
Sometimes wishes come true, and we’re able to sample the fictional foods that we’ve dreamed of for so long. But mostly, we’re left only to imagine those menus from books, films, and TV. Here’s our rundown of the most delicious delicacies we’ll never get to sample. Cross your fingers for future sandwich engineering that can produce anything close to a Dagwood Bumstead original.
The Grey Stuff
If a talking candlestick tells you to eat something, you eat it. That’s the moral of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. (The film probably has another moral, but I’m too hungry to figure it out.) The 1991 film is arguably Disney’s best, thanks in no small part to the rousing musical numbers that drive the plot. The best of these is “Be Our Guest,” a three-minute ditty during which a series of enchanted inanimate objects encourage Belle, their master’s unwilling captive, to chill out a little and enjoy a delicious meal. “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious,” urges Lumiere, the aforementioned talking candlestick.
Readers, I want that grey stuff. Is it sweet? Is it savory? Is it vegetable or animal? I don’t know. All I know is it’s served in a perfect spiral and appears mousse-like in texture. It could taste like some sort of whipped earl grey concoction, or it could be some sort of whipped savory brandade. The mystery is half the fun—and it really does look delicious. —Lillian Stone, staff writer
All the food in Hook’s food fight scene
I have to admit, it’s been decades since I’ve seen the Peter Pan movie Hook, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Robin Williams, but the one scene that sticks out in my memory is the food fight scene. Remember that? How could you forget it?
First of all, the spread looked incredible: you could barely see any of the table’s surface, since it was covered in such an intense amount of dishes. Then, there was the food’s dazzling technicolor, which made it resemble more toy than anything actually edible. And of course, there was the actual food fight itself. I’ve never been in an all-out food fight, so it’s really easy to live vicariously through a joyous scene of kids (plus Robin Williams, RIP) chucking an enormous amount of food at each other, eating it off their own faces, and having the time of their lives. —Dennis Lee, staff writer
The ultimate burger with the biggest secret—the krabby patty from Spongebob Squarepants. You could argue that almost the entire cast of Spongebob relies on this one sandwich to drive their personality. Spongebob devotes his life to the making of krabby patties, Mr. Krabs built a business around them, Plankton constantly devises plans to steal the secret formula to making them, and Squidward refuses to eat them until he becomes addicted after a single bite. The season three episode in which Squidward tries his first krabby patty, he ends up eating so many that they go straight to his thighs... and then promptly explodes.
They may look like simple burgers, but there’s something about this underwater fast food that just piques my interest. There’s a bun, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and the mysterious patty, made of who knows what, grilled to perfection. This is the only fictional food I want that also comes with its own safety warning: Don’t eat too many or you will blow up. —Angela L. Pagán, staff writer
There are plenty of delectable treats in the 1971 classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but the one that I most often crave is the lickable wallpaper. Sure, it seems entirely unsanitary to drag your tongue across a wall, but how convenient for when you want just a little taste to hold you over on the way to the kitchen! Would it be a real pain to replace once all the flavor is gone? Maybe! But it’s also a seemingly magical item so that may never be an issue. If there was something in the real world that could brighten up an accent wall in my apartment and provide a sweet treat all in one, I’d be all over it. —Brianna Wellen, associate editor
The rats’ picnic
Most of my food imagination has been shaped by books, not movies. Often when I see a movie based on a book I’ve loved, the filmmakers have imagined it vastly different from the way I have, and of course they are totally wrong. This ruined the Harry Potter movies for me. Food is a whole other thing, though. No one in the Muggle world will ever get Butterbeer right, so I’m safe. (I know, I know, they have it at the theme park, and I’ve also seen it in kid-friendly cafés around town, but even kids know it’s just some Muggle approximation. Until we get to Diagon Alley ourselves, we’ll never get the real thing.)
I do think it may be possible to feast like a character in a British children’s books, though—even if those characters are Moles and Rats and Toads and other anthropomorphic woodland creatures. They eat human food, and they eat well! One meal I keep thinking about is the picnic the Water Rat packs for the the Sea Rat in The Wind in the Willows.
There he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger’s origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.
I don’t know what it means that the cheese lay down and cried, but I know it would be delicious.
And if I can’t have that, I would at least like to have my own version of Mother Wilder’s doughnut jar from Farmer Boy and fresh pie for breakfast every day. —Aimee Levitt, former associate editor
Who could resist this jingle?
You take a hot dog
Stuff it with some jack cheese
Fold it in a pizza
You got Cheesy Blasters!
And do you know who you can thank for this incredible creation (besides the writers of 30 Rock)? Meatcat, the sunglasses-wearing orange tabby Cheesy Blasters mascot that rides around on a flying skateboard making all our lives a little more XXXtreme.
Why have I never made myself a Cheesy Blaster? Well, because, when food comes frozen out of a box, it’s totally acceptable eating, but what’s less acceptable is stating my intentions to roll a piece of pizza around a cheese-stuffed hot dog myself; then it’s considered “dangerous” and “irresponsible.” This is why it’s stipulated in my living will that I’m going out with a mouthful of hot dogs, pizza, and melted cheese, just the way God intended. —Allison Robicelli, staff writer
Big cartoon sandwiches
By the time The Simpsons was in its fourth season, it had solidified the aspects of Homer’s character that audiences found funniest—namely, that he is a gluttonous oaf, but a mostly pleasant one. So in the season 4 episode “Selma’s Choice,” an indulgent 30 seconds are spent on the backstory of why Homer’s too sick to take the kids to Duff Gardens that day: He took home a leftover 10-foot party sub from a company picnic some weeks ago, has been eating his way through that same sub ever since, and now he’s suffering food poisoning.
Despite its eventual fallout, this sandwich—while still fresh—always looked so delicious on screen, trailing all the way down to the carpet as Homer nibbled away happily at its not-yet-spoiled ends. And it must have tasted as good as the animation made it look, because even the sandwich’s expired mayonnaise isn’t enough to get Homer to stop eating it, nor (later on) is the evident dust that it’s gathered from its hiding spot behind the radiator so Marge won’t throw it away. And when he finally does bid his sandwich a tearful farewell, it beckons him from the trash bin outside. Gray as it is by then, I still get it. There’s just something about those big cartoon sandwiches, man. I’ve been thinking about this one for 27 years. —Marnie Shure, editor in chief