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Obsession with food as a marker of childishness

It sometimes happens in TV shows, particularly comedies, that a childish character will show an inordinate interest in food. For instance, both Michael Scott from "The Office" and Liz Lemon from "30 Rock" are childish main characters who are obsessed with food, and many compilations of them eating exist on YouTube. Ernie, a character from the German comedy "Stromberg," is also obsessed with food and notably more childish than his English-speaking counterparts Gareth and Dwight (who show less interest in food but are instead obsessed with sex). The fact that childishness and food obsession show up together so often suggests that an interest in eating itself is meant to highlight the character’s childishness in some way. Why do you think this is? What are some other examples of shows that connect childishness with a love of eating?

  • This sounds like a yummy and interesting topic, pun intended. My "Disney and the deadly sins" article has a section on Mikey Blumberg from Recess and gluttony, if you want to read that to get yourself going. – Stephanie M. 10 months ago
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  • Idk if I would necessarily link food obsession with childishness. Today's food obsession, whether among celebrities or the general public, is a more complex psychological and sociological phenomenon and childishness feels too negative a term. – Xiao 9 months ago
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The meaning of food

Food, a staple of life, has often had significant meaning attached to particular types of food. For instance, the most commonly known are foods that are considered aphrodisiacs, or chocolate that is linked to lust and decadence. An interesting article could be the exploration of these meanings and how in literature these have also changed over time and across different cultures.

A few examples to whet the appetites would be: the easiest would be the role of chocolate as lust, desire for worldly sensuality in Joanne Harris’ Chocolat; sandwiches eaten on a picnic rug in Wind in the Willows represent friendship and trust; wealth is often represented through food, such as cucumber sandwiches in The Importance of Being Earnest when cucumbers were imported from India; or food as taboo, as in A Doll’s House where the macaroons represent secrecy, concealment and rebellion.

It could also be included in the discussion the rituals that surround eating: many novels will include a moment that captures the family eating together or even the break in this ritual, such as in Harry Potter where family meals with the Dursleys highlighted Harry cooking or serving but not often eating. Or even looking at subversions of food and rituals, as in Alice in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter’s tea party or the enlarge/reduce eat/drink items, all of which acted to challenge the over emphasis placed on Victorian rituals surrounding food in that period.

  • The revisions are useful here. Looks like it would be an interesting take on this topic. – Munjeera 6 years ago
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  • Other than making me hungry, good topic! ;) I especially appreciate that you included Chocolat. – Stephanie M. 6 years ago
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  • I think a great addition to this article would be from the movie, A Hundred-Foot Journey, where they use the term "food is memories." How often do we smell a particular food, or a certain dish and it reminds us of a past romance or our mother's cooking from home? – noopface 6 years ago
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  • The perfect novel for this is ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ by Laura Esquivel. It’s the tale of a woman whose repressed emotions come out in her cooking. The magical realism narrative is intertwined with recipes of the dishes she makes. – SarahPhilip 6 years ago
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