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Ironic situation where characters spend an entire episode trying to get some minor product or object, but succeed only if they are willing to take excessive or ultimately useless amounts of said object with them. Typically become sick of said booty but are unable or unwilling to part with it.

Examples of Bulk-Buy Only include:


  • Cowboy Bebop's infamous "Mushroom Samba" episode had the crew unintentionally end up with a large stash of shiitake mushrooms. The crew ends up having to eat the mushrooms in a variety of dishes because they have no other food available. Possibly inspired by the Monty Python's Flying Circus skit below.
  • In one installment of the Ranma ½ manga, Cologne is sold a veritable mountain of horrible-tasting noodles. Rather than throw them away or demand a refund, she holds an all-you-can-eat contest, and hidden in one special order is a "Noodle of Strength," said to confer the strength of 100 men. Eat up! Just as expected, not only do the male members of the Nerima Wrecking Crew eat and fight over the horrible noodles, but several Muggles, too! Hilarity Ensues. In the end, the MacGuffin noodle was an even worse kind: it provided the digestive strength of 100 men, and Ranma, the winner, is so hungry he's given more of the original, horrible noodles.


  • A variant appears in Batman Begins when Alfred comments that the components for Bruce's Batman mask will have to be ordered in large lots - ten thousand of each component - in order to avoid suspicion. ("At least we'll have spares," Bruce comments.) The first shipment of the mask proper turns out to be flawed and unusable, obliging them to order another ten thousand, albeit at a discount offered in apology for the flaw.
  • Basically the entire plot of "Harold and Kumar"


  • Put to hilarious use in Haruki Murakami's short story The Second Bakery Attack. The narrator and his wife wake up starving in the middle of the night and set out to rob a bakery, but have to settle for a McDonald's because it's the only place open. At the same time, the narrator flashes back to a previous bakery robbery he and a friend had committed in college, in which the baker had allowed them to take as much as they wanted as long as they agreed to listen to a full Wagner record.
  • In Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe, a university student's attempt to procure a single condom becomes a Trojan Gauntlet that ends with him acquiring an two gross of them. He is then stuck with the problem of how to dispose of them.
  • In a variant, Rincewind of Discworld has accumulated a number of do-nothing titles at Unseen University, for each of which, the University porter provides him with a bucket of coal to heat his office each day... even though for all his positions, he only has the one office. If Rincewind asks for less than that, or he fails to burn every last piece, the university won't provide him with any coal at all. Thus, Discworld's most put-upon "wizzard" must strip to his underpants and sweat atop a mountain of coal every summer if he wants to avoid freezing to death in winter.
  • In one of the Stainless Steel Rat novels a military troop ship is forced to spend several months eating nothing but heat-and-expand sausages. Don't feel too bad, most of the troops are willingly invading a pacifist planet.

Live Action Television

  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, the bandit Dennis Moore steals lupins from the rich and gives those lupins to the poor. Eventually, the poor get fed up with having to live on such dishes as "braised lupin in lupin sauce." This isn't because Dennis can only get lupins in large quantities; he just doesn't know what else to steal. Given that the rich nobles also value the lupins highly (one keeps a lupin stashed in her garter for safe-keeping), it may simply be that lupins are considered a valuable commodity for no comprehensible reason (think the Dutch "tulip bubble"), while the poor are the only ones sensible enough to question their worth. Then again, this is Monthy Python, so try not to overthink it.
  • The Thunderbirds episode "Ricochet" has one of the staff of a pirate satellite complaining that there's nothing to eat on board except Honey Crunch Crispies. His partner replies that as a major advertiser the company gave them a year's free supply.
  • The characters of Seinfeld once attempted to start a bakery which sells only the tops of muffins, but spent most of the episode trying and failing to dispose of the bottoms. They even try giving them to the homeless shelter, which turns them down because, apparently, it would be insulting to the homeless people to be fed muffin stumps. (You might think they could have saved themselves the trouble by just baking the tops, but this is Handwaved in the episode: the tops don't taste right unless they are baked with the bottoms attached.)
  • In an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, Aunt Bee goes on a cost-cutting kick and discovers a way to save 10 cents a pound on meat--by buying an entire side of beef, 150 pounds. To make matters worse, her freezer proceeds to break down.

Web Comics

  • Its Walky!: Once Joyce and Walky finally push the metaphorical beds together, they go out to buy some condoms, and do it in such an awkward and clueless manner that the cashier eventually pushes them into buying a whole box so that none of them will have to go through this again for a long time.

Real Life

  • Howard Hughes is said to have had insisted on a certain flavor of ice cream for dessert every night, and his staff panicked when the flavor was discontinued. The ice cream company agreed to make a special batch, just for him, but it had to be a few hundred gallons. Allegedly, he ate two scoops of the new batch and then decided it was time for a change.
    • The flavor was Banana Ripple, which was distributed for free to customers at Hughes' casinos after he grew tired of it. One worker for Hughes joked there's probably still some Banana Ripple in a freezer somewhere.
  • Can be Truth in Television, as many foods are cheaper in bulk; students in the UK, being typically short on cash, are stereotyped as surviving exclusively on baked beans.
    • International variation: In Australia, it's two-minute noodles instead. Students buy boxes of them for less than $10.
    • here in Canada it's Kraft Dinner (Kraft Macaroni and Cheese), which contains neither real macaroni or real cheese
      • Or the store-brand equivalent, if you're not living the high life.
    • In the US it's usually instant ramen (or if you're in the southern US, cornbread and beans). Especially for college students.
  • Shopping at places like Costco and other small-business suppliers will invariably end this way. You're one person, who needs one tube of toothpaste, which is why your only recourse is to buy five and give thanks that toothpaste doesn't spoil very fast.
  • Many bagel stores will sell day-old bagels for cheap, but only if you buy a few dozen. Most of the time it's worth it.
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