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Elliot Stabler: I've got to get home. My pregnant wife has a craving for peanut butter and tacos.Chester Lake: Say no more.
A Pregnancy Trope. During any pregnancy, at some point the mother will experience cravings -- however, they will never be cravings for any standard foodstuff (such as pickles, ice cream, etc), but will instead be cravings for the most hilariously inappropriate and mismatched foods (chocolate covered kippers, boiled eggs and ice-cream, peanut butter-dipped pickles, etc). Bonus points are awarded if the woman craves something that is either (a) extremely difficult if not physically impossible to actually find; (b) isn't actually food or (c) both.
The trope often involves the father being roped into visiting late-night markets at 3 AM in search of that particular brand of pickled radishes and pistachio-flavored ice cream. Usually, this state of affairs will result in the father being stretched to breaking point to find the necessary goods... only to find, when he returns home, that the mother no longer craves it (usually without so much as a "thank you for traveling across five states and climbing a mountain to get it").
A case of Truth in Television -- some women actually do crave inedible things during pregnancy. In many cases, a woman doesn't even have to be pregnant. Some are prone to wild cravings during "that time of the month," to the confusion of any men present. This is probably a milder form of a condition known as "pica"; those afflicted with full-blown pica will crave all sorts of bizarre stuff 24/7, regardless of gender.
Compare the Extreme Omnivore, someone who always eats this way (e.g. the aforementioned full-blown pica.)
- Almost any commercial with a pregnant woman as a character that has her giving dialogue and where it isn't for an actual pregnancy product. (Though some of those have it, too.)
- A print ad from the 1970s for Camel Cigarettes -- whose tag line was "I'd walk a mile for a Camel" -- had a picture of a man next to a jar of pickles and an empty box of vanilla ice cream, and in this case it was not that he had run out of cigarettes, which is why they usually had to leave. The caption at the bottom, "Start Walking", meaning in this case he had to walk a mile for a half-gallon of ice cream for his (presumably) pregnant wife instead of for his cigarettes.
- One ad had a pregnant woman ask her husband to go out for something *insert adjective ending in "ewy" here*, adding a different quality even as he's getting in the car.
- Early on in Tenchi Muyo!, Ryoko tricks the crew into thinking she pregnant (and that Tenchi's the father) by claiming to crave pickles and ice cream.
- Briefly happens in Naruto when Kushina is pregnant in a flashback
- Superman #666 starts with a heavily pregnant Lois craving ice cream and pickles. When she miscarries, Clark reveals to the demon trying to cause him despair that he knew this was a simulation the whole time: "Lois isn't that much of a cliché!"
- "Rapunzel" is held captive by a Wicked Witch who caught her father stealing rampion for his pregnant wife and demanded her in return for her father's life. As are Petrosinella and The Fair Angiola, whose mothers had robbed the witch and had to pay the same price.
- "Darling, I know this sounds fantastic and utterly absurd, but I have an uncontrollable desire for that variety of European Bellflower." Fractured Fairy Tales
- In Lady and the Tramp, Darling sends her husband out into a January snowstorm to get watermelon... and Chop Suey. What makes this even more bizarre is that both melons and Chinese food are considered warm-weather fare.
- Shrek The Third presents Princess Fiona as pregnant. When asked if she has had any cravings, she says no while eating cake, then sniffs and says, "Do you smell ham?"
- In Rosemary's Baby, Rosemary has a sudden craving for rare meat, just barely touched to a hot frying pan. This is another clue that Something Ain't Quite Right.
- Subverted in both the play and film of The Odd Couple:
Murray: (on phone) What do you want, Mimi? A corned-beef sandwich and strawberry malted?
Oscar: Is she pregnant again?
Murray: No, just fat.
- After the Thin Man offers a subtle example; Nora doesn't officially announce she's pregnant until the very end of the movie, but beforehand makes odd requests like scrambled eggs at three o'clock in the morning. As she says to Nick: "And you call yourself a detective..."
- Nicely subverted in Fargo, as Marge Gunderson's appetite is pretty normal for any average woman...except the vast quantities of coffee
- In Den Nya Människan, the first hint that Gertrud is pregnant is when she starts eating pickled gherkins from the pantry.
- In The Belgariad sequel series The Malloreon, during Ce'Nedra's pregnancy, she got these sorts of cravings, mainly just to mess with Belgarion. In a subversion, it was never a problem, since Garion (a sorcerer) could simply create whatever food she wanted out of thin air.
- The same subversion appears in the prequel novel Belgarath The Sorcerer, when Poledra is pregnant with the twins.
- In Stephen King's Wolves Of The Calla, the character Susannah is pregnant with the child of the Big Bad, Roland, and a second mother, and craves things like living frogs.
- In the Discworld novel Guards! Guards!, the pet dragon that ends up foisted upon Vimes has these, but not because it's pregnant... it's because he's instinctively transforming himself into a living jet engine.
- Before Mrs. Jewls announces her pregnancy to her students in Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, one of them notices her eating Oreo cookies filled with bologna instead of cream.
Live Action TV
- Almost any 1970s British sitcom that featured a pregnancy at some point was required by law to feature these.
- An episode of The Brittas Empire once featured a pregnant woman eating coal.
- The same thing happens in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, when Louise is pregnant. She takes out a large lump of coal and bites into it as one would an apple.
- In Latin America, this trope is often coupled with the old wives' tale that if you don't satisfy the craving, the kid will be born with a physical symbol of that unsatisfied desire, giving this trope a bigger sense of urgency. In one old Sketch Show, a man tried to discredit that old tale, saying that while his mother was expecting him she craved watching Tarzan movies (in an age before home video, when those movies were not available anyway), but he was born and grew up healthy and normal... and then he makes the archetypical Tarzan yell.
- In non-humorous examples, the mother having a bizarre craving can be a sign that Something Is Terribly Wrong.
- In V, Robin, pregnant with a hybrid, craves red meat to the point that she wakes in the night and yanks it uncooked from the refrigerator to eat.
- Or, in the 2009 remake, Valerie (also pregnant with a hybrid), almost eats a mouse caught in a trap.
- in 'Demon Seed, the mother of the titular child, conceived through similar methods, also craves red meat to the point of eating it raw.
- Gail in American Gothic begins to eat some raw meat when she is pregnant with Lucas's child. She claims she is just hungry and doesn't have time to wait for the meat to cook.
- In V, Robin, pregnant with a hybrid, craves red meat to the point that she wakes in the night and yanks it uncooked from the refrigerator to eat.
- Angel's Cordelia raided Angel's supply of pigs' blood during her demonic pregnancy episode.
Angel: I never quite realize how disgusting that is.
- When Darla was pregnant she started to crave innocent blood. Well she was already a vampire.
- Full House: Becky had a craving for sour cream and onion potato chips. By the time Jesse gets back from the market, she's changed her mind. Anticipating this, he bought "every chip known to man -- the Pregnancy Variety Pack." Alas, he didn't get any with ridges...
- On Sesame Street, during Maria's pregnancy with Gabriella, her cravings led her to try Grouch cuisine, which is always depicted as very disgusting mash-ups such as marshmallow sauce over fish -- and she loves it to Oscar's delight and Luis's disgust.
- An episode of Xena: Warrior Princess finds Xena, Gabrielle, and some young friends ordering food in a tavern. Xena orders something extremely bizarre that everyone else notices except her. Later it's revealed that she is pregnant with Eve (no, not that Eve).
- Parodied in Scrubs when Dr Cox brought Jordan a live goat.
- Star Trek: Voyager, during the episode Elogium where Kes goes through false puberty and her body readies for conception. She eats beetles, nitrogenated planting soil, mashed potatoes with butter (with soil), assorted fruits, and even the flowers Neelix brings her to apologize for his jealousy over Tom...all in the space of a few minutes.
- On Friends, pregnant vegetarian Phoebe craves meat, much to her horror. She trades with Joey, who promises not to eat meat throughout the rest of her pregnancy in order to balance out the universe.
- Vala requests pancakes and brownie fudge ice cream during her pregnancy on Stargate SG-1. Incidentally, this was before she got around to telling anyone in the SGC, though a sharp-eyed viewer would have noticed.
- In the third season premiere of Dexter, Rita is constantly craving chocolate pudding. When Dexter comes home to find her making more, he comments on it. Rita responds by freezing and then saying, "Oh, shit. I've done this before... I'm pregnant!"
- On Saved by the Bell, Mr. Belding's pregnant wife asks for a combination of ginger ale and peanut butter. Screech notes that's his favorite.
- Played with in a scene from The Golden Girls, where Rose is talking to a pregnant neighbor girl
Rose: Now you come into the kitchen with me, honey, I'll get you some pickles and ice cream.
Mary: Oh, no thanks, I don't have any strange cravings yet.
- Male example: Merton gets them during an episode of Big Wolf on Campus, after being impregnated by an alien.
- On Quantum Leap, after Sam leaps into the body of pregnant woman, he craves Jello and onions.
- When Lucy is
pregnant withexpecting Little Ricky on I Love Lucy, she sends Ricky out in the middle of the night to find a store that makes a papaya milkshake--as well as sardines to mix in and a pickle to dip in it.
- In one episode of Three's Company, Cindy is Mistaken for Pregnant by Jack and Janet. One thing that supposedly confirms their suspicions is when Janet sees Cindy making a tuna fish and jelly sandwich.
- Non-pregnancy-related example: the Eleventh Doctor spends a good ten minutes after his regeneration trying to figure out exactly what it is he's craving, working his way through most of the contents of Amelia's kitchen before eventually settling on fish fingers and custard.
- Happens in the Australian Sitcom Home Sweet Home where Maria started craving things like fruit salad and tomato sauce while pregnant. Results in a false trip to the hospital for what turns out to be indigestion.
- During Peggy's pregnancy arc on Married... with Children, she has a heavy craving for tapioca, and when she calls for it from upstairs, the kids are seen shoveling it from a giant drum in the living room. She also craved "tobacky and clam" ice cream, and would take food from one restaurant to combine with food from another.
- During one episode of Croc Diaries Steve Irwin's wife Terri decides to tell him about her second pregnancy by setting up a meal of pickles and ice cream and mentioning the craving when Steve walks in, and you can watch the wheels in his head turn in realization.
- On an episode of Bewitched, Samantha has weird cravings during her pregnancy and being a witch, something causes whatever food she wants to magically appear in her hand. She gets that fixed, but then when she has a craving it causes her to go to where the food is.
- More of a Hilarious in Hindsight moment of The X-Files; Scully was portrayed as a health nut for seven seasons, very rarely indulging in junk food. She even went as far as stirring bee pollen into yogurt (even though Mulder tells her she's a scientist and should know better..) While pregnant in season eight, we see her ordering junk food--specifically pizza--which is mentioned later that same episode to have been a regular habit of hers.
- Older Than Print: The medieval English song The Cherry-Tree Carol has the Virgin Mary first tell Joseph about her pregnancy when asking him to pick her some cherries from a tree. Joseph angrily tells her that the man who made her pregnant can pick the cherries, upon which Jesus speaks in her womb, commanding the tree to bend down, and it does.
- Alan King said in a bit that his wife told him she was pregnant by waking him up at two in the morning and asking him to go get her an ice cream sundae with a ridiculously long list of toppings, "and a sour pickle".
- Discussed in the opera Street Scene: Panicky Expectant Father Mr. Buchanan mentions in "When A Woman Has A Baby" that his wife "wants soft-shell crabs at Christmas and oysters in July."
- Wives in Harvest Moon games will often have these as early indicators of their pregnancy.
- Pregnant women in The Sims 2 and 3 sometimes get wishes to eat odd combinations of food.
- This Penny Arcade strip.
- Parodied in this strip of Order of the Stick, in which a pregnant mother expresses a desire for a "peanut butter, pepperoni and pickle" sandwich:
Daigo: Eww! Do you really crave that?
Kazumi: No. It sounds disgusting. But this article in "Stereotyped Pregnancies Monthly" says that's what I should be eating.
- Sister Claire finds herself absentmindedly chowing down on a wooden mug. She is pregnant with the Messiah, but it's still somewhat extreme.
- Here in Plus EV.
- Law of Purple does has people mentioning a few on this page and a few of them are going for the most bizarre combo award
- Ben 10 Alien Force: Ben's craving metal and pickles? Hah, maybe he's pregnant... WAIT! I Was Just Joking...
- In one episode of Doug, Doug ends up pet-sitting Roger's cat Stinky. When Doug gives into the cat's demands for pizza and ice cream, he thinks he's done something terrible when the cat starts acting strangely afterward, but in the end, to everyone's surprise (including Roger's!), it turns out that Stinky was a girl all along, and pregnant.
- At one point in the Home Movies episode Cradles and Caskets, the woman that Brendon's dad marries is seen eating a bucket of fried chicken and dipping it in butterscotch.
- In the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "Pizza By The Shred" when Michelangelo is a "Weird Pizza" delivery boy hired by Shredder, he delivered a pickle and ice cream pizza to a pregnant woman.
- The Simpsons: In the 'In the Na'Vi' segment of "Treehouse of Horror XXII", Kang reveals that pregnancy is particularly difficult for females of his species as their planet has no pickles and their only ice cream is butterbrickle.
- Before the modern days of decent nutrition, pregnant women would crave for chalk -- it contains calcium, which is necessary to build up the bones and teeth of the baby.
- Geophagy (eating of dirt and clay) still happens with pregnant women in some poorer countries, and parts of the U.S. South).
- It is still encouraged in parts of West Africa. In Ghana, for example, ground up clay in little sticks known as "ayilo" can be found on sale just about everywhere. Some people acquire quite a taste for them and eat them just for fun.
- Similarly, some pregnant women crave charcoal, as it helps with gastric problems.
- Vegetarian Kari Byron had a craving for beef stew (her mom's recipe) while she was pregnant. Her husband got stuck with the job of preparing it.
- In the Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 8 of Tractate Yoma mentions pregnancy cravings for non-kosher food. The passage discusses a pregnant woman who craves pork on Yom Kippur! (Yep, it's allowed! Still, check with your rabbi first.)
- Some hypothesize that various isotopes, such as Carbon-13, are necessary for long-term health in a baby. Since we do not currently keep track of these on nutritional labels, it's not that far a stretch to imagine a pregnant woman developing cravings for odd foodstuffs that have contained these isotopes in the past - only to lose interest as soon as she finds that the particular samples brought back lack them.
- Non-pregnancy example: Many people on diets will crave one bizarre thing or another. Sometimes it's simply missing a favorite food, but sometimes, especially if the craving is pretty odd, it could be that the way they've structured their diet has left them lacking in some vital nutrient.
- Likewise, people lost at sea in life rafts have been known to develop cravings for parts of fish -- bones, eyeballs, guts, scales -- that are normally discarded, due to these parts' containing essential nutrients not abundant in the muscles.
- Alyson Hannigan gave up vegetarianism during her pregnancy, in favor of meat, cheese and ginger ale.
- Real Life women (and men) will tend to crave things that are low in their usual diets. Women who eat low-fat may crave high-fat foods, vegetarians may crave meat, and women who eat a lot of junk will crave vegetables. The craving is usually somewhat specific (peanut butter, for example) but, given general decent health otherwise, it's usually not outrageous, impossible, or inexplicable.
- While women in Real Life can and sometimes do crave non-food items, it's no laughing matter. Depending on what it is she's craving (such as paint chips) and if she actually tries to eat it, it means she has to see a doctor. Now.