11 memorable food scenes from holiday films and specials — and what to eat while you watch them
From Buddy's syrup-laden spaghetti to Didi's latkes — here's what to eat while you stream your holiday faves
I remember the first time I watched Mickey's Christmas Carol on television as a kid. It was actually my introduction to the classic Charles Dickens tale. Of all the scenes, one stood out to me the most: Ebenezer is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present, and they're surrounded by an abundance of delectable food, including piles of mince pies, perfectly roasted turkeys, and a tender and juicy suckling pig.
"And don't forget the chocolate pot roast with pisnashio … uh, with smismashio … uh, with smusmumagah … uh, with yogurt."
I didn't know what that was — but I knew that I wanted to eat it immediately!
As we queue up our holiday watch-lists for another year, I couldn't help but notice how many classic (or soon-to-be classic) seasonal films, series and specials have equally significant food scenes that manage to make us salivate — and maybe even move the plot along, too. To prevent you from hitting pause and running to the fridge or firing up a delivery app during your viewing party, here's a list of snacks to source and serve before you cosy up to watch these holiday favourites.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
The scene: Kevin eats pizza alone in a limousine.
The craving: Your very own cheese pizza.
Is there anything more luxurious to a child than sipping cola from a champagne flute while eating your very own cheese pizza in a stretch limo? That's exactly how Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) lives it up in the sequel to Home Alone when he finds himself lost in New York. And given how Kevin was denied his favourite pizza the night before his family abandoned him for Paris in the first film, this scene is a slice of heaven.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)
The scene: The Grinch joins the Who-ville feast.
The craving: Roast "beast" — whatever that means.
We've been so blessed with a number of adaptations of the Dr. Seuss holiday classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, but the most memorable might be the 1966 TV special starring Boris Karloff.
Just as the Grinch's heart grows two sizes, your appetite will double once you see the folks of Who-ville lay out their festive spread, including a three-tiered Who-pudding. But the pièce de résistance is the roast beast, which the Grinch has the honour of carving. What exactly is it? It sounds like beef but is shaped like a turkey and has no bones, so we can only assume it's a turducken. This is definitely not a whip-it-up snack for one. Plan accordingly.
The scene: The mom decimates the gremlins in her kitchen.
The craving: Gingerbread cookies.
Alone in the house with newly hatched and hungry gremlins, Billy's mom, Lynn (Frances Lee McCain), refuses to run and hide as they invade her home. Her first confrontation happens in the kitchen where the monsters are feasting on the gingerbread cookies that she's been baking all day. In what is one of the more gruesome scenes in the movie — and arguably one of the best — she massacres the gremlins using a mixer, a knife and a microwave.
Who wouldn't want to snack on some cookies after that?
The scene: Buddy makes breakfast.
The craving: Spaghetti, maple syrup and all kinds of candy.
Elf plays up the "fish out of water" trope with such earnest joy. When Buddy leaves the North Pole in search of his biological father, he is treated to a lovely spaghetti dinner by his newfound family. He is quick to add his own flair to the dish, however, by slathering maple syrup on top. Buddy takes his fusion cuisine to new heights when he prepares a unique breakfast the next day: spaghetti with maple syrup, chocolate syrup, mini marshmallows and candy-coated chocolates.
While we recommend keeping your spaghetti separate from your candy stash in order to satisfy both your pasta craving and your sweet tooth, you do you.
Love Actually (2003)
The scene: Juliet visits Mark to see the wedding footage.
The craving: Banoffee pie.
Newlywed Juliet (Keira Knightley) comes bearing a slice of banoffee pie when she visits her husband's best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln), hoping to convince him to show her the video he captured on their wedding day.
As she reviews the footage, she realizes that he is actually in love with her — and was way before she presented him with a cream pie filled with bananas and toffee.
You're gonna need a bigger slice of pie to unpack all this — and the grand gestures still to come.
Little Women (2019)
The scene: The March family receives a wealth of food after their good deed.
The craving: Cakes, puddings and piles of pink ice cream.
When the March sisters donated their delicious breakfast — bangers, eggs, poached pears — to a family in need on Christmas morning, they did not expect anything in return. But their extremely wealthy neighbour, who probably has enough food and money to feed the whole county, rewards the young women and their mother with an impressive spread of food including cakes, puddings and even pink ice cream!
If this scene doesn't have you salivating for a grand breakfast feast, I don't know what will.
Eight Crazy Nights (2002)
The scene: Davey steals a box of peanut brittle from the mall.
The craving: Peanut brittle — legally obtained.
Inspired by the Saturday Night Live favourite The Chanukah Song, written and performed by Adam Sandler, Eight Crazy Nights is an animated film featuring Sandler as a 33-year-old alcoholic named Davey who is sentenced to community service. His ill-temper and mean spirit often lead him to poor judgment — including stealing a box of peanut brittle from the mall.
Eight Crazy Nights is not the most family-friendly animated film, but it is chock-full of that Sandler potty humour of the late '90s and early 2000s. Enjoy some laughs as you shatter your sweet tooth on some peanut brittle — store-bought or homemade preferred.
The scene: Jonathan and Sara go on an impromptu date after their department store meet-cute.
The craving: Frozen hot chocolate.
Holiday shopping madness can either bring us closer together or make us want to swear off humanity forever. Lucky for Jonathan and Sara (John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale), they end up bonding over a pair of gloves in a department store. This leads them to enjoying a couple of frozen hot chocolates in a café called Serendipity3 — which just happens to be a real NYC institution.
Frozen hot chocolates are perfect for those special holiday moments when you want the comfort of a warm cocoa but the temperature of a milkshake. It is the perfect oxymoron.
Die Hard (1988)
The scene: Sgt. Al Powell picks up Twinkies for his wife.
The craving: Twinkies.
Stock up on those Twinkies; it's gonna be a long night. In this oft-debated holiday flick, NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) must take out the terrorists who have crashed his estranged wife's Christmas Eve company party at Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
While John crawls through the building's air ducts, Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) of the LAPD is picking up some Twinkies for his pregnant wife. Unfortunately, Al soon gets the call about the hostage situation that John is trying to diffuse, which prevents him from delivering the packaged cream-filled cakes. She may be waiting a long time for them, but luckily you can snack on yours as everything goes down.
"Welcome to the party, pal!"
A Rugrats Chanukah (1996)
The scene: Didi makes latkes as Grandma Minka shares the story of Hanukkah.
The craving: Latkes!
Hanukkah was very rarely portrayed on mainstream children's programming in the '90s. But at the start of its fourth season, the popular kids show Rugrats did just that with this holiday special.
As Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil learn about the "Maccababies" from Tommy's Grandma Minka, Didi interrupts storytime to get Minka's help making latkes in celebration of the Festival of Lights. The mere mention of those crispy potato fritters may pique your desire, so prepare accordingly: fire up the frying pan before pressing play to enjoy your latkes piping hot as you watch the Rugrats learn the meaning of Hanukkah.
Dash & Lily (2020)
The scene: Dash makes mochi with a group of Japanese ladies.
The craving: Mochi.
Dash (Austin Abrams) despises the holiday season, while Lily (Midori Francis) embraces it wholeheartedly, but there's one thing they can agree on: food is amazing! In this YA limited series, the two teen New Yorkers connect during the holidays over cryptic notes and a series of dares — most of which involve either consuming or making food.
One particular dare has Dash attempting to make mochi while under the watchful eyes of a group of Japanese grannies. He can't help but make a mess of himself and the sticky dough. With a language barrier stopping him from asking for help, Dash is forced to "listen to his mochi" to help him focus on the challenge at hand.
While he's doing that, we'll just eat our mochi, thank you very much!