The most memorable treats are the most simple. While digital food doesn’t have the same sensory effects as its real life counterpart, we still identify video game foods with fond memories, mirroring the feelings that our playable characters get when they have their fill. Sometimes, food influences an entire franchise, anchoring itself into the story to the point of becoming a quest item, or the source of superpowers. Today we look at the most important and memorable video game foods in history.
7. Nuka-Cola – Fallout
Nuka-Cola will be the only beverage on this list of top video game foods. Sure, it’s not technically a food, but the association between Fallout and Nuka-Cola is too strong to leave out. The drink was made in such excess due to its popularity, that it survived a nuclear holocaust and 200 years post-Great War. Nuka-Cola’s the most popular video game drink of all-time, and it would be a shame to leave it out on a technicality. Also, what would replace it? Sunset Sarsaparilla? Pfft.
Nuka-Cola has such a hold on Fallout that Bethesda created missions centered around finding limited edition Nuka-Cola Quantums. Doing so would reward the player with a blueprint for Nuka grenades. To add to the drink’s depth, it had its own theme park which released as full DLC for Fallout 4.
Aside from Nuka-Cola’s sugar content – 120% of the recommended daily allowance of sugar – the drink did offer players +20 HP, +10 AP, and +5 Rads. It’s too bad that its real life counterpart doesn’t heal wounds.
6. Cherry – Pac-Man
Pac-Man and food go hand-in-hand. There’s an argument that the ghosts are food, but that’s cannibalistic and weird. Instead, we’ll opt for the more nutritious option: fruit.
Cherries are the first fruit Pac-Man munches on in his self-titled game. More people have been exposed to the cherry more than any other fruit in Pac-Man, probably because they won’t play past the first level. While it doesn’t enhance Pac-Man as a being, this consumable offers a considerable bonus if the player goes out of their way to eat the fruit.
Clearly those are good cherries. After 40 years in the business, Pac-Man is still hungry and out for blood.
5. The Giant Omelette – Neopets
Neopets might soon come to an end, now that Adobe Flash ceased all support for the program. Back in the early 2000s, Neopets was an OG refuge for kids to spend their time after school, playing games like Meerca Chase, Chia Bomber, or Evil Fuzzles. At the game’s peak, it had 25 million players worldwide in 2005. It’s difficult arguing the validity of Neopets inclusion on this list when it had a larger playerbase in one year than units Frogger has ever sold in its history.
Nostalgia aside, food was a major component of this website. Caring for your Neopet meant playing, giving clothing items, and making sure the pet was well fed. The Giant Omelette was created by cracking dinosaur eggs according to Neopets lore (yeah, we said lore), and players, regardless of wealth, could take a piece of omelette for free once a day. An example of socialism at its finest, this food ensured your Grundo named asoinfsdgulbjc2938 was fed and happy every day.
4. Bananas – Donkey Kong
Bananas are the item most associated with Donkey Kong, more so even than his bongos. It’s more than a means of survival, as bananas are the food that gives Donkey Kong extra lives. While they’re essential to his health, bananas can be weaponized to subdue DK’s foes. Weaponized bananas sound super dramatic, but consider their use in: Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros.
Golden Bananas were also a key item in Donkey Kong 64, since you needed to collect a certain amount to unlock areas guarded by King K. Rool’s minion, B. Locker.
It’s difficult to imagine Nintendo without the influence of Donkey Kong. The introduction of bananas gave a simple fruit a powerful use across multiple games in the Nintendo catalog. As Donkey Kong and Mario continue to sever their old rivalry, the banana is a video game food that continues to link their two stories together.
3. The Sandvich – Team Fortress 2
Amidst the chaos, there’s always time for a Sandvich. After over 50 million copies of Team Fortress 2 sold, it’s difficult to imagine a time without The Sandvich. This iconic video game food has been an extension of the Heavy’s personality since 2008, and the subject of most obscure dank memes.
Sandvich has been a source of comfort, and a food of rejuvenation. The Heavy could rest easy knowing that after a control point is captured and their health is low, they can reach into their pocket and cram down a Sandvich, pulling them back up to full health. It’s the friend the Heavy has always needed.
2. Sweetroll- The Elder Scrolls
“Let me guess, someone stole your sweetroll?” – Stormcloak Soldier
These comforting pastries are such a soft spot in most Bethesda game players’ hearts, that players reading this will recoil as their resource-guarding tendencies kick in. It’s like taking a bone away from a dog. You just don’t do it.
The consistent references of sweetrolls in The Elder Scrolls games over time became so embedded in the franchise that it bled over to be a pivotal growth moment for the Lone Wanderer as a child in Fallout 3’s Vault 101. I don’t advocate hitting children, but if a boy named Butch walked up to me trying to steal my sweetroll made by Old Lady Palmer, I’d end his life.
“Saa-WEET-ROOOOOLL!” – Fimmion
Sweetrolls’ prominence also inspired missions in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which used sweetrolls as a form of currency for the player to gain information, and also to take Fimmion’s pants. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Wabbajack was a reward from the Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath. The Wabbajack was highly unpredictable, but if used, had the potential to polymorph enemies into sweetrolls.
The passion for the pretty pastry has paved a path to a pantry near you. Iconic food YouTuber, Binging With Babish, created an instructional video to recreate the iconic sweetroll, so that players can bring a little Tamriel back home.
1. Mushrooms – Mario
There isn’t a video game consumable more iconic than Mario’s Super Mushroom, the ultimate magic item and weapon upgrade that really isn’t magic or a weapon. The mushroom is the top of all video game foods, and the top video game consumable item of all time.
After almost a billion copies sold and downloaded of the franchise, it’s impossible to escape Mario and his dominance of the video game industry. The portly Italian plumber somehow took fungus and turned it into a superpower that extends his life to survive things like spikes, drowning, fireballs, and angry turtles.
Mushrooms come in all varieties in the world of Mario. The obvious was the Super Mushroom that enhanced Mario’s size. The effects would wear off in under 4 hours, so it was fine.
In other instances, mushrooms would be humanoids like Toad, the loyal servant to Princess Peach. Some mushrooms were bad guys, like the goombas. Paper Mario’s mushrooms sometimes looked like psychedelics. Point being, mushrooms shaped the very world Mario lived in, from its food and culture to its people and architecture.
While the concept generally isn’t thought about in a critical way, maybe that’s the impact that mushrooms in the Mario universe had on the playerbase. They weren’t something players questioned, but embraced and understood automatically. They’ve been so popularized and accepted that people have them as plush toys, decorations, and tattoos. The mushroom is more than a video game food, it’s what makes everyone super in their own way.