Feed by Example

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Suppose some animal, or child, or any other character doesn't want to eat what they're being fed; how will you get that food in them, without resorting to Force Feeding? Why, you feed by example, of course!

This is often done to imply that the character in question either didn't trust the food, or in the case of the Picky Eater, just might not expect it to taste good, wherein seeing someone else eat the same thing was enough to change their mind.

Of course, part of the problem with this is that just because some food is good for one creature doesn't mean it will be good for another; among those who take this into account even this approach might not be enough to convince them.

Another variation on this trope would be "so good, the taster eats everything." This is used more in commercials, where a parent might eat the whole jar of baby food instead of serving the child as they started.

Examples of Feed by Example include:


  • Tintin and the Picaros: When Calculus is spotted slipping something into the rebel's grub (anti-alcoholism pills), the rebels refuse to eat it, since you never know what kind of chemicals were in the pills. They're convinced when Snowy (after some convincing) chows down.


  • In Dolphin Tale, wherein all the more qualified aquatic life hospital employees didn't know how to convince Winter to drink from the bottle she needed to drink from, newcomer Sawyer came up with the idea to drink from it himself in front of her... and it worked.
  • Free Willy has a variant of this. Jesse tries throwing Willy the fish and it doesn't work, so he holds it up and pantomimes eating it. This leads to him eventually realizing Willy wants him to put the fish right into his mouth.


  • In some versions of the Snow White fairy tale, the wicked queen has poisoned only half of the apple, and to show Snow White that it is perfectly safe to eat, takes a bite from the side without the poison.

Live Action TV

  • House uses a similar tactic to get a low-functioning autistic kid to put on an oxygen mask, he refers to it as "eating the yellow berries".
  • Finding Bigfoot. James "Bobo" Fay once cooked up some bacon because he believes that "squatches" like the smell. He said that after the bacon was cooked he would throw pieces of it into the woods for them to eat, and he ate some to show any that were watching him that it was O.K. to eat it.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Dewey is given the task of feeding a very reluctant Jamie. To get him to eat, he eats a spoonful of the baby food. As it happens, baby food is apparently delicious, and Dewey spends the rest of the episode eating tons of baby food, along with wearing a onesy and diapers...

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy 5, one of the protagonists ate dragon-grass (which is poisonous to humans) to encourage an injured dragon to eat it (to heal the dragon's injuries).

Western Animation