Good Eats

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Science. It tastes good, don't it?"
—Episode #EA1H16: "A Taproot Orange"

Good Eats is a truly original and groundbreaking approach to the Cooking Show, and an example of what can happen when cable networks have narrow specialties (other than that).

Taking inspiration not only from its cooking show predecessors, but from gonzo kids' Science Shows like Beakman's World and Bill Nye the Science Guy, Good Eats blends informative lessons on cooking techniques and ingredients with comedy, chemistry lessons, field trips to factories and labs (a la Mister Rogers), special guests, and Sitcom zaniness.

The show's host, Alton Brown, is also its creator and executive producer, as well as a triple-degree holder in television production, chemistry, and the culinary arts (explains a lot, doesn't it?). Before becoming a TV chef, he worked as a cinematographer on music videos, most notably the one for "The One I Love" by REM.

Good Eats is shot primarily in and around Brown's adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

Because of the zany, "Edutainment" nature of the show, you will find a lot of Tropes not otherwise found on cooking shows. A. Lot.

The show lasted from July 1999 to 2011. The longest-running consecutive series on Food Network (12 years), the show has now officially ended (with the exception of three hour-long specials). It's now being run on The Cooking Channel. A near-total compendium of episode guides and recipes have been compiled into three Good Eats companion books subtitled The Early Years, The Middle Years and The Later Years.

Tropes used in Good Eats include:
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In Season 7 episode "The Cookie Clause", Alton Brown mentions using cocoa powder to hide mistakes with coloring frosting. Santa turns to the camera, stroking his chin and murmuring "cocoa powder". The same actor who played Santa also plays Coco Carl, one of Alton's Sitcom Arch Nemeses.
    • The same actor also showed up as an appliance salesman in the souffle episode, leading to a You Look Familiar moment at the end of the scene.
  • Alliteration: Sometimes called "AB-speak" on the show, Alton likes launching silly salvos of wacky wordplay whenever he's got the gumption. Alton lampshades this in the Season 7 episode "True Brew IV: Take Stock" and the Season 11 episode "Sub Standards" where he claims he doesn't do it while he's doing it.
  • Adorkable: Both Alton and his "nephew" Elton.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: While the "holographic" sushi chef is not actually evil, he is a bit of a jerk.
  • Animesque: The "history lesson" animations in the tempura episode, appropriately enough.
  • Author Tract: The entire show is this. Brown began the series because he was frustrated with cooking shows that, while showing the audience what to do in a recipe, never explained why they should do it. This show is his way of fixing that...not that that's a bad thing.
  • Bad Boss: Certainly not in real life, but a couple of episodes portray Alton as this. The first ice cream episode has him making his nieces and nephews working an old-fashioned hand-cranked ice cream machine, while "Down and Out in Paradise" has him get stranded on a desert island because his crew deliberately tries to leave him behind on a sinking ship.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Paul in "Mission: Poachable".
  • Brand X: With few exceptions, episodes made after AB's own company took over production in 2001 have brand names obscured or replaced with a nonsense or joke name, even though the label designs can give away the stores where the products were purchased. Older episodes (Seasons 1-4) don't bother. Subverted in that whatever grocery store AB's shopping in (Kroger in the early episodes, Whole Foods in the later ones) will always be named on-screen; they've since built a grocery-store set to avoid this.

"Ha! 'Bob's,' only the best!"

  • Brick Joke: These tend to crop up a lot. For instance: When talking about guacamole in a dip show, Alton tosses his food processor out the window stating that it's too powerful to make good guacamole. Later on in the same show, he needs to blend some livers and turns to his food processor...which he threw out earlier, and hence begins to look sad. Thing brings back the food processor and Alton gets happy.
  • Butt Monkey: Alton's assistant Paul is usually on the rough side of things, however the actor playing him gets his own back as other LACTOSE MAN!
  • Canis Latinicus: While he does use the actual scientific names for various plants and critters, Alton is not above making up a few such as Greenus Bottlus and Blackus Incanius when describing common olives found in supermarkets.
  • Catch Phrase: Several.
    • Alton's exasperated "Oh bother!" This also counts as a Shout-Out, as Alton explained in the commentary from the "A Tale of Two Roasts" DVD:

Alton: You know, "Oh, Bother," that's from Winnie the Pooh, okay? Some of you don't remember ... You wouldn't think that Winnie the Pooh would be a regular reference for me. But I find that Pooh sums up a lot of ... He wasn't terribly bright. I'm not terribly bright either.

    • "It couldn't get any easier than this" was one that popped up frequently in the first season
    • "Walk away. Just walk away." (when warning the audience not to fiddle with cooking steps that would seem to invite fiddling. Often paired with:
    • "Your patience will be rewarded"
    • "Golden-brown, and delicious."
    • "I said it was good, I never said it was _______." ("Fast" or "low-fat" or "good for you", usually.)
    • "But that's another episode/show." (when he mentions something that will potentially be the subject of its own episode. Sometimes it's been addressed in an older episode, but more often than not the episode wasn't made at the time.) (The fans kept track.)
      • Lampshaded in the bread pudding episode where he delivers the line, then tells Thing to write it down. The camera pans over to show Thing writing in a gigantic binder labeled "...That's Another Show". Alton remarks "Wow, that's a thick book." Ironically, this was in one of the last episodes to be aired, so unless there's a Spiritual Sequel...
    • "By weight, please." This is to remind viewers that ingredients like flour and sugar must be measured by weight and not volume.
    • "Stuffing is evil." This was coined during the Thanksgiving episode and thrown back in his face repeatedly in future episodes. He eventually relents and has a stuffing episode where he shows his way to make turkey with stuffing.
    • "Like the hat?" This one was popularized by a YouTube uploader adding a clip of Alton saying this from the first season episode The Egg-Files after a long obnoxious title card at the start of every episode uploaded.
    • "I'm not a doctor, but that HAD to hurt!" comes up a few times, and not always from Alton; Lactose Man uses it after socking one of Alton's crew in the gut.
    • "You know, I'm really sorry we haven't worked out that scratch-and-sniff TV out yet." In later seasons, "Ahhh, just smell that _____. Oh, I'm sorry, you can't. That was mean."
  • Christmas Episode: There are at least three. One for fruitcake, one for cookies, and another about various Christmastime foods.
  • Cold Opening: Every episode starts with this. In the first few seasons, this led to a a Title Drop that preceded the title card. Nowadays, Alton stops just before the Title Drop, which then cues the title card.
  • Courtroom Antics: Played off in "The Case For Butter", set at the mock trial case The People v. Butter. AB comes to the defense of the misunderstood dairy product.
  • Curse Cut Short: "My long island iced tea is as cold as a witch's--" "Hey! Hey!"
  • Dan Browned: Veteran homebrewers have accused Alton of this due to the Season 6 episode "True Brew III: Amber Waves". It got to the point that Alton issued a public apology, but what the veteran homebrewers often forget is that the episode was taking the perspective of a first-time homebrewer, and much of the advice Alton gives is also given by brewing shops to entry-level homebrewers.
  • The Devil: Appears (and gets beaten up) in at least two episodes (pocket pies and tamales), and also in the devil's food cake episode.
  • Desert Island: Gets abandoned on one by his crew when they leave a sinking ship without him, so he spends the episode cooking the sorts of things you find on desert islands. Also, it's not really a desert island. It's one of the Hawaiian islands and he's less than a mile from a city, but he has no idea, because he lost his glasses.
  • Disney Villain Death: The end of "Mission: Poachable" has the French Chef falling into his own lake of court bouillon in an attempt to prevent Alton from throwing a piece of liver into it. He lives.
  • Doing It for the Art: Alton doesn't make any money off of Good Eats itself, instead pouring what would be his salary back into the show's budget. He makes all his money off of merchandise, writing, and advertising (like the series of ads for Welch's grape juice).
  • Don't Try This At Home: Parodied and played straight, often in the same episode. If Alton is talking about doing something potentially dangerous (such as consuming dishes containing raw meat or eggs, working with caustics, or using burning charcoal inside the house), the Food Police or his "lawyers" Itchy and Twitchy will often show up to stop him, forcing him to find a different (and safer) way to do the same thing.
    • This becomes a Running Gag with raw eggs--while he can usually mention pasteurized eggs and avoid problems, sometimes the Food Police will confiscate the dish anyway...
    • Subverted in one episode, where scrolling text at the bottom of the screen says "Do try this at home...but be careful, won't you?"
    • In the Season 11 episode "Pretzel Logic", Alton's lawyers stopped him from using lye to brown his pretzels, because lye is poisonous and extremely caustic if handled improperly.

"Who would have thunk those guys would have a problem with a little 'lye'?"

  • Doom Doors: The show uses both the door sound effect and the imp dying noise. Yeah, in a cooking show.
  • Drop-In Character: Alton's annoying TV sister Marsha, as well as several real-life experts on food science, nutrition, and nutritional anthropology. The experts show up when needed; Marsha just drops in to force Alton to make her cookies, donuts, soup, etc. Alton also plays some of these characters, such as his Evil Twin.
    • One Running Gag is that the nutritional anthropologist will appear out of nowhere whenever her title is mentioned, leading Alton to joke about how he's being stalked ("...she's back there, isn't she?..."). In later episodes, he'll have an obviously negative reaction to saying the title, and in one case hesitates to say it...but she shows up anyway and says it herself.
      • After a while she started to just show up unannounced, and Alton will grumble that he doesn't even have to say it anymore.

Alton: (looks into the camera) "All right! Which one of you said it!"

      • Alton actually found a very good-looking replacement N.A. for the "substitutions" episode whom he had no problems sharing the screen with, only for the incumbent to shuffle her off the show.
  • Dutch Angle: All. The. Time.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first 4 seasons (1999-2001) are quite a bit different from the later ones.
    • All 4 of the early seasons were shot on a completely different set, the same kitchen where the pilots were shot in 1997 (the small kitchen with the white-on-white color scheme). Also, the pilots (which became "Steak Your Claim" and "This Spud's For You") were shot on film, not video.
    • Brand names were never greeked, and the grocery store segments were shot at a local Kroger instead of at the Whole Foods used later on.
    • The first season was almost an entirely different show. BGM was used sparingly, if at all, and there was a lot more emphasis on object lessons and field trips than the zany skits of the later seasons. Also, glitches with location recording were common, leading to a lot of obviously looped dialogue. The on-screen text was also in a Totally Radical late-1990s display font, something that went away after that season.
  • Elvis Has Left the Planet: Trope name-dropped in the Season 5 episode "The Trouble with Cheesecake".
  • Estrogen Brigade Bait: Jean-Claude (aka JC) from Feasting on Asphalt. Being French helps.
  • Evil Twin: Alton's "brother" B.A. (played by Alton in "tough guy" clothes and with an attitude). This was actually inverted in one episode, where it was revealed in the last few minutes that B.A. played the entire episode as Alton.
  • Eye Scream: Yes, they manage to fit this in on a cooking show. Perhaps it's only natural if one were to draw eyebrows around the "eyes" of a coconut just before putting a drill to them.
  • Food Porn: Mostly averted, and notable in being one of the only Food Network shows that does. This doesn't mean there aren't plenty of drool-worthy moments though.
    • Alton specifically says that he prefers to focus on taste and convenience with serving his dishes. He even teased fellow network host Giada de Laurentiis in a Food Network special with "You're one of those people that eats with their eyes, aren't you?" when she insisted on making a nice pretty plate instead of just presenting something in the dish it was baked in.
  • For Science!: In "Ginger: Rise of the Rhizome", Alton convinces his cameraman to try out the Vomitron by saying "Do it for science!"
  • French Jerk/French Cuisine Is Haughty:
    • The mad French chef from the early episodes.
    • The chefs and waitresses from the bouillabaisse episode, who not only tell Alton he can't make the dish properly, but actively try to sabotage his efforts. When he finally does make it, they taste it and declare it crap (despite the fact that they finish the whole thing).
  • Funny Background Event: In the opening for "Feeling Punchy", Alton discusses a bit of the history of punch while standing near a table with a punchbowl. Behind him, a little old lady pours a whole bottle of liquor into the bowl and starts handing out cups to everyone (including Alton, who nearly does a Spit Take when he tastes it).
    • Throughout the entire nut episode, a squirrel constantly appears in the background and steals from whatever nuts AB was discussing or working with when he turned his back.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Milk Made" has an old-time milkman come to Alton's door with a bundle of flowers...which he quickly discards when he sees he's speaking to Mister Brown. Alton doesn't seem to understand. See also the "Yeast Inflection" joke below.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck:
    • Alton throws in the occasional "Goshdarn it!" every now and then.
    • The Spin-Off show Feasting on Asphalt features a sprinkling of very mild profanity here and there, as well as a deeply heartfelt utterance of "GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY!"
    • Slightly subverted during the final three-hour special, "Turn on the Dark;" you can hear AB shout a short "Ah, damn it!" through clenched teeth, after he put his hand on an ostensibly hot cacao bean grinder.
  • Hand Puppet:
    • Most microorganisms on the show are played by hand puppets, and the most common are the burping, farting yeast sock puppets.
    • Dolls and puppets are also used to illustrate cooking concepts, such as the feuding "boxer" puppets Tender and Flaky who show up when Alton is discussing pastries or pie crusts.
      • The chicken and dumpling revives the boxer puppets as representing Alton's mother and mother-in-law, as well as their conflicting views on how to prepare dumplings.
    • In the Season 13 episode "Good Eats Turns 10", a puppet of Alton attempts a Hostile Show Takeover.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Alton uses a puppet one of these to convince people that rabbits deserve to be eaten.
  • Heroic BSOD: W has one in the cole slaw show, after being told the morning show she's guesting on is live, and proceeds to stare blankly into the camera for the rest of the segment.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: In the Season 9 episode "Dis-Kabob-Ulated", Alton tests barbecue skewers on a voodoo doll of W, with painful results for her.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Multiple examples, though most notably with Alton's original rule that "By and large, stuffing is evil" in his first Thanksgiving episode. After that, members of his cast and staff were quick to jump onto Alton whenever he attempted stuffing or filling a food, which he then had to justify or insist that he only meant "stuffing turkeys was evil". Eventually, he recanted the evilness of stuffing altogether with an episode devoted to finding a safe and flavorful method to stuffing turkey, although the phrase has reappeared in a recent Christmas Episode on a card.
  • Identity Amnesia/Amnesia Episode: The basis for the plot of the seventh season episode "Ill Gotten Grains".
  • The Idiot From Osaka: Played with in the Japanese cuisine segment.

Alton: "Konnichiwa!"
Japanese Store Owner: "Konnichiwa! (unintelligible muttering)"
Alton: "I didn't catch that. (to camera) Must be from Osaka."

  • Incredibly Lame Pun: During the pizza special, Alton is insulted by the "Mad French Chef" for not blooming his yeast gently in warm sugar water. When Alton explains how instant yeast doesn't need to be pampered, the Mad French Chef crushes his paper hat on Alton's head and storms off muttering angrily to himself leading Alton to look at the camera and say "I guess he didn't care for my yeast inflection."
  • Irishman and a Jew: A scene explaining how corned beef came (erroneously) to be associated with Irish cuisine employed a Jewish rabbi and and Irish priest sitting in a bar. After some dialogue and an explanation[1] from Alton's nutritional anthropologist, we get the set-up to a corny old-fashioned joke: "A priest, a rabbi, and a nutritional anthropologist walk into a bar..." Then Alton, the priest, and the rabbi all roll their eyes and get up to leave.
  • It's Been Done: One episode opens with Alton announcing he'll be testing common food urban legends, today, on "Culinary Mythbust--" Then the phone rings. One quick conversation involving "copyright infringement" and "fines" later, it's "Culinary Myth Smashers".
  • It Came From the Fridge: Subverted. The Lady of the Refrigerator appears inside Alton's fridge to discuss the nutritional benefits of featured foods.
  • Just Plane Wrong: In the Season 11 episode "The Wing and I", Alton starts off explaining how wings--aircraft wings, at least--generate lift, by invoking Bernoulli's Principle. This explanation is correct in some ways, but not in others. A more accurate description would have taken a lot more time to explain, which is why this one is forgivable, especially since this explanation is very commonly used--even in textbooks. Aircraft engineers still write paragraphs of rants on why Alton is wrong when they see this episode.
  • Large Ham: (jumps in) "I'M LACTOSE MAN!" (punches someone in the gut) "I'm not a doctor, but that HAD to hurt! I'M LACTOSE MAN!" (jumps out)
    • Alton himself is pretty hammy in front of and behind the camera; just watch Feasting on Asphalt.
  • Larynx Dissonance: In the Season 1 episode "Romancing the Bird", Alton argues with his Aunt Verna about the temperature of the oven. Aunt Verna says in a deep masculine voice "I never liked you anyway!" and storms off.

Alton (wide-eyed): A lot of my childhood questions...just got answered.

  • Leitmotif: Marsha has one, as does W (a Jimmy Hart version of Bond's theme song) and Alton's Evil Twin; Alton's show neighbors (Chuck and Mr. McGregor) share one as well.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the cracker episode, the inventor of the Graham cracker condemns the newfangled picture-box where "you can watch lascivious meals being prepared every hour of the day." Alton responds: "Well, I wouldn't know anything about that..."
  • Left Hanging: Alton has announced that episode 249, Use Your Noodle V, will be the last regular series episode. He still dropped his, "that's another show" catch phrase. In fact, four episodes earlier, he lampshaded the catch phrase by showing a big book of "another episode" topics. Barring any specials, we may never see those episodes.
  • Long Runners: Premiered on Food Network in July 1999.
  • MacGuffin: Lampshaded with the character Blair McGuffin in "Behind the Bird".
  • MacGyvering: AB builds such devices as steamers, smokers, and yogurt makers from household items and hardware store purchases...and teaches the viewer how to do the same.
    • Usually he does this not only because it's cheaper, but because every time he starts building one (or is forced to go buy more cookware) he brings up the fact that there's only one unitasker he'll abide in his kitchen, and if you're doing things right you shouldn't have to use it at all--a fire extinguisher. And in the 10th-Anniversary special, he uses that in a dish too.
    • Lampshaded in the gyro episode, in which he preceded a vision of him constructing an elaborate homemade rotisserie with several pieces of hardware including a small motor by saying "If you want rotisserie at home, we're gonna have to think like MacGyver." Amusingly, he then acknowledges that it's not worth the trouble and explains how to make a gyro loaf in the oven instead.
    • In the smoked fish episode, Alton muses that MacGyver isn't his patron saint for nothing.
    • In more recent episodes, the music that plays whenever he builds something is clearly influenced by MacGyver's theme.
  • The Men in Black: They usually show up in groups of three to give government standards on foods and food safety. Alton is almost always the leader, and talks in a stereotypical fast-paced, overly serious tone.
  • Musical Pastiche / Theme Tune Cameo: The stings and bumpers are all variations on the Theme Tune, played in completely different (and frequently apropos) music styles. Even the 10-count tones for 10-second countdowns are the tones of the theme. He's even played the theme on a number pad for a security door.
  • Not Actually the Ultimate Question: When Deb Duchon shows up after the umpteenth time after Alton says "Nutritional Anthropologist", he asks "How do you do this?" She replies with "Study. Write papers. Go to conferences. What do you mean?"
  • No OSHA Compliance: Alton opens up a thermos with a buzzsaw and sparks can be seen flying all over the place, yet nobody--not even the two construction workers--has any safety goggles on. This was one of the obviously goofier scenes and didn't take place at a real construction site, however.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: With the Food Police or his "lawyers" Itchy and Twitchy.
  • Patron Saint: Alton has claimed that MacGyver is his. (See MacGyvering above.)
  • Product Placement: Almost completely averted; see You Wanna Get Sued? below for ways that the show gets around mentioning products by brand name. However, Alton has specifically mentioned Old Bay seasoning in at least one episode, and if you pay attention to the label designs it's easy to tell which stores ingredients are bought from, even with the names changed or blanked out.
  • Prop Recycling: In the Orange Aid episode, a video used in Oat Cuisine is recycled to explain why sugar is added after the cooking is done. This is Lampshaded by Alton Brown.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. Alton often stutters and "um's" and "uh's" his way through many of his monologues because he often pre-records them ahead of time and has them fed to him via an earpiece. Other times (such as skits with W or other characters), he memorizes his lines like an actor. Still other times (usually when explaining technical aspects and merits of various cooking gadgets), he works from a basic outline and pretty much ad-libs until he hits the points he needs to make.
  • Real Life Relative: Alton's mother appears in "Romancing The Bird"; his (now deceased) grandmother was in two episodes (fruitcake and biscuits); his daughter appears in several episodes, especially in the most recent season; but his wife (who is also a producer) has yet to appear outside of the curtain call on the 10th Anniversary special.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • W's depiction in early episodes as a Virtual Ghost came about because Vicki Eng was out of the country trying to adopt a child, and had to film her appearances in advance.
    • In The Early Years, Alton says we probably won't be seeing Elton anymore because his actor, John Herina, was in college, a football player, and taller than AB, which would undermine his role as The Watson. The Middle Ages further elaborates that the college in question was West Point.
  • Reconstruction: A lot of the dishes and ingredients featured on the show are things many people hated from their childhood (mussels, peas, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes just to name a few). Alton shows how to cook them properly in order to ensure that they're actually quite tasty, and often quite easier to prepare properly rather than improperly (which is often what leads to the nasty flavors and textures people dislike anyway).
  • Recurring Riff: The show's theme, with different instruments and different musical styles.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The adorable, burping yeast sock puppets...'nuff said.
  • Running Gag: People taking Alton's food.
    • Played Straight here:

(On a cracker episode) Unnamed Girl: "May I?" Alton: "Sure... "(Girl takes all his crackers) Alton: 'She took my crackers."

    • Another Running Gag: "Go wash those (nasty) [fill in the blank] hands!!"
  • Seppuku:
    • In an episode about sauces, Alton does this to himself while dressed up as a sunflower to show where starch comes from.
    • In a later show, after being chastised for carrying miso that has MSG in it, a "Japanese" store owner threatens to do this.
  • Sequel Hook: AB's Catch Phrase "...But that's another show."
  • Science Marches On / Tech Marches On: Often, Alton's explanations and guidelines on whether to do (or not do) and use (or not use) a certain thing change with the seasons due to new studies, new technology, or changes in commercial foods. Sometimes, he will address his previous guidelines and explain how things have changed--but this doesn't stop Negative Nellies from pouncing on what they think are examples of Alton not doing his homework. (It's certainly happened on this page, to say nothing of any Good Eats clip on YouTube!)
    • Of particular note, Alton's stance on frying machines.[2]
    • Then there's Alton's use of shortening.[3]
    • Curiously enough, some of these changes appear due to Brown's and Food Network's influence. Items like Microplane graters and chimney starters were relatively hard to find back in 1999, but today are available at any store with a cooking section or barbecue display.
  • Self-Deprecation: Done to himself a few times, but "Behind The Bird" contains a playful jab at Alton's hometown of Atlanta, as a couple of inches of snow is enough to shut down the city (which, for the record, is Truth in Television).
  • Shout-Out: Possibly too many to list here, since the show loves gratuitous pop culture references. Marathon Man ("Is it saaaaaaaafe?") is one popular target, as are other Food Network personalities (especially Emeril Lagasse and his "BAM!" shtick, though now that Emeril's left Food Network, Alton seems to prefer tweaking Rachael Ray instead). There's also been a few instances of the show referencing itself, usually by quoting older episodes in the context of whatever the newer episode is doing. Also, see Something Completely Different below.
    • The entire Season 12 episode "Oh My, Meat Pie" is one huge Sweeney Todd shout out. It also had an Edward Scissorhands Shout-Out when Mr. Todd is chopping up vegetables.
    • His character of "The Waffler" in his waffle-making episode was clearly inspired by the same named recruitment-reject character in Mystery Men...except without the burny parts.
      • His outfit seems closer to Crow T. Robot's Willy the Waffle Sprite costume from Mystery Science Theater 3000. He's even got a W cut out from a waffle on his head.
      • Plus he has a little puppet theater called the Mystery Food Science Theater complete with little opening doors.
    • "I told you not to cross the streams!" (Of glowing, yellow "frosting"/flocking)
    • "This is my favorite peel, Emma."
    • "This is America! Goose sat behind Maverick!"
    • Alton has a tendency to channel Jack Benny with his Aside Glance.
    • On several occasions, AB has asked people to name things that float, and once he did the list himself. "Ducks", "small rocks", and one time, "witches".
      • In his book Good Eats: The Early Years, Alton openly admits that the opening of "What's Up Duck?" is a nod to Holy Grail.
    • Speaking of Monty Python, the animations featured in later-season episodes are done in a pastiche of Terry Gilliam's style. They even used the Liberty Bell march as BGM on more than one occasion.[4]
    • In "Tamale Never Dies", while talking about the contributions ancient civilizations made to corn, Alton says "Without the Aztecs, we wouldn't have the Alien vs. Predator films, now would we?" It's a reference to the film's ancient Predators using ships that looked like Aztec and Egyptian pyramids to reach Earth.
    • In the Season 13 episode "Feeling Punchy", when Alton says that one of the classic elements of a good punch is spice, his assistant intones "He who controls the spice controls the universe!"; Alton tells him to lay off the sci-fi.
      • In the same segment, he plays the commanding officer of a EITC ship who dunks a Dutchman in icy waters to get ice for his punch recipe. Alton apologizes to him, saying "Sorry about your ship, just business, nothing personal, you know."
    • "Tamale Never Dies" is a play at James Bond, and during the episode Alton's fridge has Alton himself drawn as Bond, complete with stylized title. The episode, however, contains a parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark. "Raising the Bar" featured an appearance by James Bond in "person", where Alton took his signature drink order ("Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred") then proceeded to make the drink with gin and stirred it (with reasons for both steps). "Bond" loved the drink.
    • The "King and I" episode features a segment where Alton is offering free samples of hot sauce to the boyfriend of a passing couple (to provide an example of a study conducted that showed the eating of spicy food had connections to mating rituals). The girlfriend first calls her bravado-filled boyfriend "Pumpkin", which seems relatively normal. After he rushes off to find sour cream and Alton explains why the boyfriend downed the hot sauce, the following dialogue ensues:

Girlfriend: You mean...he really loves me?
Alton: Well, I would call it--yeah. He loves you.
Girlfriend (chasing after boyfriend): Pumpkin! Honey Bunny! I'm gonna come make it all better!

    • The entire scallop episode is a parody of Jaws.
    • From the episode about pomegranates--in the segment about grenadine syrup's use in cocktails, Alton demonstrates by making a Tequila Sunrise. When he's done, he proudly presents it with the comment "There you are--an Eagles concert in a glass!"
    • Any time someone mentions New York City on the show, expect everyone in the scene to yell "NEW YORK CITY?!"
    • Thing is said to be a relative of Thing from The Addams Family.
    • In the pomegranate episode they bring the fake doctor bit back and Alton cheerfully describes a jell-o dish he made as, "A dessert that even Nurse Ratched could love!"
    • The dark chocolate special is named "Turn On the Dark", and in order to illustrate the old adage "Good things come in small packages", Alton pulls out the actual Noisy Cricket prop from Men in Black.
    • In "Porterhouse Rules", Alton depicts the enzymes in steaks as bunch of cogwheels that stop spinning, and when they do, Alton, as a factory worker, leaps on top of one and starts tightening the bolts.
  • Shown Their Work: Alton goes over the chemical processes behind certain cooking maneuvers in the kitchen to help explain to viewers the rationale behind various recipes. Alton also commonly starts off an episode with a brief overview on the history or origins of the food he's covering, citing various works or historians in the process. This invites a lot of faultfinding from Negative Nellies looking for a reason to yell "Did Not Do the Research!"
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis:
    • "Cocoa Carl", a maker of awful processed foodstuffs.
    • "The French Chef", a representative of the snooty, uptight traditional cooking establishment.
    • Alton and W view each other like this, too; W often treats Alton like walking Snark Bait, while Alton tends to deliberately antagonize her in return. This is because he usually prefers his homebrew knockups, and W makes her living selling devices that have one function (of which Alton has a pronounced disdain).
    • In the Season 1 episode "Pantry Raid I: Use Your Noodle", some scenes featured him side-by-side with "The Anti Alton", who went out of his way to do everything Alton wouldn't do when cooking pasta. (Anti-Alton would later be revealed to be "B.A." Brown, Alton's Evil Twin.)
    • Lactose Man could also apply given that his only function is to sock Alton (and others) in the gut when they eat lactose-laden food, and shout "I'M LACTOSE MAN!" in overwrought fashion.
  • Something Completely Different: Occasionally, an episode takes on the form of a completely different show.
    • One episode was a combined parody of Junkyard Wars and Iron Chef
    • The cole slaw episode was set up like a morning talk show on which AB appeared as a guest.
    • AB did his entire chili show in character as an old west cowboy...then returned to his kitchen as himself and wondered who had been using it.
    • There was also an episode titled "Mission: Poachable". It's not hard to figure that one out.
    • The tropical food episode was a parody of Cast Away.
    • "Water Works I" and "Water Works II" featured no actual cooking, and instead Alton talks about water sources and filtration.
    • "Ill Gotten Grains" and "This Spud's for You Too" are Whole Plot References to Stephen King's Misery, with the Loony Fan even resembling Kathy Bates' portrayal of Annie Wilkes.
  • Space Whale Aesop: In "Tortillas Again", the lesson learned is:

Alton: If you don't play wise with your leftovers, you'll end up with people picketing your house, your crew abandoning you, and of course, you'll be infested by some strange little fairy-type person.

  • Spin-Off: Feasting on Asphalt featured Alton and his camera crew crossing America by motorcycle and trying different foods from different places. Season 3, titled Feasting On Waves, moved to the Caribbean and switched out the bikes for boats.
  • Start My Own: How the show came about. Alton was dissatisfied with other popular cooking programs mostly because they never tell you why you should do certain things and take certain steps when preparing food. His wife then challenged him to make his own show.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Don't say it! Did someone call for a culinary anthropologist?
  • Techno Wizard: "W", named in honor of James Bond's "Q", is the harried kitchen appliance retailer who supplies info about whatever new machine Alton needs that episode.
    • She doesn't seem to appreciate the job, possibly because in her capacity as "W" Alton is her only customer; other characters, such as a dentist who employs her part-time as an assistant, refer to her as "Ms. Wong".
      • W has had a bit of an interesting story arc--she started as something of a Virtual Ghost, appearing on giant screens behind Alton and on microwave doors and so forth. Then she becomes real, managing the Bed Bath & Beyond where he shops. Then, apparently, he hires her onto his organization, as she only shows up in a "lab" type of environment, testing and evaluating products.
        • And of course, he points out in Behind the Eats that in real life, Vicki knows about zilch about cooking.
  • This Loser Is You: Literally. The show takes on a first-person perspective when Alton teaches the audience how to make breakfast in the Season 13 episode "Man Food II", with the Audience Surrogate being a 32-year-old loser whose mother comes over every morning to make him breakfast (and, as we see at the end of the episode, do his laundry).
  • This Means War: Versus the Mad French Chef in "Mission: Poachable" and against the snooty cupcake shop maître d' in "Honey, I Shrunk the Cake".
  • Title Drop: Practically every episode. It gets lampshaded and played with quite a bit.
  • Torture Technician: A "cackling Igor" Torture Technician supplies Alton with tortilla-making implements and a few other delightful terrors, like a device that uses blades for tenderizing meat. Alton addresses him as "Dungeon Master", which, given the nature of the show, may well be his actual name. He seems to be renting Alton's dungeon basement solely for the opportunity to do this particular job, because his lease favors the landlord heavily; Alton can evict him at a moment's notice if he's not happy with his tenant's job performance.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Kosher salt, because it's easier to pinch and dissolves better.
    • Since Alton never had iodized salt as a kid, its usage just doesn't taste right to him. He will use table salt when / if the occasion calls for it, however.
    • He's also said that cumin is his favorite spice, and that mangoes are his favorite fruit.
    • He's carried a whole nutmeg around with him in his pocket, for years, so that he can make freshly-grated nutmeg whenever and wherever he needs it.
  • Up to Eleven: Courtesy of Alton's toaster-fanboy assistant Paul in the episode "Behind the Bird":

Paul: I made this one. It goes to eleven!
Blair: Why not just make ten higher?
Paul: But it goes to eleven!
Alton: Okay, hey! You know what, Paul? Time out! Time out! (sends Paul to the corner)

  • Viewers are Morons: A rare case of this being a good thing, and in a way the point of the show. Alton almost never assumes the viewer knows anything, even things that have been demonstrated in previous episodes, and carefully explains how and why to do every step of a recipe.
  • The Watson:
    • Chuck, in many of his appearances.
    • Alton will also use the non-existent Fourth Wall to use the audience as a Watson ("I know what you're thinking....")
    • Inverted in "The Fungal Gourmet", where the fourth-wall "character" makes suggestions to a clueless Alton.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Exclaimed by Alton to Shirley Corriher (the food scientist), but he's got more than his fair share as well.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Brett the Dutch Girl, who was first seen in the donut episode and has shown up as a German girl and a Colonial girl in later episodes.
    • In one of the books based on the show, Alton says that the practice of putting a guy in a dress when an ugly woman is needed is another Monty Python influence.
  • Write Who You Know:
    • W, aka Vicki Wong, is played by Alton's chiropractor, Vickie Eng.
    • In the book Good Eats: The Early Years, Alton says that everyone who works on the show does so with the understanding that, one day, they'll be appearing on-camera in some capacity. Thus many characters in the series are members of the staff (exceptions are actual food experts such as Deb Duchon the nutritional anthropologist, Shirley Corriher, and a few recurring characters that are hired actors such as Marsha, Elton, Cocoa Carl, Chuck, etc).
  • X Meets Y:
    • The very premise of the show: mixing a Cooking Show with a Science Show.
    • In the 10th-Anniversary special, Alton explained his original idea for the show as Julia Child meets Mr. Wizard meets Monty Python.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Alton says this almost word-for-word in "American Classics 7: Don't Be Chicken of Dumplings", when the actors who play his lawyers Itchy and Twitchy turn up a couple of minutes later as Robin Hood and Wilfred of Ivanhoe.
    • He does say it word for word several times, in the popcorn show, and the souffle to the oven salesman (the same actor that plays Coco Carl)

Oven salesman: No I don't. (flees)

  • You Wanna Get Sued?:
    • When referring to Ritz crackers, Alton explains he has to avoid using the trademark but instead holds up the cracker.
    • He performs a similar tactic for moon pies in the Season 11 episode "Puff The Magic Mallow".

Alton: "Now, if you grew up in the South as I did, you'll know exactly what to call these. But since that name is copyrighted, I'll remain mum on the subject."
(two hands pop up in the background, one holding a picture of the moon, the other holding a pie)

    • The MythBusters gag under It's Been Done.
    • In the Halloween candy episode "Tricks for Treats", Alton references Tootsie Rolls without actually using the name by holding up one of the old-style, cigar-sized pieces.
    • In the popcorn episode, Alton tapdances around the name "Cracker Jacks", referring to it as "the snack from that song, you know, Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and later as " know". He even packs his version in Brand X boxes bearing the name Slacker Jacks.
    • Alton says "I hope this helps" and has the Kool-Aid Man burst through a brick wall when a recipe called for Kool-Aid packets, although instead of a pitcher it was a glass. The glass cites budget reasons.
    • "Three Chips for Sister Marsha" features him making variations on the original Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe and encourages the viewers to follow along with the recipe which is available on the back of any yellow bag of chocolate chips. (Read: Nestle Chocolate Chips)
      • He did actually call them Nestle chips, and you could see the logo on the bag. He just couldn't read out the entire recipe.
  1. (Before the Great Famine, a fairly typical Irish dish was boiled bacon with potatoes and cabbage; when destitute immigrants arrived in New York City, they found that bacon was too scarce and expensive, so they replaced it with corned beef, which they purchased from stores owned by their new Jewish neighbors.)
  2. In early episodes, Alton eschewed the use of them in favor of a dutch oven or pot with a fry thermometer. By the first "Man Food Show" episode he worked with a electric fryer, explaining that modern models work better and are safer to use (and was a better approach for the corndogs he was making as it allowed the food to stay in the fat while the sticks stay out)...but he went right back to using the dutch oven and thermometer in the next season. Eventually, in the Season 10 episode "Tortillas Again", he explained why he went back to dutch ovens, saying that despite all the improvements, electric fryers still don't manage heat very well in terms of maintaining temperature between each batch, which leads to greasy food. He's also said that a heavy pot or dutch oven is better because it allows the cooking food more freedom to move around and thus cook more evenly.
  3. In early episodes, Alton used vegetable shortening in quite a few episodes--for example, when making biscuits. In the Season 3 episode "The Case for Butter", Alton showcases the then-recent studies that revealed that the trans fats used in shortening are actually less healthy than the fats in butter. Since then, several vegetable shortening manufacturers have introduced "low" or "zero" trans fat versions of their products, but as Alton notes in the Season 9 episode "The Waffle Truth", companies can claim their products are fat free if the serving they recommend has less than half a gram of fat.
  4. (In "Raising the Bar", the classic cocktails episode, and in the one-hour Thanksgiving special "Romancing the Bird", wherein Brown makes cornbread pudding while blindfolded.)