Ever since Charlie Chaplin boiled a shoe for Thanksgiving in "Gold Rush,” film and food have been fast friends.
Food has been the backdrop to many memorable films such as "Chocolat,” "Big Night,” "Like Water for Chocolate,” "Ratatouille,” "Eat Drink Man Woman” and the Willy Wonka movies. But food’s greatest contribution to film has come in small doses.
Here are seven great moments in food and film:
.Cool Hand Luke bets he can eat 50 eggs in an hour.
With Paul Newman’s recent death, you’ll no doubt see a scene or image from "Cool Hand Luke” (1967) on Oscar night. Hopefully, it will be Luke’s attempting to stomach 50 hard-boiled eggs. The film was nominated for six Oscars, including Paul Newman for best actor. George Kennedy took home a supporting role Oscar, but Newman’s loss was highway robbery, and the proof is in how it’s been referenced and parodied ever since.
.James Cagney and the grapefruit.
"The Public Enemy” (1932) was nominated for a best picture Oscar and was the film that made James Cagney a star. A Times Square theater ran the movie around the clock upon its release. Without this film, there is no Edward G. Robinson and probably no "Godfather” series. In one scene, Cagney’s character breaks up with his girlfriend (Mae Clarke) at breakfast. Instead of "I’m just not that into you,” he takes a grapefruit half and smashes it into her face. Cagney wrote in an autobiography that Clarke’s ex-husband timed when the scene occurred, bought tickets, went in when the scene started and walked out after his ex got fruit-punked.
."Hold the chicken.
” "Five Easy Pieces” (1970) followed "Cool Hand Luke” and "Hud” in what became a stream of anti-hero movies in the post-hippie, pre-disco era. Jack Nicholson’s persona was born in this film, perhaps in this scene where his character requests substitutions to his breakfast order. His low-boil rejoinder is legendary: an increasingly hostile diatribe in which he orders way more than he wants, deconstructs the order and finally tells the waitress to "Hold the chicken.” When she dubiously says, "You want me to hold the chicken?” he recommends a specific place to do so.
Food appears throughout "The Godfather” series, which is no surprise considering director Francis Ford Coppola’s involvement in the wine and food business.