Lunch lies! Dinner deceits! Tasty truths!
July 21st, 2010
06:00 AM ET
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On Monday, we asked one simple question: Did your parents tell you any food fibs to entice you to eat or skip any foods?

And good grief, did your parents tell you the darndest things. Yeah, it's out of love, but wow, Mom and Dad, are your pants are on fire!

We've amassed a few of the over 500 food fallacies below, but first, a few mealtime myth busters.

Eating carrots does not give you night vision: During World War II, British Intelligence didn't want Germany to be aware of the newly developed radar technology assisting the Royal Air Force in shooting down enemy planes before they reached the English Channel. The government began planting stories in the papers, profiling an RAF pilot who credited his uncanny accuracy to his love of Vitamin A and beta carotene-containing carrots. Carrots are great for healthy eyesight, but won't make an avid chomper into a super-seer.

Eating too many carrots can turn you orange (or at least a muted yellow-orange color): Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a highly pigmented compound. An extreme excess of carotene in the bloodstream will build up under your skin, causing an yellow-orange discoloration (mostly evident on the bottom of the feet and palm of the hands). To get rid of the harmless orange hue, just lay off the carrots and other orange vegetables (like sweet potatoes) for a bit.

Hot, spicy foods on a sweltering day will cool you down: Fiery foods raise your body temperature slightly, bringing heat to the skin's surface and causing you to sweat. This perspiration will ultimately cause your body to cool down by evaporative cooling (temperature reduction through the evaporation of water).

Spinach makes you strong, but not that strong: Spinach was originally selected as Popeye's power source because of a German study which mistakenly attributed the vegetable with ten times the iron it actually packs. When the mistake was corrected in 1937, Popeye had already been gorging on the stuff for years and it was too late to backtrack.

Chocolate doesn't cause acne: 1950s dermatology books made the claim that chocolate causes acne, asserting that because chocolate is rich in fat and sebum (oil), consuming chocolate would cause the sebaceous glands to be affected. No studies have been able to show any association between chocolate and acne. To the contrary, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently reported that the flavanoids (antioxidants) in dark chocolate may actually help regulate sebum production, thus helping with acne.

Gum doesn't stay in your stomach for seven years: It's true that gum is indigestible, but it passes through the body's waste system like any food would.

And on to the comments.

Do you know the ice cream man?

My parents told me when the ice cream man played his music, it meant he was out. You lie!

We tell our kids it is the dancing machine, and when we hear it go by everyone has to stop and dance – they are 2 and 6, sure it won't be long until they catch on!

When I was little, the ice cream man would come by on his tricycle, bells ringing. My mom told me he was the fish man – he sold fish out of the cooler on the front of his large tricycle. Worked like a charm until the day my Grandpa bought me an ice cream bar. I don't know that she ever forgave him for that.

My favorite one, amongst many, was that the ice cream truck that frequented our neighborhood was full of ice cream that was expired from the grocery store.

Tastes like chicken

Kim H
I use to tell my son that salmon was "pink chicken" to get him to eat it.

"Try it, it's chicken": It was alligator. Followed by uproarious laughter from my mother.

My mother told me one time that eating chicken wings would enable me to fly! She didn't say how many it took, but I gave up flapping my arms while jumping off curbs after about the third meal worth of chicken wings. I still don't like 'em.

... Anything meat-related that wasn't easily identifiable was "special chicken" (fish, calamari, liver, oysters)

Not so white lies

Dr. Jar
Coca-Cola will turn your eyes brown.

Michael G
My great-grandma used to tell me, "Coffee makes your eyes black."

My parents used to tell me that eating rye bread would give me dark eyebrows.

My grandmother told us drinking coffee would make our toes turn black. To this day I still can't drink coffee, although I don't remember her toes being black.

The meat of the matter

Mr. T
Me: Why does Johnny's family eat steak all the time?
Dad: Well son, other families just can't afford to have their meat ground up the way we do.

Dr. Jar
Meat DOES NOT come from animals, it's grown on trees in Malaysia.

My mom used to tell us that liver was dinosaur meat.

[My son] asked me "what's this?" when I gave him a a hamburger (something that was hit or miss for him eating). We had just been talking about his Jurassic Park T-shirt, so I said "a Velociraptor." A few minutes later, he said in awed tones "I can't believe I'm eating dinosaur."

I feel pretty, oh-so pretty

My mother always told us to eat bananas because they make you beautiful.

My grandmother swore that burnt toast would make you pretty.

Linda Lou
I always got, "eat the [bread] crust - it makes you pretty."

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soundoff (290 Responses)
  1. oogmar

    If I asked what something was in the little-kid tone of "I'm not going to eat that", I was told what it was, and then: "If you don't want to eat what I make, then you don't get to eat."

    She wasn't lying.

    Very similar to my grandma's: "What are we having for dinner? Please and no thank you."

    I'm so grateful for them. Really.

    August 15, 2010 at 2:15 am |
  2. Courtney

    My mom used to babysit some kids of a guy my dad used to work with, and the little girl always wanted pancakes – well, my mom who was very busy with me + two other kids, just made French Toast and told her that they were square pancakes!

    July 29, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  3. RS

    When I was really little my mom as a joke told me that coffee makes your feet stink. Well one Sunday I was at church and went up to the ushers and was talking to them, and I noticed each had a cup of coffee in their hands. I told them that they shouldn't drink coffee, they asked me why, and in my 4 yr old voice, I piped up "Because mom says that coffee makes your feet stink !" They nearly fell over they were laughing so hard, and me being 4 then I didn't get it. It wasn't until about a year later that mom finally came clean and told me that it didn't do that. I still laugh to this day thinking about it. I'm curious to know what my brother's telling his two daughters, if they don't eat their food. I know with my one nephew, he'd eat just a little bit and then say he didn't want the food any more. My then husband would look at him, and tell him he wanted to race to see who could eat faster. Nothing better than a challenge from your fav uncle to get you to eat up. So I had to play the referee/cheering section, and our nephew beat his uncle. I had to do the same thing for another nephew, only I was racing him and one of his sisters wanted to join in. The oldest sister didn't want to feel left out, so she joined in, and the 4 of us had a contest to see who was quickest. All 3 kids soundly beat me (as I wanted them to), and their parents seemed pleased and amused that I got all 3 to eat up.

    July 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • RS

      My dad would also tell me when I was a kid, that he could always tell what I had eaten, if I opened my mouth. He'd had a flashlight, and act like he could see into my stomach, and say something like "Yep ! You definitely ate your dinner ! I can see it !" Also when I was little, my mom was trying to teach me that I could jump into the pool with floaties on, and I'd be okay. Well I wouldn't do it, until she mimicked a commercial we'd seen earlier, where the parent promised McDonald's french fries. So mom said "I'll buy you McDonald's french fries" and I leapt into the pool. Mom had to keep her promise. Also when my brother and I were kids, if we were in the same room with dad and he was hungry, he'd have us put our ears to his stomach, and tell us that the growling was from a lion in his stomach. Us being the dummies that we were, we believed him, and we'd tell anyone who listened. Took us a few years before we figured it out.

      July 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  4. tina

    My son loved pickles, but wouldn't eat cucumbers. I told him they were just pre-pickles and never had a problem getting him to eat them again.

    July 26, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  5. Rikki

    I was told quite a few minor fibs growing up. It didn't harm me and often it got me to eat whatever food was available at the time. Watermelon seeds grow in your belly, crusts have the most vitamins, spinach makes you strong like popeye, coffee will put hair on your chest and turn your toenails black, kids in china are starving and they wanted the food I had so If i didn't eat they might trade me in on a chinese daughter instead, etc.

    My son declared that he didn't like scrambled eggs anymore when he was around 4. So I mixed in some chopped up bacon and told him I got the recipe from Batman. He still prefers scrambled eggs with bacon in them and at 16 still calls them Batman's scrambled eggs.
    Often I would tell the children something new was something really disgusting just for fun. They'd eat two servings of Hot Zombie Juice with grave cheese with gusto, it wouldn't have been as interesting if it was just plain old broccolli and cheese soup. They would often stand in the kitchen while I cooked trying to think up the best name for it. They are almost all grown now, and we still talk about how much fun renaming our food was. :)

    July 26, 2010 at 6:55 am |
  6. the truth

    I tell my kids the truth – eating too much candy, candy, or any sodas will make them short, fat and stupid (i don't bother with the diabetes, as they're too young to know what it is...)...they've yet to ask me why everyone in the USA is fat, but i suspect in the next two years they will notice and's a good thing we speak Chinese, so they can keep their comments from offending the lard***es...hehe...

    July 26, 2010 at 1:21 am |
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