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. Angie

    My mother would always tell me to eat stuff because "it will put hair on your chest." Apparently I wanted hair on my chest as a little girl because I would eat it.

    Also, she would tell me about the starving children in Ethiopia or some other African country who didn't have food. I always just wanted to send them the food.

    July 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  2. james

    i always show my kids some youtube videos how cows, pigs and chickens are treated in animal factories, that keeps them from eating meat, works like a charm !!

    July 25, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  3. Pat

    My mother, God bless her soul, never lied to me about anything. And that is a recipe for raising a person of integrity.

    July 25, 2010 at 7:59 am |
  4. eamon

    Back in the fifties,I was told that eating dandelions made you pee in bed.Now,why should anyone want to eat dandelions?

    July 25, 2010 at 6:24 am |
  5. Sylver

    It honestly wasn't my idea. Our small son absolutely refused to try cole slaw. My husband looked him right in the eye and said, "I don't know what your problem is. It's just cabbage ice cream." My son, then about age 4, dug right in. It's been a salad favorite with him ever since. Although he caught on to the truth within a short time, he liked it too much by then. (It didn't help that I was choking with laughter everytime I thought about it.) Today, as an adult, our son snickers about the deception. It was the only one we ever pulled on him to get him to try something.

    July 25, 2010 at 5:36 am |
  6. Liestastytastylies

    I was never told Veal was a term for baby cows ;/ I was also told the black watermelon seeds, if swallowed, would grow in your tummy but the white ones were okay to eat.

    July 25, 2010 at 4:19 am |
  7. Fulanar DeTal

    mine parents told me i am always hating the mcdonalds and this way winning! until 15 year old i never try this foods

    July 25, 2010 at 2:35 am |
  8. Ken

    I was about 8 and swallowed a peach pip. My two elder brothers told me a peach tree would grow out of my ears, but Mom had a special medicine to take care of it. So they fed me the medicine – laxative. When Mom got home, they told her the joke. She said: "Funny, hey, well, then you can also join in the fun!" She fed them the rest of the laxative. And she was right – it was fun watching them fighting for turns on the toilet. (Sometimes a single mom just has to have a strong hand).

    July 25, 2010 at 2:24 am |
  9. Katie

    My brother in law swears that if you eat watermelon while hungover it will kill you....

    July 25, 2010 at 1:39 am |
  10. Ruggy

    Nearly every woman I know thinks diet pop will help them lose weight, but the more they drink the fatter they get. In fact, a documented side effect of Aspartame (Nutrasweet) is weight gain.

    July 25, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  11. Allen

    The biggest "lie" that parents tell, isn't so much something that they say. It's actually their omission of the truth. Parents don't tell their children what hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, etc. are and where they come from. Little kids don't have a clue.

    July 25, 2010 at 12:21 am |
    • Pat

      Well, even calling some of that slop "food" is dishonest, don't you think? It doesn't fit any of the definitions of food in my American Heritage Talking dictionary.

      July 25, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  12. Jam

    My mother used to tell us to eat the crust on our bread because it would exercise our teeth.

    July 25, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  13. Mike M

    My Dad used to always say "All Dogs Smell Their Own Meat." I don't think I ever really realized what he meant until I was 28.

    July 25, 2010 at 12:02 am |
  14. grofys

    i can't remember all the lies my mother told me about food and everything else. she made sure we knew if we didn't eat all the food she made for us, within 24 hours, it would go bad by the next day, so she froze everything or threw it away. we grew up with "accent" in all of our food because it was good for us. if we shared food we would surely get some disease and die. when we made stuffing out of rock hard bread we had to tear it instead of cutting it because people don't eat stuffing cut with a knife. btw, we were also told if we touched concrete before it was mixed it would eat our flesh, all the way up to the elbow. it goes on and on...

    July 24, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  15. Chuck White

    Crystal Gale used to tell me that donuts would make my brown eyes blue

    July 24, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  16. TH

    Dad told us boys to always eat Brussel Sprouts as it would make our "thing" grow and hang down to our knees. What a liar Dad turned out to be...

    July 24, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  17. russ0000

    My grandma use to tell me to eat burned bread crust, so i will be able to see very far away, like a city near by :-)

    July 24, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  18. Andrew Messenger

    If you eat watermelon seeds, roots will grow in your stomach and vines will grow out of your ears.

    Somehow my sister got the idea that eating cheese would make her boobs grow bigger.

    Mom made liver for me once, she dressed it up as though it were a chicken fried steak and told me it was a chicken fried steak. That one didn't work, but I was shocked.

    July 24, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  19. Linda H

    Coco Puffs were really rabbit poop.
    Tapioca pudding had fish eggs in it.

    July 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  20. Monique

    My mom told me that dinuguan (a Filipino dish) was chocolate meat. I ddin't want to try it until she said that. When I realized she duped me, I told her that it wasn't chocolate. She asked if it tasted good, and it did, so I kept eating it. BTW, it is a rich spicy dark gravy of pig blood, garlic, chili, and vinegar. Think of blood sausage or black pudding in a saucy stew form.

    July 24, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  21. Hawaiianian

    This is so stupid its hard to believe it's true, but it is.

    When I was about five I got Mother to buy me a can of spinach after seeing Popeye on tv. I ate the whole can and ended up on the toilet all night. That was near 50 years ago and I haven't had spinach since. I hate it.

    July 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  22. Alan Miller

    My mother always warned us that each time we burped, a little bit of our stomach lining got torn. I had this feeling that my stomach needed sewing. And she warned us also that potatoes grow in dirty ears.

    July 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  23. HarleyDavidsonGirl

    I have a boyfriend who grew up with a mother who was a bit neglegent because she was into drugs and alcohol...She used to make him liver, but she continued to call it steak. He won't touch actual steak because of that memeory. Poor guy.

    July 22, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  24. alice

    The crusts of bread will make your hair curly.

    If you swallow seeds whole, they'll grow inside your stomach.

    God knows what would happen if you ate the crusts of bread that had seeds in it.

    July 22, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  25. heather

    my kids wouldnt eat meat unless they thought it was something really cool. i would tell them alligator, groundhog, possum, was a real interesting conversation at parent-teacher conferences when the teacher had questions. they are grown now and still think its funny.

    July 22, 2010 at 4:29 am |
  26. pickyeatr

    Being quite poor my mom used to cook a groundhog for super that she would shoot herself every sunday morning while we were at sunday school and tell us it was roast beef. I hated roast beef for thirty years (it was really tough to chew). And the fool who thinks that if you only offer someone limited food they do not like that they will eat it rather than starve is way wrong, I could sit in the school cafeteria with a whole tray of food and not eat any of it no matter how hungry I was because none of the food was anything I would eat period (I tried). I told many a cafeteria lady if they thought it was worth eating they should eat it because there was no way I was going to eat it. To this day I and my sister are extremely picky eaters.

    July 22, 2010 at 3:40 am |
  27. Cam

    My older sister (who knew *everything*) swore to the one about bread crust making your hair curly, and even now, I think of that literally every time I eat bread. Also, Turkey Tetrazzini = "Turkey Tetrachloride". When my daughter was small, she thought tartar sauce was sour and made foods "tart-er".

    July 22, 2010 at 12:48 am |
  28. Megwolf13

    Wait a minute, that hot drink on a hot day to cool you down actually works?! Man, I just realized two things!
    a) My grandma was right (though not about the "try it, you'll like it/love it")
    b) NCIS (the t.v. show)- Gibbs drinks coffee. On hot days. And says it keeps him cool. So t.v. does not lie!

    July 22, 2010 at 12:22 am |
  29. Kelle711

    My mom used to say to eat the bread crust because it had all the vitamins. I was in college, and telling the story to my professor when he pointed out that that made no sense: the bread crust was made of the same dough as the rest of the bread. It was the first time I questioned what my mother told me about bread crust. And the truth shall set you free.

    July 21, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  30. dance5678

    It's so funny how these "food fibs" carried on to many different families. Everyone can relate to atleast one of these. I remember hearing these more from kids at school then my parents though.

    July 21, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
  31. Jonie

    When we went to the beach my sis would always seem to drop her sandwich in the sand. My dad would brush it off, and tell her it was good for her gizzard...

    July 21, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
  32. GJD

    My dad told me that romano cheese was ground up toe nails.

    July 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
    • Lenée

      Hahaha! This reminds me–a man I used to date would call Parmesan/Romano cheese "stinky-feet-cheese."

      July 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  33. Leonard Potter

    My mother once told my sister that swallowing Watermelon seeds would make a Watermelon patch grow in her stomach... My sister just about went hysterical...

    July 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  34. Maryam

    My grandmother always told me if i drank Coffee i would grow a beard.

    July 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  35. Ash

    Here's one from the other side of the world – the Japanese will often leave eggs sitting outside the refrigerator in stores and in their homes, which of course makes us Westerners' toes curl. You'll get food poisoning if you don't put those in the fridge, we say. Nonsense, they say, eggs don't need to be refrigerated! So which one is the myth?

    For the record, when eating raw dough, here it's not the eggs that they say will make you sick – it's the raw flour!

    July 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • Chuck White

      eggs will keep for months at room temp.

      July 24, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
    • Katie

      i live in Mexico and the eggs are kept out of the fridge in all the stores i've been too, including the walmarts in guadalajara....i was weary at first, but got used to the idea,its never made us sick

      July 25, 2010 at 1:45 am |
    • Lenée

      I recently heard that eggs will keep at room temp as long as something called the "bloom" is not washed from the shell. I haven't taken the time to research the validity of this statement, but I do know eggs can be safely held at room temp. A little something I learned from my mother-in-law about 15 years ago, altho' she never explained why. Has anyone heard or know about this "bloom" theory/fact? Now I'm more curious....if I learn anything new about this, I will surely post it! :)

      July 28, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  36. jamers

    My mom used to tell us that eating anything blue (candy, icee, popcicles, etc) would give you cancer. Maybe that's why I still don't like blueberries.

    July 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  37. Jonathan d S

    My mom and my grandmother used to tell me I shouldn't drink coffee because it would make me stupid. I think about it everytime I make a cup of joe.

    July 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  38. Kendrea

    My mom told me that bread crust was the healthiest part of the bread; but thanks to my grandma's homemade loaves with the honey and butter on the crust, I always loved bread crust anyway.

    July 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  39. Paul C

    There was a story among neighborhood kids (from someone's mother) that if you swallowed your chewing gum, it would wrap around your heart and make you die. We took this very seriously and never swallowed our gum!

    July 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  40. Candide

    My dad always told us that eating onions would grow hair on your chest. Too bad all of dad's kids are girls!

    July 21, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  41. Nicole

    My mom got me to drink prune juice as a kid by telling me it was black orange juice. Very clever – it worked!

    July 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  42. PhilInMaine

    My ex-wife's kids told their younger sister once when she swallowed tomato seed that she would grow a plant in her tummy and it woudl comoe right out her belly button, that night, if she didn't eat a whole stick of butter before mom came home. Mom got home at about the 3/4 stick mark and the little girl started bawling her eyes out because her mommy came home too soon and she didn't want a tomato plant growing in her tummy and out her belly button.The boys where like 5 and 7 and the girl was like 3. I still laugh when I think about it. One of the best things to come out of that marrriage!!

    July 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  43. Just Me

    We call Waldorf salad, Wart Hog salad and Eggs Ala Golden Rod, Eggs All Good and Rotten. It just makes it more fun.

    Growing up Dad made scrambled eggs with ground meat in them and told us it was brains. To this day we don't know if he was messing with us or not, not we'll either of us go near eggs with ground meat in it.

    July 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  44. Food Happy

    Why lie to kids and try to trick them? The simple, straightforward approach is easy for them to understand and works well. My mother, being both no-nonsense and averse to lying, had a simple way to get us kids to eat whatever was served. If any of us refused to eat part or all of our dinner, that was OK. Of course, it also meant that we went hungry. No loading our plates only with one or two things we liked or grabbing snacks after dinner. And definitely no whining allowed! The result was that we were not food fussy at all and able to enjoy a wide variety of foods. I am still that way today, something for which I am eternally grateful.

    July 21, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  45. JRC

    I can't reemeber any food mythjs, but my parents told me that if I played with my belly button my legs would fall off. To this day I cannot stand to have anyone mess with my belly button, my kids think that it is hilarious to try to poke me in my belly button. I have 5 younger brothers and they all still make fun of me about it.

    July 21, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  46. Lady Rani

    My roommates son was 5 and woudn't eat an apple with the skin on it, so I told him that the skin would make him a better baseball player, he now eats his apples with the skins on them; however, i tried that again this past summer (a year later) with something else and he said, no apple skins do that..... he's 6 now...and a great kid..

    July 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
  47. Reimann

    i was told that eating 5 bars of salted butter with 6 bacon strips and 4 krispy kreme donuts and potato wedges while gulping down my burger with a fried egg and chocolate milk shake would make me a little fatter. gee i believed all that nonsense.

    July 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  48. Kristen

    My parents liked to tell me that the crust on the bread had most of the nutrients, so I'd eat it!

    It took many years until I realized it was just the "burnt" part.

    July 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
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