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The iconic dishes and beverages from our beloved holiday films


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Chocolate sundae - “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

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Chocolate sundae - “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

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When George (Jimmy Stewart) and Mary (Donna Reed) first meet, it’s as kids in an ice cream shop, with George as the clerk and Mary as the customer. She orders a chocolate sundae, but passes on the young man’s offer of coconut topping, even after he chastises her. A classic love story, right? (And we’re pretty sure he ends up giving her coconut on her sundae anyway.)

2 of 24

Roast beef - “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1966)

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Roast beef - “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1966)

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We were tempted to go with “Who hash” for this one, but that’s not a real thing, so we’re instead going with roast beast, a.k.a. roast beef. As part of his usual ransacking of presents and decorations, the Grinch stole all the Whos’ food, including this main course. Eventually, he gets a change of heart (technically an enlarged heart, from a medical standpoint), and “brought everything back, all the food for the feast,” the Dr. Seuss story says. “And he, he himself, the Grinch, carved the roast beast.”

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Ovaltine - “A Christmas Story” (1983)

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Ovaltine - “A Christmas Story” (1983)

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Remember the little bit about Ralphie getting the Little Orphan Annie Secret Society decoder pin in the mail to decode a secret message from Annie to her fans? Ralphie sets to decoding the message in the privacy of the bathroom and—with his mother pounding on the door and little brother wetting his pants waiting to get in—finally reveals that it says: “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” Fudge! It’s an ad for chocolate milk mix. What a letdown.

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Frozen orange juice - “Trading Places” (1983)

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Frozen orange juice - “Trading Places” (1983)

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In case you don’t remember: In Trading Places, the rich old Duke Brothers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) make a bet that results in a well-off financial exec (Dan Aykroyd) and a street hustler (Eddie Murphy) unwittingly switching lives. Aykroyd and Murphy eventually make their own bet, which results in the two of them getting rich while bankrupting the Dukes by manipulating the futures of frozen orange juice concentrate. To be honest, I’m still not sure we fully understand how that whole thing worked.

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Fried chicken - “Gremlins” (1984)

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Fried chicken - “Gremlins” (1984)

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There are three rules when it comes to mogwai: Don’t expose them to light, or it will kill them, and don’t get them wet or feed them after midnight, or they’ll spawn more mogwai and turn into gremlins. Of course, a teenager named Billy—who received one of the creatures as a gift—almost immediately breaks two of the rules, causing a whole mess of gremlins to wreak havoc around town on Christmas Eve in this holiday favorite for horror fans. The food Billy served them? A plate of leftover fried chicken.

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Twinkies - “Die Hard” (1988)

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Twinkies - “Die Hard” (1988)

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John McClane (Bruce Willis) is the hero of “Die Hard,” but let’s not forget about all the help and support from Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson, of “Family Matters” fame). Sgt. Powell was off duty during the whole hostage situation thing at Nakatomi Plaza but is roped into it when he answers a call while at a gas station mini-mart. The item he was purchasing at the time? Twinkies—several packages of Twinkies—for his pregnant wife.

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Chinese food - “Scrooged” (1988)

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Chinese food - “Scrooged” (1988)

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When you want to order takeout on Christmas Day, Chinese restaurants are among the only open options. As such, there’s a running joke about Chinese food in the 1988 Bill Murray comedy “Scrooged.” Murray is asked about or brings up Chinese food several times, including the first time he met Claire (Karen Allen) and again at the end of the movie.

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Jello - “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989)

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Jello - “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989)

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There are so many hilarious food and drink gags in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but we’re going to go with J-E-L-L-O. The absent-minded Aunt Bethany apparently mixed some cat food into her homemade dessert, prompting Clark (Chevy Chase) to ask, “By any chance does your cat eat jello?” Of course, the mix-up and Clark’s comment are lost on Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), who goes back for seconds.

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Mac & cheese - “Home Alone” (1990)

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Mac & cheese - “Home Alone” (1990)

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Just before the bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) arrive, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) sits down for a last supper. He says, “Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.” The saddest part of this movie? Kevin doesn’t get a bite before the break-in begins.

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Hot chocolate - “The Santa Clause” (1994)

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Hot chocolate - “The Santa Clause” (1994)

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There’s a lot of food mentioned in “The Santa Clause,” especially the scene at a Denny’s that was out of almost everything, including chocolate milk. Judy the Waitress couldn’t deliver the chocolate, but Judy the Elf certainly did later in the film with her 1,200-year-old hot chocolate recipe. “Not too hot,” the recipe says. “Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred.”

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Pizza - “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992)

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Pizza - “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992)

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After using an old gangster movie to get a pizza in the original “Home Alone,” Kevin McCallister has a much easier time in the 1992 sequel. Armed with his father’s credit card, Kevin rents a suite at the Plaza Hotel and is nearly busted by a snooping concierge (Tim Curry). As an apology for barging in on Kev’s “dad” in the shower (really an inflatable clown and a tape recorder), the concierge orders the youngster “a limousine and a pizza, compliments of the Plaza Hotel.”

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Turkey - “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992)

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Turkey - “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992)

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In “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” a retelling of the classic Charles Dickens’ story “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge was played by the iconic Michael Caine. After going through the whole three ghosts thing, Ebenezer eventually makes things right with Bob Cratchit (Kermit) by giving him a raise and bringing his family a turkey dinner.

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Sugar cookies - “Jingle All the Way” (1996)

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Sugar cookies - “Jingle All the Way” (1996)

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In 1996’s “Jingle All the Way,” Arnold Schwarzenegger competed with Sinbad for much of the film, but his real nemesis was played by the great Phil Hartman. Hartman’s character is the next-door neighbor that is constantly trying to make Howard (Schwarzenegger) look bad as a person and father, and also makes a move on his wife (Rita Wilson). Hartman even takes over the baking of Howard’s favorite sugar cookies and taunts him over the phone by threatening to eat them. 

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Pudding - “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)

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Pudding - “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)

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At one point in Ron Howard’s rendition of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Grinch (Jim Carrey) is invited down to Whoville to be the town’s “Cheermeister.” He takes part in numerous events, including judging the entries to the pudding cook-off. The funniest part of this whole scene? While being spoon-fed numerous samples of pudding, one person randomly tells him, “This is NOT pudding.”

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Sandwiches - “Bad Santa” (2003)

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Sandwiches - “Bad Santa” (2003)

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When mall Santa/con-man Willie T. Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) needs a place to crash (and rob), he moves in with a young boy named Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) and his senile grandma (Cloris Leachman). There’s a running joke throughout the movie that Thurman and granny are always asking Willie if he wants some sandwiches, and the latter even angrily points it out in one scene. Maybe fix yourself a sandwich the next time you watch “Bad Santa.”

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Banoffee pie - “Love Actually” (2003)

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Banoffee pie - “Love Actually” (2003)

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There are a lot of stars and storylines in the 2003 rom-com “Love Actually,” but there’s not a lot of food—which is surprising for a Christmas movie. However, one notable scene involves Juliet (Keira Knightley) showing up at the door of Mark (Andrew Lincoln), and she brings him a slice of banoffee pie. As the name suggests, banoffee pie is a mix of bananas and toffee, as well as cream.

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Syrup - “Elf” (2003)

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Syrup - “Elf” (2003)

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According to Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell), “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.” He then proceeds to add maple syrup to a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce. The next day, he again eats spaghetti, but this time it’s topped with a mountain of candy, some crumbled Pop Tarts, and more syrup.

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Hickory honey ham - “Christmas with the Kranks” (2004)

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Hickory honey ham - “Christmas with the Kranks” (2004)

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With their daughter, Blair (Julie Gonzalo), abroad for the holidays, Luther and Nora Krank (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) vow to completely skip Christmas in favor of a cruise. But when Blair surprises them by flying home on Xmas Eve, the Kranks need to scramble to put on their traditional holiday festivities, including preparing their daughter’s favorite meal: canned hickory honey ham. Of course, there are plenty of bumps along the way—including the very last honey ham getting run over outside the supermarket—in this underrated comedy based on a John Grisham novel. 

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Tuna - Just Friends (2005)

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Tuna - Just Friends (2005)

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In “Just Friends,” record producer Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) crosses paths with his unrequited former high school crush, Jamie (Amy Smart), after his plane is forced to make an emergency landing in his hometown. The reason for the layover? Chris’s client, the eccentric pop star Samantha James (Anna Faris) tries to heat up foil-covered tuna in the private plane’s microwave.

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Wine - “The Holiday” (2006)

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Wine - “The Holiday” (2006)

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“The Holiday,” a 2006 rom-com, has a lot of big names, including Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, and John Krasinski. It also has a lot of food and drink in numerous scenes, with none being more prominent than wine. Diaz and Law drink brandy (distilled wine) the first time they meet, Black mentions having “too much of the Manischewitz” (kosher wine) at a Hanukkah party, and Diaz even pops open a bottle at a gourmet food store while shopping. Don’t worry, she buys the bottle...and the opener she used. 

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Beer-mosas - “Four Christmases” (2008)

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Beer-mosas - “Four Christmases” (2008)

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Back when “Four Christmases” came out in 2008, the “beer-mosa” (beer mixed with OJ) was a little-known alternative to the classic mimosa. Since then, it has gained in popularity and is now a regular player on brunch menus across the country. If you haven’t seen this holiday comedy, the beer-mosa is offered to Reese Witherspoon’s character by Katy Mixon’s character, who is married to Jon Favreau’s character, who plays the brother of Vince Vaughn’s character, who is the boyfriend of Witherspoon’s character. Got all that?

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Waffles - “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” (2011)

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Waffles - “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” (2011)

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White Castle is obviously the food most associated with Harold & Kumar (John Cho & Kal Penn), but that’s mostly because of the first movie, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004). By the third installment, 2011’s “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas,” there’s a different food in the spotlight: waffles. Or more specifically, Wafflebot, a waffle-making robot that is gifted to the guys by Neil Patrick Harris (once again playing himself), and later saves their lives.

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Red Bull - “The Night Before” (2015)

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Red Bull - “The Night Before” (2015)

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Three friends who always spend Christmas Eve together celebrate one last time before their lives head in different directions. Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is struggling to mature professionally and romantically, Isaac (Seth Rogen) is about to become a father, and Chris (Anthony Mackie) has a blossoming NFL career. Throughout the wildly outrageous night, Chris films videos for his social media followers, including promos for his sponsorship with Red Bull.

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Eggnog - “Daddy’s Home 2” (2017)

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Eggnog - “Daddy’s Home 2” (2017)

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The 2015 family comedy “Daddy’s Home” was not well received by critics, and its 2017 sequel fared even worse. But if you enjoy Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and you have a soft spot for Christmas movies (and based on the 51% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, many people do), we would absolutely recommend “Daddy’s Home 2.” It’s stuffed with slapstick silliness, but earned a PG-13 rating for just a bit of inappropriate humor, including a scene where two youngsters sneak some eggnog before appearing in a nativity scene.

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