The Calvin and Hobbes Wiki

"There has got to be a better way to make him eat!" -Calvin's mother, after his dad tells him that his dinner is a toxic waste pile


Dinner is a prominent running gag in Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin dislikes what his mother usually cooks for dinner, and this often annoys his parents. Many other running gags exist involving Calvin's dinner.

Running gags[]

Dinner play1
Dinner play2

Calvin often plays with his food. For instance, when his parents are looking elsewhere, the food springs to life and Calvin tries to stop it, but then his parents get angry because it makes a big mess. When his parents return, the food is scattered over the table, walls and floor and smothered on Calvin's face. When Calvin is in a less rambunctious state of mind he may simply stir his food to idle the time away before eating it. Once, he fashioned a grotesque head-shaped sculpture out of various food items, much to his father's outrage.

Dinner maggots

Frequently, Calvin is reluctant to eat his dinner. In one strip, he gagged at the green food while thinking "toad stroganoff." In another, he pictured his mother cooking an assortment of repulsive items such as a rotten octopus, a shrunken head, and gasoline, which to him explained how his dinner tasted. Calvin tends to overreact to his dinners, choking and convulsing on the floor after a single taste or sniff. Instead of forcing their son to eat, as in some early strips, one or both of Calvin's parents usually prefer to identify the meal as a disgusting or inedible product such as toxic waste or maggots. His curiosity piqued, Calvin then proceeds to eat his dinner. The other parent, however, tends to get disgusted at mention of the made-up meal.


A few times, Calvin has suggested pizza and fast-food hamburgers as an alternative to his mother's cooking. In fact, he even once ordered pizza secretly after being sent to his room for disrespecting his mother's cooking.

More Info[]

Dinner tortellini

Calvin sometimes opposes dinner out of prejudice. At the mere mention of tortellini being for dinner, he threw a fit despite not even knowing what tortellini is. Also, when he had hamburger casserole, he dramatically gagged and flopped around after the first bite, only to eat it normally upon being told what the meal was.

Dinner TV 2

On a few occasions, Calvin's dinnertime has clashed with his TV schedule, interrupting or overriding shows he would have liked to see. In addition, his early bedtime further reduces his TV time, leading Calvin to complain about the amount of time he gets to watch.

Dinner burp 2
Dinner chew

Calvin's manners at the dinner table are the object of much criticism from his parents. Calvin tends to burp loudly at the table instead of trying to suppress it; afterwards, instead of saying "excuse me" or at least apologizing, he praises his "performance". Calvin also chews loudly with his mouth open.


Home meals[]

These are meals prepared for dinner either by Calvin's mother or father. Some of them were identified differently, to encourage Calvin to eat them.

  • Oatmeal (may be a lunch)
  • Lima beans
  • Asparagus
  • Stuffed peppers, identified as "stewed monkey heads"
  • Salmon
  • Hamburgers
  • Grilled cheese
  • Vegetarian meals
  • Creamed corn
  • Tortellini
  • Rice soup, identified as "maggot soup"
  • Manicotti
  • Unidentified fish
  • Chicken
  • Peas
  • Eggplant casserole
  • Salad (may be a school or home lunch)
  • Peppers
  • French fries
  • Grilled cheese
  • Tuna (this was for dinner in the story arc where Calvin becomes a tiger.)
  • Unknown meal identified as "spider pie"

Outside meals[]


Calvin's family has eaten out on a few occasions. Three distinct eateries have been featured throughout the strip; one is a pizzeria, the other is a formal restaurant, and the last is a hamburger restaurant the family went to while camping. Due to Calvin's typically embarrassing behavior in public, Calvin's parents eat out alone in later strips. These evenings lead to the babysitting story arcs.


  • In one strip, it was stated that dinner lasts an uninterrupted 40 minutes.
  • Various dinners have been portrayed as a chunky green slime (occasionally other colors). This is likely the reader seeing the meal through Calvin's eyes, as it may show what children think of any meal they find disgusting.
  • One time, Calvin's mother told her son the family would be eating stewed monkey heads. Subsequently, at the table, Calvin actually led his father to be disgusted at it. Calvin's father may have learned from this experience, as he later made up meals himself to get Calvin to eat.
  • For an unknown reason, Calvin makes odd names when he won't eat it, but when his parents make the gross name, he'll eat it. One exception includes eating hamburgers, where he learned burgers are made from cows (he had assumed they were made out of people from Hamburg).
  • It seems as if whenever Calvin likes what his mother makes, his father tends not to like it.
  • The first time the toxic food gag was introduced, Calvin's dad was the one to say it. However, later his mom would be the one to do this, despite opposing this method before.