Symbolism in music isn’t a new concept especially when the artist wants to sing about love or maybe even cover up the fact that what they’re talking about might not be suitable for all ages.
Talking about food in songs is a method tried and true, perfect both for hiding the real meaning of a track and also just for showing love for a delicious snack.
From quick foods like Goldfish Crackers to full-blown meals like pasta, here are 20 songs that talk about food — whether or not there’s some hidden message in the lyrics, that’s open to interpretation.
“Cake By The Ocean” – DNCE
Formed in 2015. American dance-rock group DNCE hit the music scene with their chart-topping debut single “Cake By The Ocean”. It had an insane amount of radio plays, but it’s not exactly a song about cake.
Through some overt euphemisms about ‘licking frosting’ and ‘eating cake by the ocean’, this song talks about engaging in activities that are not safe for work in a pretty obvious way.
But, regardless of if you want to take the real meaning into consideration, it’s just a great summer track to sing along to in the car with the windows down. It’s probably also a fun song to listen to while eating some (actual) cake by the ocean.
“Peach Jam” – Joji feat Bloc Boy JB
The first Asian-born artist to reach number 1 on BillboardsTop R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in November 2018. Japanese singer/songwriter Joji’s music has been described as a mix of lo-fi and R&B.
Released on 88rising’s 2018 Head In The Clouds album, “Peach Jam” follows the same trend that ‘Cake By The Ocean’ does — this song is about sex.
Joji uses the term peach jam to mean something entirely unrelated to the sweet condiment itself. With lines like “So tasty on my tongue” and “I’m the only one you spread em for”, it’s not hard to guess what Joji might be talking about once you listen to the song. With a snappy beat and hitting bass, it feels just like the kind of summertime song that could use some peach-flavored foods.
“Sugar” – Maroon 5
Hitting number 2 on US Billboards Hot 100 list “Sugar” is an upbeat pop-funk song perfect for a summer road trip. Released as a single on Maroon 5’s fifth studio album V, this song has a little bit of those sexual undertones that we’ve seen on the other two tracks.
But it also talks a lot about the love that Adam Levine has for the person he’s talking to, using sugar as a term of endearment.
This song is the perfect mix of love and lust over a catchy tune, making it obvious why it was a hit on radio stations everywhere.
“Chocolate” – The 1975
Released on The 1975’s self-titled debut album. ’Chocolate” hit #19 on the UK singles chart. It was also certified Gold in the US. The word chocolate is said frequently throughout the song, but — and this may not come as a surprise to many — its usage is not meant to refer to the food.
Chocolate is actually slang for a specific type of marijuana, called ’Chocolate Thai”, which is why lines like “Now we run, run away from the boys in the blue / and my car smells like chocolate” only make sense if you know what chocolate really refers to.
In the end, it’s a song about growing up, adventure, and weed told through a sense of rebellion against local authorities.
“Cookie Jar” – Gym Class Heroes feat The-Dream
The second single off of Gym Class Heroes’ album The Quilt, this song was written and released when front man Travis McCoy was in a relationship with Katy Perry, which might give us some context for the meaning of the track.
The lyrics talk about the temptation to cheat on a girlfriend when other girls come around, likened to being unable to keep your hands out of a cookie jar.
McCoy pretty blatantly lists types of cookies next to ethnicities of, presumably the girls he’s tempted by in the second verse, which gives us an interesting visual of what this song’s about. It’s a bit repetitive, but the connection is obvious. It’ll probably just leave you wanting cookies, to be completely honest.
“Watermelon Sugar” – Harry Styles
Taking both the 2021 Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year at the 41st Brit Awards. “Watermelon Sugar” appears on Harry Styles’ 2019 Fine Line album. Heavy guitar and horn usage lead this song making it a great mix of rock and indie pop. Its repetitive chorus is catchy, the phrase watermelon sugar a reference to In Watermelon Sugar (1968) by Richard Brautigan.
Where this inspiration might have come from, fans of Harry Styles have a pretty clear idea. The song talks about the high of first getting into a relationship, romantic or otherwise, with someone else.
The feeling of falling in love or becoming infatuated with that person’s presence is represented well in the summery lyrics and instrumentals.
“Strawberries & Cigarettes” – Troye Sivan
Released as a 2018 single from the Love, Simon soundtrack and also nominated at the 23rd Satellite Awards for Satellite Award for Best Original Song, this song is. shockingly, actually about strawberries and cigarettes.
It talks about a past lover, Sivan saying that they tasted like strawberries and cigarettes, but it also makes it clear that this song is meant to be bittersweet just like a love that you can’t quite seem to get over.
The contrasting taste of these two flavors match the relationship being described and the range of emotions that come with any complicated relationship. Overall, this track is quiet and nostalgic, a song about falling in love in a way that leaves you remembering it forever.
“Juice ” – Lizzo
A funk-pop song with a groovy feel, ‘ Juice” was released on Lizzo’s 2019 Cuz I Love You album. It’s a story of self-acceptance and self-love, along with the power that comes with that feeling. Juice is used to refer to this very power or respect a person has, a term that was popularized in the 1992 film Juice.
This song is all about building yourself up and loving the person that you are.
It’s the perfect anthem for anyone needing that extra push of confidence on a bad day or for anyone that’s having a good self-love day and wants to express how great that feeling is.
“Chicken Tenders ” – Dominic Fike
Here’s another song that, surprisingly, is actually about the food it’s named after. Released on Dominic Fike’s first full-length album.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong, this track is all about staying in a luxurious hotel room with a lover while eating something as simple and every day as chicken tenders.
Whether chicken nuggets or chicken tenders are superior, we don’t have to talk about it. The track is upbeat and lighthearted, talking mostly about sex and food in a way that leaves us with a feel-good song with a fun beat and the energetic strums of an electric guitar, aspects that are very characteristic of Dominic Fike as an artist.
“Blueberry Eyes” – MAX feat. SUGA
Released on MAX’s Colour Vision album and featuring a good friend of his. SUGA of BTS. this song is nothing but romantic lyrics and good vibes. MAX talks about his love for his wife, Emily, and her blueberry eyes.
It also makes references to strawberry skies leaving the song feeling very fruity and bright. SUGA’s verse, entirely in Korean, talks about finding someone that acts as a ray of light in darkness and a life that can change simply by meeting someone bright and full of light.
MAX and a pregnant Emily star in the music video together, having filmed it at their home in the midst of COVID-19. It’s a song full of endearment and adoration, something that leaves listeners with a clear impression of just how much MAX loves his wife.
“Coffee ” – Tori Kelly
The first track on Tori Kelly’s Inspired by True Events album. ‘Coffee” talks about a long-distance relationship and the kind of longing that comes with it. With lines about missing a lover.
Kelly details small things in a person’s life that she’s jealous she isn’t present for like drinking coffee and going on drives together. She personifies everyday objects like the clothes that get to hug her lover’s body or the steering wheel that gets gripped by hands that she wishes to hold.
This makes it a bit of a song about heartbreak since these are all things that people in a normal relationship can share but people in a long-distance relationship have to long for.
“Tropicana” – Caleb Blair
The debut single of self-produced Caleb Blair. ‘Tropicana” is about the fantasy of being with someone who might be hesitant or isn’t sure that this relationship is the right thing.
He talks about a fairytale life of waking up together and sipping Tropicana. of living a peaceful life with each other. The pop elements of the track make the lyrics feel almost like an adventure or anthem of love that you can jam to with no problem.
“Sliced Bread” – Josie Proto
You know the phrase ‘better than sliced bread”? It’s just a way of saying that whatever you’re talking about is really great. Well, British singer-songwriter Josie Proto takes that to an interesting level when she says that kicking her cheating ex-lover out was better than sliced bread.
This song is all about that breakup and the suspicions she had along the way that there was another girl in her lover’s life.
But, although it’s about a broken heart and you’d expect it to be sad, the song is very upbeat and self-empowering, making it a really fun listen.
“Pasta”- New Rules
If there’s one song on this list that gives off positive, supportive vibes, it’s ‘Pasta”. A single released in 2020. this song is about societal pressure to look a certain way in order to be perceived as attractive.
It tells the story of a girl simply wanting to stay home and eat pasta because she doesn’t want to leave the house and deal with those pressures, which is something that probably everyone has felt at some point.
It was very well-received, with the members of New Rules even sharing their own insecurities and journey to self-love as a way to promote the song. This track is soft and a bit sad. but it talks about accepting who you are and how you look, which is a really positive message that makes “Pasta’ more than worth a listen.
“Bagels ” – Kota the Friend feat Lizzy Ashliegh
Released on his 2019 album FOTO, “Bagels’ talks about a lowkey, chill love that could come out of meeting up for coffee and bagels.
Kota the Friend plays with the sound of “bagels” and “bae goals”, hinting at the fact that, despite any past issues he may have, he’s still interested in being bae goals with someone. The calm beat and piano keys in the background make this song the perfect cafe tune for those soft, initial feelings of falling in love.
“Sunday Candy ” – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
Nico Segal, formerly known as Donnie Trumpet, joined The Social Experiment to drop Surf in 2015. which contained “Sunday Candy”, a previously released single. Backed by amazing trumpet and piano instrumentals. Chance the Rapper sings an ode to his grandmother.
A spiritual track full of memory and love, this song is nothing but a feel-good, wholesome track to make you smile from many family aspects of the lyrics that feel familiar to lots of people listening.
“Vanilla Sundae ” – Emily Burns feat. Olivia Nelson
With melodic voices and the soft strums of an acoustic guitar. Emily Burns and Olivia Nelson join forces to deliver the nostalgic track that is “Vanilla Sundae.” A song about missing and longing for someone, the lyrics talk about wishing for another Sunday (sundae) to be with a lover and just do nothing with them.
Since vanilla is often the plainest flavor of any dessert, it’s likened to a day where nothing special happens, which is arguably the best kind of day to have with someone you love.
This meaning is reinforced when Nelson calls Monday ‘Blueberry Monday”, which could be a play on the phrase “the Monday blues”. It’s a quiet, introspective track with amazing vocals, perfect to play on a quiet Sunday morning.
“Banana Pancakes ” – Jack Johnson
With the soft rock sound of a hard-strummed acoustic guitar. American singer-songwriter Jack Johnson talks about eating banana pancakes with his lover on a rainy day inside.
It’s a song about forgetting your responsibilities and just sitting peacefully with the person you love eating pancakes (specifically banana pancakes). This track is sweet and romantic, kind of like banana pancakes, making it a great listen for a day in.
“Applesauce ” – Sam.sts
The 2019 single ‘Applesauce” is about falling in love with the perfect girl. Sam.sts talks about falling for the girl of his dreams, someone that he thinks he must have made up in his head. It’s a groovy track that lists qualities of his perfect girl.
From the way she walks to the way she talks, he loves everything about her. And even if she’s not your perfect girl, you can’t help but jam to this song about a girl as sweet as applesauce.
“Goldfish Crackers” – Gold Rever
Music duo Gold Revere released “Goldfish Crackers” in 2020, a song that references different foods (coffee, red velvet cake, and DOTS in particular) as a way to talk about love.
Playing with the Goldfish Cracker motto “the snack that smiles back”, this hip-hop/R&B track starts with the line ‘Goldfish Crackers when I’m tryna fake a smile”, which is just a fun, playful way to start a song about food and love.
“Goldfish Crackers” went on to trend on TikTok with #GoldfishDance, and it even got all the way back to Pepperidge Farm, resulting in an entire TikTok account being made that was dedicated to the snack just so they could interact with the song. Somehow both a chill song to vibe to alone at home and a track to jam to in the car with friends. “Goldfish Crackers” got the attention it deserves.
There you have it! 20 songs about food! Even if you don’t end up enjoying all of the songs on this list, you can’t deny that songs with titles and lyrics about food are a common trend in music-making, probably because artists can do a wide range of things with songs involving food.
From tracks containing thinly-veiled sexual innuendos to songs about love or heartbreak, there’s a song (and a snack) for everyone.