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In NetHack, a comestible is any food or other edible item, %, that you can eat with the e command. Regularly eating is required to keep up your nutrition levels and avoid starvation, though it is possible to ascend without eating at all. Corpses from dead monsters are among the most common type of comestible, but can rot away if left long enough - non-corpse comestibles do not rot away, and are generally called "permafood".

Some monsters can also eat food items - only a pet will do so regularly, and like you it must eat to stay alive; hostile intelligent monsters may still pick up and carry around certain food items. Certain monsters can also eat items besides comestibles (e.g., metallivores eat metal items), and you can as well by polymorphing into such monsters.


Comestibles comprise 20% of all randomly-generated items in the main dungeon, 15% in containers, 22% on the Rogue level, and 16% in Gehennom. Sokoban is a branch that always contains a large amount of food.

Most roles start with some amount of comestibles in their initial inventory: roles that do not start with food are Cavemen, human Rogues, Samurai, and Wizards. The specific starting food for applicable roles also depends on the starting race of that particular character - orcish non-Wizards start with two random food items, each of which may come in a stack of two, in addition to their normal starting inventory.

Monsters are also generated carrying food, such as soldiers, and many monsters have a varying chance of leaving their corpse behind when killed. Additionally, various special rooms may either contain several food items (e.g., antholes and beehives) or several monsters that generate with food (e.g. barracks), and the monsters can themselves be eaten for food as well.

All non-tin comestibles are normally generated uncursed, with the exception of those in a player's bones. Non-corpse comestibles have a chance of being generated in stacks of two: the chance is 12 for kelp fronds and 16 for other food.[1][2]


Eating any comestible other than a tainted corpse or a tin of rotten monster 'meat' gives you its nutrition value; the nutrition is provided uniformly during eating, e.g. if an item takes 5 turns to eat, then you have received 40% of its nutrition value after 2 turns of eating. See that article and its section on hunger for more information regarding nutrition - for the effects of eating a specific type of comestible, consult the articles linked in the list of comestibles below.

List of comestibles

Item Cost Wgt Prob Nutr Nutr/Wgt Time Nutr/Time Conduct
food ration 45 20 380 800 40 5 160 vegan
cram ration 35 15 20 600 40 3 200 vegan
C-ration 20 10 0 300 30 1 300 vegan
K-ration 25 10 0 400 40 1 400 vegan
tripe ration 15 10 140 200 20 2 100 none
lembas wafer 45 5 20 800 160 2 400 vegan
cream pie 10 10 25 100 10 1 100 vegetarian
pancake 15 2 25 200 100 2 100 vegetarian
candy bar 10 2 13 100 50 1 100 vegetarian
fortune cookie 7 1 55 40 40 1 40 vegetarian
tin (homemade) 5 10 —* 50 5 varies varies varies
tin of spinach (blessed) 5 10 0.625* 600 60 1–2 450 vegan
tin of spinach (uncursed) 5 10 11.25* 401–600 50.05 varies varies vegan
tin of spinach (cursed) 5 10 0.625* 201–600 40.05 varies varies vegan
tin (other) 5 10 62.5* varies varies varies varies varies
apple 7 2 15 50 25 1 50 vegan
orange 9 2 10 80 40 1 80 vegan
banana 9 2 10 80 40 1 80 vegan
sprig of wolfsbane 7 1 7 40 40 1 40 vegan
pear 7 2 10 50 25 1 50 vegan
slime mold 17 5 75 250 50 1 250 vegan
clove of garlic 7 1 7 40 40 1 40 vegan
melon 10 5 10 100 20 1 100 vegan
carrot 7 2 15 50 25 1 50 vegan
eucalyptus leaf 6 1 3 30 30 1 30 vegan
kelp frond 6 1 0 30 30 1 30 vegan
meatball 5 1 0 5 5 1 5 none
meat ring 5 1 0 5 5 1 5 none
meat stick 5 1 0 5 5 1 5 none
huge chunk of meat 105 400 0 2000 5 20 100 none
egg 9 1 85 80 80 1 80 vegetarian
lump of royal jelly 15 2 0 200 100 1 200 vegetarian
corpse (lichen) 5 20 0 200 10 3 66 vegan
corpse (lizard) 5 10 0 40 4 3 13 none
corpse (other) 5 varies 0 varies varies varies varies varies
* For details on the probability of randomly generated tins, see the tin article.

Eating corpses

Main article: Corpse

Corpses can give you varying amounts of nutrition along with useful intrinsic properties or even improved attributes, though they can also be hazardous or even poisonous to eat. Corpses age and eventually rot, and eating an old enough one can hurt you or even cause lethal food poisoning.

Eating tins

Main article: Tin

Tins either contain meat or other parts from monsters (called "tin of foo meat", or "tin of foo" if vegetarian), or are tins of spinach. You can use a tinning kit on an intact corpse to make a tin of it, regardless of that corpse's age. Before you eat a tin, you are notified of its contents; if you chose not to eat it, you "discard the open tin" and it is used up.

Tins of a monster generally have the same effects as eating that monster's corpse, though without any adverse effects from poison or acid. Their nutrition value depends on the preparation method, which is determined randomly when you open the tin. Tins made from tinning kits are always either homemade or rotten, depending on the kit's beatitude. Tins of deep fried or stir fried monster will give you slippery fingers; a tin of rotten monster has no nutritional value and will make you nauseous, which causes you to vomit and lose nutrition unless it is cured. Cursed tins are always rotten, and 18 of them are booby-trapped to explode when opened.

Eating eggs

Main article: Egg

Eggs provide 80 nutrition and do not rot away - instead, they become stale after 400 turns, and eating a stale egg makes you nauseated for 10d4 (more) turns, which causes you to eventually vomit unless cured.[3] 13 of all generated eggs are of a random non-aquatic, oviparous monster and will eventually hatch if fresh, and the rest are simply plain eggs. Eating a cockatrice egg induces delayed stoning unless you have stoning resistance.[4] The primary method to learn the type of a given egg is usually to identify it - seeing an egg hatch will formally identify that type of egg for you.

The nausea does not occur if the egg turns out to be rotten, which is discussed in the section below - this is distinct from the egg being stale, although the message indicating nausea calls the egg "rotten".

Rotten food

Most non-tinned comestibles have a chance of being rotten when first eaten - this is different from being tainted, which only affects corpses that are left to rot and decay long enough. Upon eating rotten food, you only receive 12 of its nutrition value and are subjected to one of the negative effects listed below. The chances of each outcome and the message accompanying it vary depending on various factors, including whether you are blind, hallucinating or otherwise:[5][6]

Outcome Odds Message Notes
Not blind Blind
Nothing 38 12 "Blecch! Rotten <food>!" Other messages below are appended to this one
Confusion for 2d4 (more) turns. 14 14 "You feel rather light-headed."
"You feel rather trippy." (if hallucinating)
Blinded for 2d10 turns 316 0 "Everything suddenly goes dark." Cannot occur if already blind
Pass out for d10 turns 316 14 "The world spins and goes dark."
"The world spins and you slap against the <ground/saddle/...>"
"The world spins and you lose control of yourself."

Comestibles that are uncursed and older than 30 turns, or blessed and older than 50 turns, have a 17 chance of being rotten; cursed comestibles are always rotten, with the exception of fortune cookies. Lembas wafers and cram rations are never rotten unless they are cursed.[7][8] Wraith corpses that are rotten "rot away completely" when eaten and immediately disappear without giving you an experience level, since they have zero nutrition.[9]

Corpses that make you feel sick, poison you, or else are tainted at time of eating are never rotten in this sense; acidic corpses cannot end up tasting rotten unless you have acid resistance.[10] Lizard and lichen corpses do not become tainted from age or rot away, and are always safe to eat;[11] acid blob corpses cannot become tainted from age even though they eventually rot away, and have the same conditions for "rotten food" as other acidic corpses.[12]

Food strategy

One of the early goals for any player is to secure an adequate food supply; as discussed above, some roles enter the dungeon with a mostly non-perishable food supply. Most players starting their dungeon exploration will eat the corpses of slain hostiles, or else leave them for their pet (who may just as often get to the corpse first).

As indicated by one of the many rumors available, beginners to NetHack can use their pet as a very general guide on whether or not a given corpse is safe to eat, or else is poisonous as with kobold corpses and green and yellow molds, and thus better avoided. As they obtain more game experience, a player will eventually learn what specific corpses to prioritize early for nutrition or obtaining intrinsics.

The first consideration in most food-related strategy is typically whether or not you are attempting a conduct - vegetarian players will know to avoid anything containing meat, while vegan players have an even stricter requirement to avoid anything made with animal products, including eggs or dairy. Fortunately for them, the standard food rations and nameable fruit are always vegan-friendly - the challenge lies in obtaining intrinsics and other properties from the lower variety of diet-compliant corpses available. Players looking to ascend without eating have a different set of priorities altogether.

The next consideration is finding a supply of food: Sokoban is a common target branch that has several guaranteed food items alongside other loot, and it is usually worth completing one or two floors in order to stockpile permafood. The Gnomish Mines is another common branch chosen for the abundance of gnomes and/or dwarves that can be eaten, though this is very dependent on your race and alignment as well as conducts; the branch also contains Minetown, which is likely to have a store or two that sells food (unless you happen upon Orctown).

As you progress through the dungeon, it can be worth keeping an eye out for antholes and beehives as well as barracks - generally, you will encounter monsters with more nutritious corpses more frequently as you progress, and they will usually have higher odds to leave corpses as well. This makes food a less pressing issue, especially as giants and eventually dragons become more frequent; a tinning kit can be used to preserve these and other large corpses, both in order to avoid rapid satiation and to stockpile for other purposes like intrinsics and strength increases.

Fort Ludios and the Castle have several barracks containing food-carrying soldiers and containers for stashing the spare food in - even with a bag of holding on hand, it is better not to carry more food than needed. Be aware that using a drawbridge to crush monsters will destroy any food and other items those monsters were carrying.

Food priority

Since different foods pack differing amounts of nutrition into a given size, it makes the most sense to eat "non-efficient" foods first and minimize the amount of your carrying capacity used for food. In order of increasing nutrition per unit weight:

  1. Lizard corpses (though these are best saved for when you are turning to stone)
  2. Non-homemade tins
  3. Known homemade tins and stone to flesh products (i.e. meatballs, meat rings, meat stick, and huge chunk of meat)
  4. Cream pies and lichen corpses
  5. Tripe rations
  6. Fruits and vegetables
  7. C-rations
  8. Food rations, K-rations, fortune cookies (never rotten), cram rations (slightly better for dwarves; never rotten if not cursed)
  9. Nameable fruit and candy bar
  10. Pancakes and lumps of royal jelly
  11. Lembas wafers (never rotten if not cursed)

If using this list as a guide, items closer to the bottom of the list should generally be saved for last, though other factors beyond carrying capacity (such as the chance of being rotten, intrinsics, healing, and available inventory slots) will also affect which food you elect to consume first. When eating in combat situations, non-rotting food that can be eaten quickly is generally best - particularly when confronting Famine in the Astral Plane),

Situational food effects

Eating some other foods also produces various special effects, which can prove useful in certain situations - check the articles of those specific food items for more details.[13] Common uses for specific food include the following:

  • Tripe rations and eggs can be used to induce nausea on purpose, which eventually confuses you; garlic can also induce nausea if you are undead.[14] This is often done to get the confused effects of reading certain scrolls.
  • A sprig of wolfsbane of any beatitude cures lycanthropy.
  • Carrots cure most forms of blindness excluding the ones caused by gunk, e.g. from a cream pie.
  • Fortune cookies have fortunes that can be read after they are eaten to see a rumor, which is true or false depending on that cookie's beatitude; if you are observing vegan or foodless conduct, you can use the read command to break open the cookie instead.
  • A lump of royal jelly increases your strength by one; non-cursed ones cure wounded legs and restore up to 20 HP. If this would make your HP higher than your current maximum, it has a 117 chance of increasing your maximum HP by one, and sets your HP to to the new maximum. Royal jelly is vegetarian in comparison to fully-vegan spinach.
  • A non-cursed eucalyptus leaf cures sickness and nausea.

Foodless conduct

Main article: Foodless

It is possible to ascend without eating food at all - this conduct may require the use of a ring of slow digestion, though it is also possible to even ascend without ever gaining nutrition if you are fast (and lucky) enough. There are several alternate methods of procuring nutrition elsewhere, detailed in the article linked just above - below are some of the more common ones:

  • Praying to your god when weak or fainting from hunger may make your stomach content, setting your nutrition to 900 - this level of hunger is considered a major trouble. This is not possible in Gehennom, where your prayers are never answered positively.
  • Polymorphing resets your hunger if you polymorph into your own race. Polymorphing into a metallivore to eat metallic items violates the foodless conduct, but preserves the vegan conduct unless you eat a tin.
  • An amulet of life saving revives you with at least 900 nutrition if you die.
  • A liquid diet does not violate foodless conduct - potions of fruit juice, water, booze each give a small amount of nutrition, and blessing juice and booze before quaffing is ideal if possible. Quaffing from fountains can also give small amount of nutrition. While it is possible to live off of this for a while, the math works out so that only Tourists can generate enough potions to last the entire game - this can be done with the blessed Platinum Yendorian Express Card, a horn of plenty, and a ring of slow digestion.



SLASH'EM introduces various new comestibles, and makes it possible for corpses and randomly generated comestibles to be blessed or cursed.

The pill and the mushroom have random effects.

tortilla % 9 2 ? 80 40 1? 80 Vegetarian.
holy wafer % 12 1 ? 150 150 1 150 Vegetarian. Cures sickness or lycanthropy (unless your starting race is lycanthrope, in which case it damages you and reduces your strength and constitution). Restores HP if you're lawful, and does non-fatal damage if you're chaotic.
Asian pear % 8 2 ? 75 37.5 1 75 Vegan.
Sandwich % 10 10 ? 100 10 1 100
mushroom % 9 5 ? 90 18 1 90 Vegan. Can cause poisoning, stunning, hallucination, or increase strength by 1.
cheese % 17 2 ? 250 125 2 125 Vegetarian.
pill % ? Vegetarian. Can grant a wish, make you very fast, increase your nutrition, put you to sleep, poison you, stun you, or cause hallucination.
food ration 45 20 380 800 40 5 160 Normal food rations, For reference