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This article is about long-lasting comestibles. For other corpses, see corpse.

A comestible % is anything edible; it is food. You eat food with the e command.

The word edible means that that you can eat it. It does not imply that you should eat it. Some food is bad to eat. For example, some corpses are poisonous. Unless you are poison resistant, it is probably a bad idea to eat them.

One important type of harmful comestibles is rotten comestibles. Eggs and most corpses eventually become rotten, and then rot away completely, unless you do specific steps to preserve them. All other comestibles are "permafood"; you can save them as long as you like.

Normally, if you don't eat, you will eventually die from hunger. There are several ways to postpone or prevent such a death, so it is possible to ascend without eating (see foodless for more information).

Another important reason to eat is that some comestibles give you useful intrinsics or improve your abilities. For instance, tin of spinach and royal jelly both increase your strength. For more information about beneficial and harmful effects of corpses, see Corpse#Corpse benefits and dangers.

Some monsters also eat comestibles. There are also monsters who eat things besides comestible, e. g. metallivore eats metal items. If you polymorph into such a monster, you will also be able to eat such items.

List of comestibles

meatball 5 1 0 5 5 1 5
meat ring 5 1 0 5 5 1 5
meat stick 5 1 0 5 5 1 5
egg 9 1 85 80 80 1 80
tripe ration 15 10 140 200 20 2 100
huge chunk of meat 105 400 0 2000 5 20 100
kelp frond 6 1 0 30 30 1 30
eucalyptus leaf 6 1 3 30 30 1 30
clove of garlic 7 1 7 40 40 1 40
sprig of wolfsbane 7 1 7 40 40 1 40
apple 7 2 15 50 25 1 50
carrot 7 2 15 50 25 1 50
pear 7 2 10 50 25 1 50
banana 9 2 10 80 40 1 80
orange 9 2 10 80 40 1 80
melon 10 5 10 100 20 1 100
slime mold 17 5 75 250 50 1 250
fortune cookie 7 1 55 40 40 1 40
candy bar 10 2 13 100 50 1 100
cream pie 10 10 25 100 10 1 100
lump of royal jelly 15 2 0 200 100 1 200
pancake 15 2 25 200 100 2 100
C-ration 20 10 0 300 30 1 300
K-ration 25 10 0 400 40 1 400
cram ration 35 15 20 600 40 3 200
food ration 45 20 380 800 40 5 160
lembas wafer 45 5 20 800 160 2 400
homemade tin 5 10 75 50 5 vary vary
tin of spinach, blessed 5 10 75 600 60 vary vary
tin of spinach, uncursed 5 10 75 401-600 40.1-60 vary vary
tin of spinach, cursed 5 10 75 201-600 20.1-60 vary vary
other tins 5 10 75 vary vary vary vary
lichen corpse 5 20 0 200 10 3 66
lizard corpse 5 10 0 40 4 3 13
other corpses 5 vary 0 vary vary vary vary

Sources of food

  • Some monsters have a chance of dropping a corpse.
  • Sokoban always contains a large amount of food, though whether it is all fit for normal consumption is a question to be answered when you get there.
  • Antholes and beehives sometimes contain food.
  • Ice boxes may contain up to 20 fresh corpses.
  • A horn of plenty dispenses a random food item or potion when applied
  • Soldiers often carry C- or K-Rations, so places with a large concentration of soldiers (such as Fort Ludios) are a good place to find these rations.

Eating comestibles

When you eat any comestible other than a tainted corpse or a rotten tin, you receive its nutrition value. The nutrition is provided uniformly during eating, e. g. if an item takes 5 turns to eat, then after 2 turns of eating eat you receive 40% of its nutrition value. See nutrition for more information.

When you eat a corpse, many good or bad things may happen. See corpse for more information.

Most comestibles have a chance of being rotten. Cursed non-corpse comestibles are almost always rotten, most others have 1/7 chance of being rotten. If a comestible is rotten, eating it may cause ill effects. See the #Rotten food section below for more information. You will not know that a comestible is rotten until you eat it.

Tin are either from a monster (called tin of foo meat, or just tin of foo, if it is vegetable), or are tins of spinach.

Before you eat a tin, you are notified what monster (or spinach) it is made of. ("It smells like (monsters). Eat it?", or "It constans spinach. Eat it?" or "It contains some decaying (green) substance. Eat it?", if it is a cursed tin of spinach.) If you chose not to eat it, you "discard the open tin" and it is gone.

Tins of a monster (meat), when eaten, mostly cause the same effects as the monster corpse. For example, eating a tin of a domestic dog, unless you are an orc or a caveman, will give you the aggravate monster intrinsic as if you eat a corpse of domestic dog. There are, however, important differences:

  • Depending on what are you wielding, and whether the tin is blessed, it may take a while to open the tin. However, if you wield a blessed tin opener, the tin would open immediately.
  • Eating a tin takes only 1 turn.
  • Most of these tins are not very nutritious. For most tins, the nutrition value is 20-100. Only pureed tins has a nutrition value of 500. It may be good, e.g. if you have 4 corpses of stone giants, you will hardly be able to eat more than one, but tin it, and you will likely be able to eat all four without choking.
    • The nutrition value does not depend on a monster. It depends on the preparation method, which is determined randomly when you open the tin.
    • Some tins are rotten. Their nutrition value is effectively 0, and they case vomiting, which, in turn, makes you more hungry.
    • For tins made with tinning kit, the preparation method is either homemade (6/7 cases, nutrition value 50) or rotten (1/7 cases).
  • Even if a corpse is old, tins of its meat made with tinning kit will be fresh.
  • Tins of poisonuos or acidic monsters do not cause any harm.
  • Some tins (fried, french fried) make your fingers slippery for a while. Your weapon, if you wield one, falls to the ground.

See tin for more information.

1/6 of newly generated tins contain spinach. A tin of spinach increases intrinsic strength (unless it is already at maximum). Its nutritional value is as high as 600.

There are also empty tins. One way to get an empty tin is to wish for a tin of genocided monster. They provide no food.

Eggs become stale after 400 turns. A stale egg makes you nauseated for 10d4 (more) turns[1] ("Ugh. Rotten egg."), thus being a good source of confusion. Wand of undead turning rejuvinates eggs. While 2/3 of newly generated eggs are just eggs, 1/3 are eggs of a random non-aquatic, egg laying monster. If the monster happens to be cockatrice or chickatrice, you get delayed petrification unless resistant.[2][3] Unless you identified the egg, you will not know it is a footrice egg until you eat it. There are no other effects from eating eggs (e.g. eggs never confer intrinsics).

Eating some other foods also produce special effects[4]:

  • Tripe rations sometimes give you 1 point of experience. More importantly, unless you are orc, caveman, or polymorphed to a non-human carnivorous, they make you nauseous.[5]
  • Garlic make you nauseous if you are undead.[6]
  • Sprig of wolfsbane, even a cursed one, cures lycanthropy.
  • Carrot, even a cursed one, cures blindness, unless caused by throwing cream pie to your face.
  • Fortune cookie "has a scrap of paper inside." Unless blind, you read a rumor, which is true/random/false for blessed/uncursed/cursed fortune cookie. (If blind, you instead get the message "What a pity that you cannot read it!")
  • Non-cursed Lump of royal jelly:
    • increases your strength by one
    • delivers 1-20 hit points. If your hp is now higher than maximum, has 1/17 chance to increase maximum hit points by one, and then sets your hit points to maximal hit points
    • cures wounded legs
  • Cursed Lump of royal jelly increases your strength by one but decreases your hit points by 1-20, and does not cure wounded legs.
  • Non-cursed eucalyptus leaf cures sickness and nausea.
  • Cursed apple sends you to sleep for 20-30 moves, unless you are sleep resistant. ("You hear sinister laughter as you fall asleep...", or "You fall asleep" for deaf, or "Heigh-ho, ho-hum, I think I'll skip work today." for hallucinating dwarves.) This is a reference to Snow White.

Rotten food

Most foodstuffs have a chance of being rotten. (Not to be confused with tainted food, which is much more serious but only affects corpses.) For most comestibles, this chance is applied when the food is first eaten and cannot be determined in advance.

  • The following comestibles are never rotten: lembas wafers, cram rations[7], fortune cookies[8], lizard corpses, and lichen corpses[9]
  • Cursed non-corpse comestibles other than specified above are always rotten.[10]
  • Non-cursed non-corpse comestibles are never rotten if their age is not more than 30 (if uncursed) or 50 (if blessed).[11]
  • Tainted, "old", poisonous corpses are never rotten in this sense. Acidic corpses are never rotten unless you have acid resistance.[12]
  • All other comestibles have 1/7 chance to be rotten.[13][14]

Upon beginning to eat rotten food, you get the "Blecch! Rotten <food>!" message, and one of the following occurs[15]:

  • You are confused for 2d4 (more) turns. "You feel rather light-headed." (or "You feel rather trippy" if hallucinating)
  • You are blinded for 2d10 turns. "Everything suddenly goes dark." Never happens if you are already blind.
  • You pass out for 1-10 turns. During that time, you are deaf. Sleep resistance doesn't help. "The world spins and goes dark." -or- "The world spins and you slap against the (ground/saddle/...)" -or- "The world spins and you lose control of yourself". Which of the messages you receive depends on your blindness, levitation, and what kind of level you are at.
  • Nothing of the above

Chances of each outcome depend on whether you are blind or not.[15]

Outcome Not blind Blind
Confusion 1/4 1/4
Blindness 3/16 0
Pass out 3/16 1/4
Nothing 3/8 1/2

Food strategy

Some adventurers don't carry enough food to the dungeon entrance. Recall from the Guidebook:

"In the morning you awake, collect your belongings, and set off for the dungeon. After several days of uneventful travel, you see the ancient ruins that mark the entrance to the Mazes of Menace. It is late at night, so you make camp at the entrance and spend the night sleeping under the open skies. In the morning, you gather your gear, eat what may be your last meal outside, and enter the dungeon..."

While you packed enough food for "several days" of journey, by the time you actually get inside, you don't have much food with you. Some roles start the game with a small pile of 2 food rations, but some roles didn't think ahead, and start with no food at all. In any case, one of the early goals of the game is to secure an adequate food supply.

To stay alive, many players at the start of their dungeon exploration will eat the corpses of their slain enemies. It is common to find adventurers eating the remains of anything that their pet does not reach first. Care must be taken, of course, as some corpses are poisonous or may cause other problems (e.g., hallucination). Even harmless corpses "taste terrible." Those concerned with keeping the vegan or vegetarian conduct will also be more discerning in eating the corpses of their vanquished foes.

Early on, easy to find sources for food include the corpses of gnomes and dwarves in the Gnomish Mines, and the guaranteed food in Sokoban. If you are a gnome or dwarf, then feasting in the Mines may be problematic, unless you are a cave(wo)man. Also, gnome corpses only give 100 nutrition - not very much. The stores in Minetown may also have food. Sokoban, with its food and wands, is a sensible early target, even if one doesn't finish the whole area.

Lower in the main dungeon, one can sometimes find beehives and antholes. Beehives contain royal jelly, and Antholes will contain one food item per square, which should yield a reasonable stack of food rations. Fort Ludios, if it exists, is filled with many well-provisioned soldiers, and the Castle will also provide a large supply of C- and K-Rations. Be aware that using the drawbridge to clear the Castle will destroy the food supply.

Even then, the supply is finite, so some players continue to eat monster corpses. Random Number God helpfully continues to provide them. Monster corpses may be stored for later use in tins using the tinning kit, or in ice boxes. Tainted, poisonous, or acidic corpses are neutralized by tinning; hallucination, stoning, and sliming are not.

Should I eat dessert first?

When an adventurer is able to obtain several different types of comestibles in their inventory, the next question is:

"What should I eat first?"

Since different foods pack differing amounts of nutrition into a given size, it makes the most sense to eat non-efficient foods first. This way, you minimize the amount of your carrying-capacity used for food. Using the NUTR/WGT column in the table above, we see that lembas wafers are the most weight-efficient forms of nutrition in NetHack (excepting prayer, of course!), with royal jelly, pancakes and candy bars closely following the Elven treats. Therefore, the adventurer is generally advised to eat other foodstuffs first.

Cream pies and meatballs are particularly inefficient for travel, but they have other uses that may out-weigh their low NUTR/WGT factor.

Tins weigh 10 and vary in nutrition, but only puréed monsters and spinach equal or exceed the NUTR/WGT of rations. So any unidentified tin should probably be eaten before any other food. (Plus you'd hope to get the benefits of spinach or floating eye corpses sooner than later.)

In order of increasing nutrition per unit weight:

  1. Tins
  2. Meatballs, huge chunks of meat
  3. Cream pies
  4. Tripe (may make you sick!)
  5. Fruits and Vegetables
  6. Food rations, fortune cookies
  7. Candy bar
  8. Pancakes and royal jelly
  9. Lembas wafers

Of course, other factors in deciding the menu for today's meal can include the benefits conferred by eating each food (e.g. intrinsics, healing), the dietary needs of pets, and if your inventory slots are constrained because you don't have a container. You may wish to leave lembas until the ascension run, so you can carry more loot for score.

When forced to eat in combat situations (especially when confronting famine in the astral plane), eating the food that has the most time-efficient (has the best NUTR/TIME factor) first could prove a better option. K-Rations are the usual choice here, as they contain a fair bit of nutrition, but are consumed in only 1 turn.

Alternatives to eating

Main article: foodless

It is possible to ascend without eating food. There are several techniques available for this, and most require the use of a ring of slow digestion because in real games they do not tend to yield much nutrition per time. These include:

  • Praying - Your god may make your stomach content, setting your nutrition to 900. Being weak or fainting increases your chances of success because that is considered a major trouble. This is not possible in Gehennom, where your prayers are never answered positively.
  • Polymorphing - your hunger is reset when you polymorph into a new you. If you polymorph into a xorn or other metallivore, you can eat metallic items to sate your hunger -- this violates the foodless conduct, but preserves the vegan conduct, except perhaps if you eat a tin.
  • Life Saving - an amulet of life saving will revive you with at least 900 nutrition, regardless if starvation was what actually killed you. While you may die from starvation, you'll get better and may still ascend.
  • Liquid diet - Potions of fruit juice, potions of water, potions of booze (preferably blessed) and sipping from fountains each give a small amount of nutrition. It is possible to live off of this, but the maths works out such that only tourists can generate enough potions with the blessed Platinum Yendorian Express Card, a horn of plenty, and a ring of slow digestion.
  • Initial nutrition - it is possible to ascend without ever gaining nutrition if you are fast (and lucky) enough.


Some new food stuff in SLASH'EM.

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


  1. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1775
  2. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 2112
  3. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1714
  4. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 2065
  5. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1713
  6. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1734
  7. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 53
  8. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 2531
  9. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 48
  10. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 2531
  11. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 2531
  12. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1552
  13. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1599
  14. eat.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 2531
  15. 15.0 15.1 [src/eat.c#rottenfood]

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Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-360}}.