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A clip of the movie "Trolls" has this dialogue:

Prince Gristle Jr.: I love it!

Bridget: I think you look "Phat".

Prince Gristle Jr.: What?! [They stare at Bridget]

Poppy: "P-H, Phat". Then, strike that pose.

Bridget: P-H, Phat. Ohh.

Prince Gristle Jr.: Hot lunch. Total Honesty from a total babe. (at 0:11)

The last line starts at 11 seconds into the video.

The prince seems to be referring to Bridget as "Hot lunch".

In context, what does it mean?

Also, is this expression commonly used among native speakers in everyday conversation?

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  • 5
    Sounds like a minced oath for “Hot damn”
    – Jim
    Mar 22 '17 at 3:23
  • @Cascabel I've provided a link to the entire clip that's been uploaded by Disney. I also typed the entire conversation leading up to the line in question. What more context do you need? It's all the context I can get and anyone is supposed to get to interpret the expression.
    – JK2
    Mar 29 '17 at 3:52
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    OK, I just watched it, and without more context, I cannot say what he is talking about. Only someone who knows the movie could interpret it. Probably Jim is right, and it is a minced oath, like "Bull chips", or "Mother trucker". It is a kid´s movie, right?
    – Cascabel
    Mar 29 '17 at 4:06
  • Where exactly is the link located for me to click? Mar 30 '17 at 16:04
  • @YosefBaskin The first line, "clip"
    – JK2
    Mar 30 '17 at 17:18
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+50

Hot lunch is a pun, a play on words.

All the OP needs to know is that the protagonist of the clip is Prince Gristle. What is a gristle? It's a stringy piece of meat elastin that is particularly unpleasant to look at, and more significantly, tough to chew. If you find gristle in your meat, you'll probably feel mild disgust and leave it on your plate.

From the following Wikipedia synopsis, we discover that Prince Gristle is a Bergen, the term sounds very similar to burger, and sub-par burgers will contain bits of gristle. Bridget says that Prince Gristle looks fat, which he is, but immediately corrects herself by adding P-H, Phat. Phat could be an acronym that stands for Pretty Hot and Tasty, but Merriam-Webster defines it as very attractive or appealing, and Oxford Dictionaries says it's an informal term for excellent.

Thus we have names and expressions that evoke the theme of food: Gristle, Bergen, and phat. When the Prince exclaims "hot lunch" the theme of food has been laid out on the table. Attractive and sexy "babes" (and "hunks") in the US are often described as being hot,

Merriam-Webster defines it as sexy in its second definition

2. b (1) : sexually excited or receptive It's obvious he's hot for her.
(2) : sexy That guy she's dating is really hot.

While Oxford Dictionaries describes hot as someone who is sexually attractive and offers this example, ‘a hot chick’.

So in the movie, hot lunch is just a punchline, a gag, and, as @1006a noted, a phrase that the movie's target audience—school kids—are largely familiar with. English speakers do not normally call anyone sexually attractive a hot lunch, but they might say someone is tasty looking and the phrase "I could eat you up" is said teasingly to someone who looks very cute.


The plot synopsis courtesy of Wikipedia

The Trolls are small creatures who live in an almost perpetual state of happiness, singing, dancing and hugging all day long. However, they are discovered by the Bergens, large creatures who never feel happy, but discover that they can feel happy for a moment, if they devour a Troll. The Bergens put the Trolls and their tree in a cage, and hold an annual festival, called Trollstice, in which each Bergen gets its feeling of happiness, by eating a Troll. However, the Trolls, led by their King Peppy, escape through underground tunnels on the day that Prince Gristle Jr. would eat his first Troll.

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  • Also in the clip, the character strikes a pseudo-model's pose that is coquettish. So, she shows herself off as hot, and he finds her to be hot. Lunch indicates 'serve me a slice of that.' Mar 30 '17 at 18:10
  • Mari-Lou, could you check the proposed addition, please? Apr 2 '17 at 13:10
  • @Mari-LouA - It's your answer to roll back, so hopefully no harm done. Apr 2 '17 at 17:27
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Based upon the provided clip, I really do agree with Jim. It's a euphemism for hot damn. Even the usual minced oaths are too much for some parents to handle, so in order to make the broadest appeal possible they mince further into something somewhat unique, more innocuous and mostly unrecognizable.

Prince Gristle is upset, but when he turns around and sees who's talking, his mood changes entirely from being angry to wistful, because he's pleasantly surprised to be getting attention from a member of the opposite sex that he deems to be attractive. Merriam Webster's 12,000 Words: A Supplement to Webster's Third New International Dictionary notes that this phrase is usually used to express pleasant surprise.

What Merriam-Webster doesn't tell you is that the phrase is often used in those heart-throbbing moments when a guy is impressed by a pretty gal, especially if it is in a lustful way:

"Hot damn. Tenderoni," one man yelled "Will you be my wife?" — Project Queen By Teresa D. Patterson

Hot damn, but she were a fine lookin' woman. I be burnin with wantin' her now, just to be thinkin' about her. — Horses Lemons And Pretty Girls By Michael George

But this woman? Hot damn. She was sexy and intelligent and, he suspected, a little metal. He couldn't tell because she was wearing a blazer over her blouse and jeans, but he thought he was right.


Rock Bottom (Bullet #2) By Jade C. Jamison


Granted, this is by no means an exclusive use, and Oxford Living Dictionaries rightly notes that hot damn can also express anger or alarm too, depending on the circumstance, but I opine the exemplified type of use is nevertheless common enough that it would be reasonable for many people who already know the phrase is used this way to notice the allusion while watching this scene. Having stated that though, I would more often expect it to be exclaimed in the manner of a rowdy cowboy, but it is also not too much of a stretch of my imagination to imagine it being said like that.

Why lunch then? Well, aside from the appeal of a warm meal, perhaps that has something to do with calling women "a hot little dish" but I'm not sure enough about that to expand upon that hypothesis more than that.

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  • 3
    +1 For the question "why hot lunch": I think this is following the minced-oath pattern of substituting another common phrase that has the same rhythm and starts the same way as the full oath, e.g. "shut the f...ront door". Hot lunch is a common term in elementary schools for the meal provided by the school cafeteria (as opposed to cold lunch which is what you bring from home in a paper bag or a lunch box) and so would be familiar to much of the film's target audience. So it fits the pattern of "Hot...(word)!" and also works with the food theme @Mari-LouA identified.
    – 1006a
    Mar 29 '17 at 15:32
  • @1006a - I like your explanation of hot lunch in public schools in the U.S. (but it's all the way through high school, not just elementary). May I add it to Mari-Lou's answer (since comments are ephemeral)? (I find Mari-Lou's answer much more useful than Tonepoet's here.) Apr 2 '17 at 1:48
  • @aparente001 Yes, feel free.
    – 1006a
    Apr 2 '17 at 5:12
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Since comments are ephemeral, I will write an addendum to Mari-Lou's great answer. I'm using text contributed by @1006a, with permission, and a slight modification of my own:

For the question "why hot lunch": Hot lunch is a common term in U.S. schools (kindergarten or Pre-K up through 12th grade of high school) for the meal provided by the school cafeteria (as opposed to cold lunch which is what you bring from home in a paper bag or a lunch box), and so would be familiar to much of the film's target audience. So it fits the pattern of "Hot...(word)!" and also works with the food theme Mari-Lou identified.

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