Here's something you may not have known about our company: we work hard, but we have a lot of fun while we're at it. And when we realized we don't show you our fun side nearly as much as we should, well, we decided to bring some of it to you!

That’s why we decided to pick our favorite cafeteria scenes in movies and TV. These titles are some of the most memorable around, whether that’s because they’re integral to building story and characters, or because they’re just plain-old fun to watch!

So without further ado, let’s take a look at our picks:

Napoleon Dynamite

For everyone who fell in love with this low-budget, early-2000s film, it's gratifying to see the Nutrislice team pick it for top cafeteria scene honors! The scene itself holds two key moments that contribute to the overall quirkiness of the film and its main character, Napoleon.

In the first moment, Napoleon gets permission from his friend Pedro to have his tater tots. Napoleon then grabs the tots and unceremoniously stores them in a zippered side pocket of his pants, with Pedro looking on blankly. 

Next, Napoleon gets up the nerve to go talk to Deb, who he awkwardly asks/underhandedly compliments if she’s drinking 1% milk because she thinks she’s fat (“because you’re not, you could be drinking whole if you wanted to”).

Needless to say, this scene’s hard to forget! 


Mean Girls

You’d be hard-pressed to find any list of cafeteria scenes in movies without running across Mean Girls. So it’s no surprise we thought this movie had to be included in our top 5 list, too.

Mean Girls contains several scenes that take place in the high school cafeteria, all of which serve as instrumental moments between the main character Cady and the group of 3 popular girls known as “the Plastics.” 

The lunch scenes even help set up the sequence of events as Cady’s relationship with the group progresses: first she meets them and is accepted into the group, then they teach her the group’s rules, then they start hounding leader Regina when she breaks a rule.

Overall, the first cafeteria scene is probably one of the most “fetch” in cinema history:


Harry Potter

Okay, so the Great Hall from Harry Potter isn’t a real-life school cafeteria but it sure is the most gorgeous fictional one! Who wouldn’t want to include it in their list of favorite cafeteria scenes?

Like in Mean Girls, Harry Potter boasts several scenes across its books/movies that take place in a memorable cafeteria setting. In fact, the Great Hall itself is used for many delectable dining scenes across a few of the films, as well as vital non-food moments like the fight between the Order of the Phoenix and Voldemort’s followers, the Death Eaters.

One of our favorite food scenes, however, was the dinner feast Harry, Hermione, and Ron get to experience as first-year students at Hogwarts. We’re sure many foodservice operators wish they could make food magically appear like this!

Fun fact: did you know the set design team for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone initially suspended real candles from wires above the dining tables before switching to CGI after the candles burned through their wires?


Back to the Future

If you ever thought your parents were weird, Marty McFly knows exactly how you feel – and then some. In Back to the Future, the 1980s teenager travels back thirty years in time and accidentally meets his high school-aged parents.

Of course, the film is on our list because it includes a cafeteria scene that covers some eventful situations for these characters. For starters, Marty finds the younger version of his father sitting alone at a table writing science fiction, which surprises him because he’s used to his father being anything but creative. 

The scene also finds Marty defending his mother from a bully named Biff, who’s trying to make a move on her against her will. His actions are a credit to his upbringing – ironically instilled in him in the future by his current-day parents.

Does this mean the Marty who traveled to the past influenced his mother to teach his future self to stand up to bullies? Maybe, but let’s not get into all that timeline stuff.


The Office

Last but not least was our #5 pick for best cafeteria scenes in movies and TV: The Office. This was the only television show to make our list and the only example of a corporate cafeteria scene we thought was highly memorable.

Despite The Office taking place in a business setting for 9 seasons, there’s really only one time we see any of the characters eat at a corporate dining operation. That scene is when Michael Scott and Jan Levinson travel to New York City for the deposition of her lawsuit against Dunder Mifflin. 

Jan makes Michael testify against the company, which she claims wrongfully terminated her and where he’s still employed. During a break, the two head to the corporate cafeteria for lunch but Jan opts to sit with her lawyers, forcing Michael to take the only empty seat left next to the coworker he hates most, HR representative Toby Flenderson.

As expected, Michael’s not too happy with this, nor is he happy that Jan stole his personal diary to use as evidence for her case. The entire situation rolls up into one tense yet awkwardly silly scene: 


Honorable Mention: Remember the Titans

Our team nearly tied The Office cafeteria scene with the one from Remember the Titans, so we thought we’d give it an honorable mention! 

At football camp, players from the Virginia high school T.C. Williams are living and dining at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania as they try to learn how to get along despite their racial differences. The lunch scene takes place in the college’s cafeteria after a practice session.

Denzel Washington’s character Coach Boone asks one of his white players what he knows about the music preferences of one of his African-American teammates. Then he asks the rest of the players to volunteer their knowledge of other teammates. No one responds. So Coach Boone instigates three practices a day until they start spending time together. 

It’s a cafeteria scene with some harsh realities, but one that shows the importance of building trust in your teammates no matter their skin color.


If you enjoyed this post, keep an eye out for similar pieces in the future as we dive into even more foodservice fun!

Did we miss one of your favorite scenes? Tag us on social (LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook) and let us know!