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I'd like 20 tacos of grilled meat, some pozole with pork legs... oh, and a large diet soda, 'cause I want to lose weight!
—"La Dieta", by the Mexican group La Fresa
A standard comedic effect used in various media to emphasize the overindulgence that came before. In various talk shows that featured exceptionally obese people, they would often show a fast food customer ordering an exceptionally large meal including multiple sandwiches, fries and desserts, and concluding with, "and a Diet Coke."
Despite being a staple joke on obesity and hypocrisy (especially the tired "Americans are fatasses" routine), it happens in Real Life for various legit reasons such as diabetes, calorie intake (soda averages 150 to 200 calories a can; a heavy soda drinker can see a tremendous benefit from cutting those calories), or simple taste preference.
- A Channel 4 "Friends is sponsored by Nescafe" clip had two women drinking coffee. The one with the huge cream cake in front of her was offered the sugar and reacted with horror, taking sweeteners out of her handbag.
- There was a Diet Coke commercial from the '80s featuring a Sumo wrestler being told by his master that he needs to greatly increase his calorie intake, then after Sensei exits, the wrestler looks around, and pulls out and taps a can of Diet Coke while the theme "Just for the taste of it" starts playing.
- Back when William "The Refrigerator" Perry was a big name in American football, McDonalds did a commercial starring him. The young woman taking his order (whose height, by the way, only went up to about the middle of his chest; The Fridge was a big guy) read it back to him: "That's four McDLTs, two large fries...and a diet Coke?"
Anime and Manga
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, America gets on the scale, and is horrified that he gained weight despite balancing out the copious amount of fattening snacks with diet Coke.
- Marvel Comics once did a gag issue of its What If? title, featuring short gags of a single page or less. One gag was "What If Tony Stark had an eating problem instead of a drinking problem?" The first panel shows an overweight Stark telling his date he can stop eating anytime he wants to, then he gives the waiter his order: "I'll have a cow, medium rare. And a Tab."
- In Superman II, Lois is using a citrus juicer to squeeze a fresh glass of orange juice "because it's good for you"... while she's smoking.
- Not to mention the "You shouldn't smoke" "Cancer, right?" "Not yet, thank goodness." scene in the first film.
- When Harold and Kumar finally get to White Castle, the former requests 30 sliders, 5 french fries, and 4 cherry cokes. Kumar, instead, asks for Diet Cokes.
- The Santa Clause gives us this little tidbit: "And I'll have a Caesar. No dressing. And one of those homemade cookies, the warm chocolate chip. No nuts. And a little slice of cheesecake. Uh, creme brulée, and, um, hot fudge sundae, extra hot fudge... On the side."
- Done in A Cinderella Story.
- Also done in True Romance when Christian Slater's character goes to buy "the two biggest, fattest burgers" a burger stand has, two chili fries... and a Diet Coke. This is done in contrast to his wife getting beaten savagely—nay destroyed—by a very angry James Gandolfini.
- In The Nutty Professor 2, Sherman's mother mentions her latest diet: You can eat as much as you want, as long as you also drink lots of grapefruit juice to help digest it. Presumably she thought the citric acid would destroy the food completely.
- This diet exists outside the movie. No shit.
- Precious played this while asking a bucket of fried chicken. She said she would choose the side later because she was trying to watch her figure, but when the lady was looking for said side she runs away with the chicken without paying.
- Brazilian movie A Partilha (based on a play) has a woman writing a "diet control" list. One of her three sisters gets it, and the four read and laugh seeing all entries have Diet Coke. One even mocks it:
"A cheeseburguer, two coconut cookies, breathing complications, a heart attack and a Diet Coke!"
- Making Mr. Right contains a running joke in which Ann Magnuson’s character always drowns her sorrows in Diet Coke and a pint of Fruzen Gladje ice cream.
- Inverted: A fat woman visits her doctor. He tells her to stick to a special assortment of fruit and vegetables for the next whole week as part of her new diet. After a week, he weighs her and says "Jesus Christ, you grown even fatter! What on earth did you do?" "Well, doctor, you see, after all those tasty little goodies I just found too very hard to choke down that diet of yours as well."
- The old joke about a man who orders a banana split, with ice-cream, fudge, chocolate sauce, crushed nuts and whipped cream. The waiter asks if he'd like a cherry on top. "No thanks, I'm on a diet".
- In his book Couplehood Paul Reiser jokes about this phenomenon using the related "diet" foodstuffs of cottage cheese and half a peach. Supposedly having either of these makes any meal a dieter's platter.
- In Dave Barry Does Japan, Barry reports seeing a sumo wrestler leaving a match purchase a Diet Coke.
- In Bridge of Birds, there's a morbidly obese merchant who orders an obscene meal, but then passes on dessert because he says he needs to watch his diet.
Ten Ox: Master Li, you won't believe this, but that merchant began with four large tureens of pimento and dumpling soup. Then he devoured three bowls of mussel stew, a pound of pickled mallows, two pounds of steamed snails, three servings of soft-shelled crabs, two plates of sweetmeats, ten honey cakes, and a watermelon. The proprietor wondered whether the esteemed guest might care for six or seven quarts of peaches in heavy syrup, but the merchant explained that he was on a diet and would be forced to settle for a gallon of green tea flavored with pine kernels.
- In Chapter 3 of the Dean Koontz novel Cold Fire, reporter Holly Thorne goes to a bakery for lunch, orders five different pastries, then asks for a Diet Coke.
Live Action TV
- On an episode of The Odd Couple, Oscar asks a visiting monk to make him a hamburger. On the burger, he asks for mustard, relish, pickles, hot sauce, peppers and chili. The monk says, "No onions?" Oscar replies, "No, I've got an ulcer."
- One episode of Stargate SG-1 has the team's metabolism massively accelerated dues to the week's phlebotninum. Each one of them orders three steaks. And Sam orders a diet soda. When Jack and Daniel look at her all funny, she says, "What? I like the taste better!"
- In an episode of Threes Company, Jack is working as a short-order cook. A female customer asks if the restaurant offers a diet platter; upon being told yes, she says, "I'll take two."
- In the Wings episode "Wingless, Part 2", the Hacketts are flying a country music duo on a concert tour. When the overweight member of the pair asks for a Diet Coke, her oversexed partner sarcastically compares it to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
- Also occurs in the British TV series Porridge, where Fletcher is offered cocoa, which he accepts, and then sugar. He refuses the biscuits, citing watching his weight, as he dumps at least four heaping spoonfuls of sugar in his already-sweet cocoa.
- In an episode of Thirty Rock an incredulous donut-shop salesgirl checks that Liz wants "a dozen donuts to stay?" to which Liz adds, "And a skim milk!"
- A sketch on The Ossie Ostrich Video Show had Ossie asking for 25 sugars in his cup of tea before adding "...but don't stir it. I hate anything sweet."
- Frasier. When taking part in a weight-loss challenge yet finding that he's still gaining weight, the titular doctor exclaims, "But I added a salad to every meal!"
- Nickelodeon's My Brother and Me had a variant. Roger once made a comically large submarine sandwich for lunch that he prepared to eat all by himself and wash down with root beer. Then, after judging the sandwich's weight, Roger decides to settle on diet root beer, instead.
- When Sooty asks for sausage, egg, baked beans, chips and fried bread with jam for breakfast, Soo says that she doesn't want all that as she's on a diet - so no jam on her fried bread, thanks.
- Defended by Donna on Suits;
Mike: I don't get that. You get a skimmed milk latte, and then you put whipped cream and sugar in it.
- Happens in Dukes of Hazzard, in the episode "Ghost of General Lee"
Enos: A double order of catfish, hush puppies, pickles and onions, large order of fries, and extra thick chocolate milk and two slices of pecan pie. Is that right?
- Tenacious D had a sketch on their title album that featured this joke. Jack is trying to watch his figure, so he goes to a drive-thru and orders a Junior Western Bacon Chee, a small (SMALL!) Seasoned Curlys, a Filet-of-Fish sandwich ("which has less calories, 'cause it's fish,") a six-piece chicken nuggets with two of the nuggets "shoved up (the order-taker's) ass", a mixture of half Coca-Cola and half Diet Coke, and a Cherries Jubilee, all at the same time.
- Mika's "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" has a refrain of "Diet Coke and a pizza, please!"
- Psychostick's Do You Want A Taco
I'd like 4,000 tacos and a diet coke.
- In Matthew Good's song "21st Century Living," which comments on how our society wants to make everything bigger and better (i.e. supersizing it all), Matt wryly notes that we should just supersize everything. Voiceover says: "I'd like to supersize death. Can I have a supersize of death? I'd like to supersize a death with a Coke."
- Occurs in this Garfield strip.
- Inverted in this one, in which Garfield is given a lasagna that's low calorie and one-third fat. He requests two more.
- A similar situaton was depicted in a Beetle Bailey strip in which the already-corpulent Sergeant Snorkel piled one sinfully indulgent treat after another from the Camp Swampy cafeteria onto his tray, and when called out for it defended himself by saying that everything in the cafeteria was low-fat. This prompted Beetle to point out that the only high-fat thing in the cafeteria was Sarge himself!
- Rodney Anoa'i, better known as the mock-Sumo wrestler Yokozuna, took this trope literally in Real Life; a serious Big Eater who insisted on drinking Diet Coke. When he entered wrestling he already weighed 500lbs, and at his biggest was at least 750lbs.
- "Fluffy" comedian Gabriel Iglesias mentions that he drinks diet soda, "so [he] can eat regular cake".
- In White Wolf's Game Studio's superhero game Aberrant a character being interviewed about the nova's increased metabolism mentions ordering fifty Whoppers and a small Diet Coke at Burger King.
- In the musical adaptation of Footloose, Wendy Jo says, "I'll have a hula burger double patty cheesemelt with extra mayo and an order of fries," The other girls just stare at her, and she sheepishly finishes "...and a Diet Coke."
- In Sam And Max Hit The Road, one of the answering machine messages Sam and Max get is a wrong number for a bakery, with someone placing an order for "200 lemon meringue pies and a small diet soda".
- In this Ponyville comic, Dash orders a large order at Burrito Burro's "...and a salad!"
- In this page of The Wotch, Sonja (who is actually Jason under a spell, and not overweight at all) orders a huge number of snacks on a mock-date (hey, "her" figure was magically created, and she's not the one paying!) Her clueless date jokingly asks if she also wants a Diet Coke. Sonja's response? "Are you calling me fat?!"
- In The Salvation War, Bill Clinton orders in a Macdonald’s "a double quarter-pounder with extra cheese, two super-size portions of fries, oh and a small diet soda please."
- The website Not Always Right has a story about a customer at a movie theater concession stand who asks for enough artificial butter in his popcorn to make it start swimming, and then says "Lemme have a Diet Coke. A small one. I’m trying to watch my weight."
- In Robot Chicken's Star Wars, two of the space slugs order out for Chinese food, including 5 million tons of Kung Pao chicken, 3 million pot stickers, 5 million tons of fried rice and... one order of scallion pancakes.
- In an episode of Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko and Heffer are behind a rotund pig woman at the movie concession stand, and she orders a substantial amount of snacks... "and a diet soda. After all, I've gotta watch my girlish figure."
- In an episode of Beavis and Butthead a rather large woman comes into Burger World orders "a large chocolate shake, 3 orders of onion rings, an apple pie, and a diet cola".
- The Simpsons takes the joke a step further when, after Homer orders an assortment of fried foods from Krusty Burger, the clerk offers to deep-fry the bag. He accepts the offer, and then asks for "a Diet Coke. Deep-fried."
- Another time, Homer, at an ice cream parlor, is on his health-kick, so he orders a low-fat vanilla with a bunch of bland named junk food and candy products.
- Another episode has Homer join a Fat and Proud group, where the snacks offered are all manner of sugary deep-fried delights with lots of diet soda to wash them down.
- In Teen Titans, Cyborg does this at an entirely meat based restaurant. He orders multiple combo meals in rapid succession, then stops and asks for a diet soda. But when told they do not have soda (only meat), he simply asks for a cup of meat juice.
- On DuckTales when Burger Beagle orders a (rather large) meal from Gizmo Duck (he's pretending to be the drive-thru robot speaker), he orders a diet cola as well.
- Family Guy: While driving Lois' pregnant sister to the hospital, Peter stops off at a drive-thru to order several cheeseburgers, but vacillates on the fries: "If I have fries, is anyone else gonna have any? I don't wanna be the only one eating 'em. I'll feel like a fatty."
- They later did a straight depiction of the "heavy woman drinking diet soda" gag, and they were even nice enough to explain the joke.
- Hey Arnold: When Harold gets teased for being overweight, he decides to get something else from the Jolly Olly Man instead of his regular 6 Mister Fudgies. The Jolly Olly Man says that diet Mister Fudgies have half the fat of regular ones. Harold orders 12 of them. Nothing about this scene (or the episode) is played for laughs.
- Cats Don't Dance has a subtle example where Darla Dimple is pigging out on a big pile of food. It's mostly junk food, but if you look closely there's a single apple on the pile.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 series, Rocksteady asks the secretary, "Bring me five hundred jelly donuts and a diet soda. I'm trying to watch my weight."
- Occurs in not one but two episodes of Sons of Butcher. In the first one, Ricky orders most of the greasy spoon diner's menu, deep fried (even the friend chicken!), but adds a diet coke to watch his weight. The other time, he orders a very processed cheese-heavy meal from a fast food restaurant with regular cokes. But when Doug points out the fat contents, Ricky agrees... and switches his cokes to diet.
- An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures has one when Plucky finds a bottle from a wave:
Hamton: Gee, Plucky, nice trick! Order me a hamburger, onion rings, and a double shake....