food pill n.

an edible item providing a person’s complete nutritional needs in compact form

Often regarded as something that has always been predicted as a futuristic development.

SF Encyclopedia


  • 1885 J. B. Hopkins A Strange Trip in Tinsley’s Magazine Dec. 510

    In Moonland the only food is pills. Every day the Official Feeders visit every house and every member of the household is put on the weighing machine. If the person is above the standard weight, he or she is left without foot until reduced to the lawful standard. If the person is below the standard weight, he or she is stuffed with pills…. The exceptions…are the President, the members of the Council, and the officials. They may be fat or thin; they do not swallow the food pills they prescribe for the people, but eat and drink what they like.

  • 1888 Scientific American 16 June 368/3 page image

    Perhaps the time will come when the art of extracting and condensing the active principle or essence of comestibles will be so advanced that one may be able to obtain in a small pellet as much refreshment and nourishment as he now obtains in a whole meal…. A person will carry a few food pills in his pocket, and when he grows hungry he will take one and swallow his whole meal at once. Perhaps.

  • 1896 G. Turner The Second Edition in Black Cat June 37 page image

    First, one fellow came in with an electric fly-killer, and then another with a bicycle sidewalk cleaner—sort of a snowsweeper—and another had a patent compressed food pill, and there were several hundred men with communications to the editor.

  • 1900 Newport Daily News 8 Dec. 8/5 page image

    Not until the time comes when people gather around the festal board and instead of the gross consumption of cooked viands swallow a food pill or a lozenge will the limits of possible reform have been reached.

  • [1919 L. F. Baum Magic of Oz xxi. 237 page image L. Frank Baum bibliography

    It so happened that Professor Wogglebug…carelessly invented a Square-Meal Tablet, which was no bigger than your little finger-nail but contained, in condensed form, the equal of a bowl of soup, a portion of fried fish, a roast, a salad and a dessert, all of which gave the same nourishment as a square meal.]

  • 1929 W. G. West The Last Man in Amazing Stories Feb. 1034/1 page image Wallace West bibliography

    At noon he swallowed some food pills and, tired by his morning’s exercise, went to sleep under a massive oak tree.

  • 1938 ‘R. Rocklynne’ Men & the Mirror in Astounding Science-Fiction July 86/1 page image Ross Rocklynne bibliography

    They ate in the strange manner necessitated by spacesuits. By buttons in a niche outside their suits they manipulated levers which reached into a complicated mechanism, pulling out food pills—tasteless things—and water, which they sucked through a tube.

  • 1950 W. Sheldon Country Beyond the Curve in Amazing Stories Oct. 87/2 page image Walt Sheldon bibliography

    Someone gave me a food pill and I took it automatically.

  • 1965 R. Smith Tripsych in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Mar. 67/1 page image Ron Smith bibliography

    Artificial food pills are what I’ve eaten all my life. They better not try to put no synthetic substitutes on the market now. I won’t have it.

  • 1981 W. Gibson Gernsback Continuum in T. Carr Universe 11 89 page image William Gibson bibliography

    ‘John…we’ve forgotten to take our food pills.’ She clicked two bright wafers from a thing on her belt and passed one to him.

  • 1995 F. Savage Cyberfate in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Sept. 126 page image Felicity Savage bibliography

    My stomach is literally concave. I’m losing flesh off my bones. I need a food pill.

  • 2015 C. Thompson Watch This Space 188 page image

    I thought we’d be living on food pills like you see in the movies, but if you tell rRego [sc. a robot] what you want to eat, he can produce it in a few minutes.


Research requirements

antedating 1885

Earliest cite

John Baker Hopkins, in Tinsley's Magazine

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1965 cite from a review by Fritz Leiber in F&SF.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1950 cite from Charles Recour's "Hydroponic Heaven".
Bill Mullins submitted an 1896 cite from Black Cat, and several other examples.

Last modified 2024-01-03 17:37:11
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.