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enter image description here

So, why do the couple not want to eat the dessert? Is it because they know their suggestions were in fact terrible?

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    If it's any consolation, this comic strip makes me go 'huh?' as well, I don't get it, and I'm a native English speaker. I don't find it funny either, even when explained by others, above. My first thought was that the dessert had prawns in it, but that doesn't seem to be the case!
    – Jelila
    Jan 19 '18 at 9:40
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    Does this question have anything to to with the language? It's more situational and deals with restaurant etiquette. Also, some comics are bad for English learners because the jokes are often subtle to the point of a native speaker not understanding or just not funny so no one gets it.
    – JPhi1618
    Jan 19 '18 at 20:51
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    @JPhi1618: Much of the time when someone fails to understand humor in a foreign language, it's because the humor relies upon little linguistic quirks that native speakers would understand even if foreigners don't. I don't think that happens to be the case here, but see no way the original poster could have known that prior to asking the question.
    – supercat
    Jan 19 '18 at 23:23
  • @supercat: Additionally, understanding a language requires correctly placing each utterance into a cultural envelope. Language is always contextual.
    – Robusto
    Jan 20 '18 at 16:46
70

This is a three-panel drama.

  1. The setup: Blondie and Dagwood are getting a free dessert from the chef.

  2. The complication: Dagwood has made continuing suggestions in the past regarding the chef's shrimp scampi. The chef, like any professional, likely will resent the "advice" given by an outsider, especially if it is perceived as criticism of his product. Therefore, the free dessert is suspect and possibly dangerous.

  3. The resolution: Blondie and Dagwood decline the gift, fearing it may be likely to do them harm.

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    @Lambie lifehacker.com/5887579/… - it's a common bit of paranoia that if you annoy the kitchen staff they will taint your food.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 18 '18 at 15:21
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    @Lambie: You are entitled to your opinion, but the comic makes no sense unless they do.
    – Robusto
    Jan 18 '18 at 15:21
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    Note that the male character in this comic strip, Dagwood, is a notorious glutton who generally eats anything that is put in front of him. This, combined with the common cliche of "kitchen staff may tamper with your food if you annoy them" that @ColleenV referenced, makes it certain that he (and his wife) believe that the dessert is suspect. Otherwise he would eat it as usual. Jan 18 '18 at 15:56
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    Ok, I concede. :) How often do you get that around here?
    – Lambie
    Jan 18 '18 at 16:05
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    I think this is a good answer, but a suggestion to improve it: explain that when the waiter says "It's to thank you..." he is being sarcastic.
    – mathewb
    Jan 18 '18 at 17:16
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In the US, it is widely thought that complaining to the waiter and/or chef could upset them, and result in them spitting in your food (or doing something else gross, like serving old or dirty food):

I doubt it actually happens all that often (and if it does, I'm not sure I'd want to know), but it is a widely known trope.

In your comic, Dagwood and Blondie are initially happy to receive free desserts, but after the waiter's (possibly sarcastic) comment about their "suggestions" (complaints) about the shrimp scampi, they can't be certain that the sundaes would be good/safe to eat.

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When I read this one, I took it to be that Blondie and Dagwood are calling into question the quality of the sundaes, not that the kitchen staff is looking to take some sort of vengeful measure, but that they feel it will be of low quality, as they had to make suggestions to improve the chef's other recipe.

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    +1 although I think Robusto's answer is probably the intended thought process, this is a 100% plausible explanation. For a similar joke, look up a joke about engineering teachers sitting on a plane their students built.
    – Jeutnarg
    Jan 18 '18 at 22:11
  • Perhaps this is what the chef did with the shrimp scampi? (put it in the sundaes?)
    – BradC
    Jan 18 '18 at 22:48
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    It's plausible, but MUCH less so given that there's nothing to indicate they also refused to finish eating their entree (or that the ability to scoop ice cream is somehow related to the quality of the recipe for a shrimp dish). Jan 18 '18 at 22:59
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    Dagwood's facial expression and dialogue in the first panel appears to be positive. His attitude changing in the second panel doesn't make sense if it's due to something he was already aware of, such as the quality of the scampi. Jan 19 '18 at 19:37
  • But it's only the idea of potential vengeance that makes it funny. Jan 21 '18 at 10:07
-5

I don't think this is anything to do with the English language. The words are perfectly clear, however they don't make sense when put together like that.

The waiter's words are not obviously sarcastic.

Conceivably the couple made useful suggestions and the chef appreciated them. The "punch line" makes no sense to me. If the waiter had brought out a single pea on a plate, then it would make sense.

Why doesn't the couple want to eat the dessert in this comic strip?

There is nothing in the words to indicate that. It is a mystery. If you were highly paranoid, and thought that if you made suggestions for how to improve the meal, the chef would spit into your food and then offer you a free dessert, then maybe. But I think that is a long bow to draw.

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    To say "it is a mystery" after it's been thoroughly answered several times seems odd. Jan 19 '18 at 16:26
  • @maxathousand It remains a mystery to me and a number of other commenters. A plausible explanation has been proposed but without the script writers input or other in universe clues it remains just a plausible explanation.
    – KalleMP
    Jan 21 '18 at 15:35
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    @KalleMP That’s fair, but I think the subtleties might be cultural. As mentioned in other answers, there is a very common cliche in America that food service employees will taint your food if you’re not a pleasant customer. In America, offering criticism of a chef’s dish would likely not be taken well at a nice restaurant. This comic strip circulates in America, so I think these are the “in universe clues” that are necessary for this punchline. Jan 21 '18 at 17:55
  • @maxathousand I agree with the explanation but do not think it is sufficiently suported by the dialogue and pictures. Given the universe I can understand Blondie not wanting to eat it but fail to see why Dagwood would not, being that he does have a healthy appetite and is not the sharpest pencil. It would be rather funny if he was already tucking in when Blondie makes her reservations clear.
    – KalleMP
    Jan 21 '18 at 20:12

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