During a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles, NYPD officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) attempts to save the party guests who have been taken hostage by German terrorists.
Released in 1988, Die Hard is an exhilarating action blockbuster that also happens to be my all-time favorite Christmas film, which I must watch every December (in addition to probably watching it at least once earlier in the year). While the film is not by any means overflowing with food moments, it does contain a few notable food and drink appearances, and seeing as the first two holiday films this month covered the family and romance genres, I thought it was about time to include a rated-R action film.
The first notable appearance of food or drink in Die Hard comes when John firsts arrives to the Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza. A waiter with a tray of drinks asks John, “Champagne, sir?,” to which John replies, “Yeah, thanks,” taking a glass off the tray. Based on the waiter’s question we are to believe the drink is champagne; however, the color of the alcoholic beverage looks more like it should be punch instead of champagne. Either way, John does not care for the taste since upon taking a sip of the drink, he puts it back on the tray of the next passing waiter. During this scene there are drinks visible in the hands of the party guests, as well as the suggestion of food; however, nothing is clearly discernible. Shortly after returning his drink to a tray, John meets Takagi (James Shigeta) who asks him, “Can I get you anything? Food? Cake? Some watered-down champagne?,” to which John replies, “No, thank you, I’m fine.”
The next notable appearance of food or drink comes when Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) is talking to the hostages while eating what looks like a sandwich. The camera is positioned amongst the crowd of people, far enough away where it makes it difficult to see exactly what Hans is eating, but he is definitely eating something nonetheless!
Arguably the most notable food moment in the film comes when Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) is stocking up on Twinkies in the Hostess Cakes section of what looks like a 24 hour gas station convenience store. When the store clerk looks at Al’s lot of Twinkies, he remarks, “I thought you guys just ate donuts.,” to which Al replies, “They’re for my wife.” The store clerk responds, “Yeah,” clearly unconvinced, which prompts Al to add, “She’s pregnant.,” but this addition does nothing to sway the disbelieving clerk.
Later in the film, John while eating a Twinkie offscreen, he radios to Al saying, “Oh, God. Uhhh.,” to which Al responds, “Roy? Roy, you all right?” John then says, “Just trying to fire down a 1,000-year-old Twinkie. What do they put in these things anyway?,” to which Al replies, “Sugar, enriched flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, polysorbate 60 and yellow dye number five. Just everything a growing boy needs.”
Following the appearance of Twinkies, the next food moments happens when one of the terrorists is setting up for defense by the small concessions stand in the Nakatomi Plaza lobby. The terrorist puts his gun and ammunition down on a small glass case filled with various types of snacks including Raisinets, Planters Peanuts, Hershey bars, Crunch bars and Mars bars, as well as Big Red, Juicy Fruit, and Doublemint gum. Just before the camera cuts away, we see the terrorist bend down and stick his hand into the the display case in an attempt to retrieve one of the candy bars.
About a minute later we cut to the same terrorist who is now eating a Crunch bar while waiting to open fire on the approaching tactical officers. Then, pretty much exactly an additional minute later, we see him again, now with a Mars bar, which he takes a big bite of before throwing it down in preparation for gunfire.
In addition to the food and drink moments mentioned above, there are a couple of brief supplementary beverage moments in the film worth noting. The first is when Argyle (De’voreaux White) fixes himself a drink from the limo bar, and the second is when a terrorist pours Ellis (Hart Bochner) a glass of Coca-Cola while Ellis is radioing John.
I would also like to add that there are several mentions of food and drink in Die Hard‘s dialogue. The first is when Ellis asks Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), “What about dinner tonight, huh?,” to which Holly says, “Harry, it’s Christmas Eve. Families, stockings, chestnuts, Rudolph and Frosty. Any of these things ring a bell?” Ellis then responds, “Actually, I was thinking more of mulled wine, a nice aged brie, and a roaring fireplace. You know what I’m saying?” Holly sighs and instead of replying to Ellis, says to her assistant, “Ginny, it’s 5:40. Go join the party. Have some champagne. You’re making me feel like Ebenezer Scrooge.” Ginny, who is pregnant, responds, “Thanks a lot, Ms. Gennaro. Do you think the baby can handle a little sip?,” to which Holly replies, “That baby’s ready to tend bar.”
The next mention of food in the dialogue comes when John is trying to radio for help and the emergency operator states, “Attention, whoever you are, this channel is reserved for emergency calls only.,” prompting John to respond, “No fucking shit, lady! Do I sound like I’m ordering a pizza?”
Lastly, when Al’s police car is being shot at, he exclaims over the radio, “I’m at Nakatomi Plaza. They’re turning my car into Swiss cheese!”
For my vegan Die Hard food pairing, I decided to create my own menu for a Nakatomi Christmas party, and seeing as the Nakatomi Corporation is a Japanese company, I went with a selection of mostly Asian-inspired hors d’oeuvres including spring rolls, crispy vegetable pouches, gyoza, and the enduring party favorite: crab cakes, as well as included a teriyaki dipping sauce.
Then to round out the menu, I dusted off my Twinkie pan (last used here) and made some vegan Twinkies for dessert, as well as had glasses of both champagne and almond nog (complete with candy cane garnish) because it’s a Christmas party after all.
Finally, for the tablecloth, I went with a fabric that I felt embodied late ‘80s Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza.
And that does it for this week! Make sure to check back at the beginning of next week for the final holiday film feature for December here on food & a film. Thanks so much for reading!