Rice and Pimples

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“So when I was little, I was really bad about finishing the food that I ate. […] My mother used to try to convince me to finish my food by telling me that for each grain of rice that I didn’t finish and left in my bowl, I would later on get a pimple and hopefully that’s not true.”

My informant’s mother is from Taiwan. Interestingly, I’ve heard the exact same thing from my own mom, who is also from Taiwan. Its possible that this way of getting kids to finish their rice may have originated somewhere in Taiwan. The country has had a history of food shortages among the lower classes, especially during the Japanese occupation. This piece of folklore may have originated as a way for the older generation who have suffered through food shortages to convince their youngsters (who haven’t experienced famine and don’t understand the importance of eating) by appealing to their vanity.