Be ready to get a stomach full of butterflies, people are wondering…What did The Very Hungry Caterpillar eat? We look at what they eat IRL and the life of Eric Carle who has recently passed away.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a children’s picture book, which is the brainchild of the late illustrator and writer, Eric Carle. It was first published on 3rd June 1969 and was later republished by Penguin.

After hearing news that the author of the iconic book passed away, fans want to know more about his work and whether or not The Very Hungry Caterpillar is inspired by what the creatures eat in real life.

So, what did The Very Hungry Caterpillar eat?

What did The Very Hungry Caterpillar eat?

  • In the children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar ate fruit and copious amounts of junk food.

The premise follows a newborn caterpillar who starts by looking for something to eat. Throughout the weekdays, the quantities of his food increase until he gets a stomach ache.

In a nutshell, or rather…cocoon. Here is a breakdown of what he eats:

  • Monday – One apple.
  • Tuesday – Two pears.
  • Wednesday – Three plums.
  • Thursday – Four Strawberries.
  • Friday – Five oranges.
  • Saturday – Chocolate cake, an ice-cream cone, a pickle a slice of swiss cheese, a slice of salami, a lollipop, cherry pie, sausage, cupcake, watermelon.
  • Sunday – One green leaf.

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By the weekend he starts eating more of what caterpillars actually eat which allow him to grow and flourish. The healthier he eats, the less his appetite. At the end of the book, he begins metamorphosing into a butterfly.

Why cheese and cake is a bad idea!

The reason cheese and cake is a bad idea isn’t due to lactose intolerance, it’s simply because they don’t have the capacity to break down and digest human foods. What would really happen if those foods were offered to a caterpillar is just that it simply wouldn’t eat it and if it did, it might turn into…grub.

Caterpillars are by nature, very ravenous creatures, so much so, that they even experience hanger when they don’t get their greens. What a caterpillar would more likely eat in real life would include everything found in nature. These would be things like flowers, grass, honeycomb, bark. However, there are the odd species that deviate from the norm and show carnivorous tendencies, these types such as the dun-bar eat other caterpillars and even ants!

So overall, no. A caterpillar in real life would not eat everything the one in the children’s book did. These food items were embellished to add an interesting spin for readers and listeners and to help children understand that healthy eating is better. The book has helped the American Academy of Paediatrics who sent the book to health providers who were campaigning for healthy eating in 2011.

Author Eric Carle passes away…

Author of the children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle passed away this month on 23rd May 2021 at the age of 91.

Carle was an American writer and illustrator, born on 25th June 1929 in New York, U.S. He was the son of Johanna Oelschlaeger and Erich W. Carle. He was taken to Germany at the age of 6. When he was young his father was a POW who returned home in the late ’40s and when he was young, Eric was conscripted as a line digger.

In hopes of a better life, he moved back to America in 1952 with little money in his pocket and started his career as a graphic designer. He created his iconic caterpillar title and released it in 1969.

He married Barbara Morrison in 1973, with whom he had two children, a son and a daughter. Though Morrison passed away in 2015. Carle passed away this month due to kidney failure, a month before his birthday.

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