Cannibal Toad Is Nintendo's Darkest Mario Theory
Cannibal Toad isn't real, Cannibal Toad can't eat you. No, he only has a taste for the flesh of other Toads. Much like we used to refer to Grogu as Baby Yoda because Yoda(s) doesn't have an actual species, other versions of Mario's cheerful sidekick are known as Toads.
The Mario games aren't exactly known for food. Apart from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! telling us spaghetti is Mario and Luigi's favourite dish or Super Mario 64 showing that portly plumber's love of Peach's cake, we're usually too busy saving the Mushroom Kingdom to stop for lunch. Not that anyone has ever really asked, but what do Toads eat?
Do We Have Cannibal Toads In Mario?
Over on Reddit, u/Lucius-Aurelianus asked whether Toads are cannibals. Sharing a screenshot from the Paper Mario series, there's a female Toad has a recipe for "Fried Shroom" - sorry, we didn't realise this was Hannibal. The OP goes into great detail to try and defend their post, saying that Toads bleed blood, produce spores that can grow into mushrooms, and that their adorable caps are actually part of their heads.
They go on to write, "All this combined would suggest, not only that toads are at minimum fungi hybrid but also that the consumption of mushrooms for them would be akin to canabalism, or at the very least the equivalent of humans consuming primate. Anyone want to weigh in?" And boy did you weigh in!
Others went on to trash the theory with their own rebuttals. One pointed out that Mario Strikers showed Toads with skeletons and added: "Yes, it's true that toad's caps can create spores that make mushrooms, but those mushrooms are never shown to be sentient in any way, also, they don't look like Mushrooms." Another added: "Mushrooms eating other Mushrooms is like humans (mammals) eating pigs, cows or sheep (also mammals). Also Toads are humans (or at least humanoid), the mushroom is just symbiotically linked to the toad."
What Other Dark Mario Theories Are There?
The various bits of expanded Mario canon gave us the always-shocking reveal that Toad's mushroom-esque head is actually just a hat he uses to keep his bald head warm. Closing the book on the issue, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Producer Koichi Hayashida told GameSpot Toads are NOT mushrooms. In a 2014 interview, he discussed the idea of cannibalism and concluded that while they're mushroom-like, a Toad eating a mushroom isn't cannibalism.
If you want dark Toad theories though, there's a wild one that the villainous Shy Guys are just rogue Toads hiding behind a mask. Not dark enough for you? How about the Dead Space-inspired theory that Toads were humans who had their brains infected by parasitic creatures that took control? Someone took this one step further and claimed Peach was the origin of this invasion and enslaved humanity as her Toad servants. Suddenly, cannibalism seems pretty tame.