Pica Substances

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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While there are many craved nonfood items, particular terms are used for the most common types of cravings. These terms combine the Greek names of specific items, such as geo (earth), amylon (starch), and pagos (hard objects, in this case ice), with phagein (to eat), thus yielding geophagy, amylophagy, and pagophagy. However, not just any type of earth (or starch or ice) will do. Just as we now know that the magpie’s appetite is not indiscriminate—those nonfood items in their beaks are housing materials, not lunch—pica cravings are also very specific.