When Harry is looking into the Pensieve, he sees a modified memory of Horace Slughorn. Tom Riddle was visiting Slughorn and provided some snacks for him. (IIRC, it was candied pineapple, which was one of Slughorn's favorites.) A little later after the other students leave, Tom starts asking about Horcruxes. I don't recall J K Rowling saying directly that Tom set up Slughorn to answer any question he wanted, but I could imagine young Tom improving the odds of getting what he wanted by slipping a little truth serum into the food.

Why would Slughorn eat food provided by somebody else?

Somebody could slip anything into the food. Not just a little truth serum. Or poison. Or a love potion. Or a nip of polyjuice. Or Gandalf only knows what else.

We know some people only eat food they prepared (e.g. - Mad Eye Moody), and that Slughorn was a cautious man, so you think he'd wouldn't take a bite out of any food anybody else provided.

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    There's a difference between being cautious about home security, and being paranoid. Why wouldn't Slughorn eat a present given to him by one of his favourite students? I don't recall that he has reason to fear Tom at this stage? Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 8:08
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    Did he really eat the candied pineapple? For all I know, he just accepted it and possibly regifted it later.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 8:09
  • @b_jonas I don't recall if ate it or not. It's been a few years since I read the stories. Maybe somebody could post a snippet from the story to clarify.
    – RichS
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 8:13
  • @TheGiantofLannister That's probably the safest explanation. Slughorn had no reason to fear Tom yet.
    – RichS
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 8:15
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    Also, why would Riddle want to poison Slughorn? Truth serum (Veritaserum) maybe. But considering Riddle had the charm and skill to needle all the information he wanted out of Slughorn anyway, there would be no need to for slip any Veritaserum into Slughorn's food. As to love potion Riddle doesn't love anyone or understand the emotion (which is what led to his downfall). Slipping anyone polyjuice potion without their knowledge just makes no sense. Polyjuice is used to change one's appearance to match someone else's. How would slipping some polyjuice into someone's food/drink benefit anyone? Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 9:42

1 Answer 1


Because he had no reason not to.

Tom Riddle, at that time, was an excellent student, actually one of the brightest student Hogwarts has ever seen. He was definitely one of Slughorn favorite student (if not his favorite). Why would a professor not eat anything offered by, say, Hermione Granger ? Tom Riddle's reputation was certainly close to Hermione's.

I'd like to add that, because they are living together 24/7, it must be that professors and students of Hogwarts grow a stronger relationship than just student/professor, and this is definitely more true about Slughorn and his club.

So we can conclude that Slughorn trusted Tom Riddle. At that time at least.

Plus, as @b_jonas notes in the comments, we don't see Slughorn actually eating the snacks. Maybe he double checked them before eating them. But that's only speculation.

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    To which we can add that any student caught poisoning a teacher would've been in very deep trouble indeed. Not only did Riddle not have a motive for attacking Slughorn, nor Slughorn any reason to suspect Riddle, but the fallout from any attack may well have resulted in Riddle's expulsion. And since he had such a good reputation and Hogwarts was the closest thing to home he had that would be the last thing Riddle would want. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 10:35
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    @b_jonas he actually is seen eating them, quotes "His little feet resting upon a velvet pouffe, he was sitting well back in a comfortable winged armchair, one hand grasping a small glass of wine, the other searching through a box of crystallised pineapple."-- "said Slughorn wagging a reproving, sugar-covered finger at Riddle,"--"and your careful flattery of the people who matter – thank you for the pineapple, by the way, you’re quite right, it is my favourite –’" note his sugar covered fingers from eating and digging around in the box.
    – Himarm
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 13:07
  • it was also not the first, or last time that slughorn got/ate pineapples from tom "I confidently expect you to rise to Minister for Magic within twenty years. Fifteen, if you keep sending me pine- apple. I have excellent contacts at the Ministry.’"
    – Himarm
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 13:09

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