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Pieing is the act of throwing a pie at a person. This can be a political action when the target is an authority figure, politician, or celebrity and can be used as a means of protesting against the target's political beliefs, or against a perceived flaw — eg. arrogance or hubris — in the target's character. Perpetrators generally regard the act as a form of ridicule to embarrass and humiliate the victim. In some U.S. states pieing may conform to definitions of battery, but not assault. Pieing and pie fights is a staple of slapstick comedy, and pie "tosses" are also common charity fundraising events.


The political act of pieing has its origins in the "pie in the face" gag from slapstick comedy, first popularized on film by movie director Mack Sennett around the year 1914 in his Keystone Cops silent movies. Throwing pies as a comedy staple came into its own in the Laurel & Hardy classic short film, "The Battle of the Century" (1927) which reportedly required the use of four thousand pies. Pie-throwing became a convention of early shorts made by the Three Stooges, and was also utilized by Charlie Chaplin, Bugs Bunny, Soupy Sales and Monty Python. The 1965 comedy, The Great Race, reputedly had the largest pie fight in cinematic history.

Political acts

The probable originator of pieing as a political act was Thomas King Forcade, the founder of High Times magazine. In 1970, Forcade pied Otto N. Larsen, the Chairman of the President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography; his action was called the first Yippie pieing. Aron Kay, also a Yippie, went on to take up Forcade's pieing tactics and pied singer and anti-gay rights activist Anita Bryant in Des Moines, Iowamarker, in 1977 (audio footage of the incident is included in the Chumbawamba song Just Desserts, a homage to the concept of pieing). Kay subsequently pied, among many others, William F. Buckley, G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, William Shatner and Andy Warhol. Kay retired in 1992 after pieing right-wing activist Randall Terry. Kay appears in cartoon form in a 2003 animated music video, "Death penalty for pot" by Benedict Arnold and The Traitors, where he and Dana Beal pie George W. Bush and former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (at 2 minutes and 33 seconds into the video).

Concerning Kay, an article in the San Francisco Examiner says: "He considers the Three Stooges, whom he began watching on TV as a kid, as the true fathers of pie-throwing."

Recently, the Belgianmarker anarchist and surrealist Noël Godin has gained a following for pieing figures whom he believes take themselves too seriously, such as filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard during the Cannes Film Festivalmarker. His favorite target was Bernard-Henri Lévy. Godin stated that the men he most desired to pie were Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Pope John Paul II . Godin's popularity has inspired many copycats.

A noted victim of pieing was Microsoft founder Bill Gates who was attacked in Belgium in 1998. A computer game was later released in which Gates' head pops up around the screen and the object is to "pie" as many of his heads as possible in the allocated time.

The anonymous Biotic Baking Brigade has pied or attempted to pie, among others, conservative pundits Ann Coulter and David Horowitz; Green Party politician Ralph Nader; and Fred Phelps, the controversial leader of the Westboro Baptist Church. Coulter has also been attacked by the "terrorist" group Al Pieda. The Canadianmarker group the Entartistes, founded by Rhinoceros Party of Canada founder François Gourd, has also pied many, including then-Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien. In 2003 in the city of Calgarymarker they pied Ralph Klein, the premier of the Canadian province of Albertamarker, saying in their press release: "Is it surprising to see Ralph Klein opposing the Kyoto Accord for the right of big corporations to pollute, the same corporations that finance his campaigns?"

"The pie gives power back to the people because so many feel powerless in the face of big politicians and industrialists", explained Pope-Tart (a pseudonym), a member of the Entartistes. Newsweek columnist Gersh Kuntzman wrote that pieing "deserves to be one of the most celebrated traditions in our so-called culture."

Sometimes pieing targets suffer the prank with good humor. Godard was very pleased at being pied; he intervened with the Cannes authorities on behalf of Noël Godin to prevent him from being arrested. By contrast, Bernard-Henri Lévy has on multiple occasions attacked Godin and his followers, and Ann Coulter pressed charges in 2005 when she narrowly evaded being pied at the University of Arizonamarker. Activist David Horowitz said of his pieing, "These attacks are sinister. The person who throws a pie is saying, ‘I hate you. I don't want you to speak.' I never saw it coming. And it took away my dignity. When you're lecturing, you're supposed to have an authority. But a pie turns it into a food fight." Anti-gay activist Anita Bryant, upon being pied, joked that at least it was a "fruit" pie, referring to the gay slur.


At charity fund raisers, a pie-toss event usually involves some well-known figure, generally a person either in a position of authority or fame, who is intended as the "victim". People attending the event pay for or bid on the opportunity to smoosh the volunteer victim in the face with a custard pie; throwing is generally not allowed anymore as the impact can cause injury, and the smoosh is usually in slow-motion and applied without great pressure. Although this takes the element of chance out of the event, it allows the opportunity to smear pie more thoroughly in the victim's face and potentially through their hair. This is a popular fund-raising event with schools and social or charitable organizations. The pie in question can include a variety of messy substances, usually whipped cream, custard, non-dairy dessert topping or simply shaving foam, placed in a pie tin or sometimes simply piled onto a paper plate.

One additional option is allowing the person who has purchased or won the opportunity to use the pie to also fill it, usually with a variety of extremely messy dessert toppings: chocolate, cherries, caramel sauce, strawberry sauce, etc. Plastic bags for the victim to protect their clothing are optional. Witnesses standing too close to the victim may be splattered.


In Major League Baseball, New York Yankees pitcher A. J. Burnett revived a tradition in 2009 of pieing teammates who drive in or score the winning run in a walk-off win – that is, a game that is won on a hit by the last batter. Burnett's "pies" are filled with either shaving cream or whipped cream. Burnett has pied Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, Nick Swisher, Robinson Canó (twice), Francisco Cervelli, Juan Miranda, Mark Teixeira, and most recently Jerry Hairston, Jr. Burnett usually pies the player while he is being interviewed on the field by a TV reporter.

See also



  1. "The Battle of the Century (1927)". Internet Movie Database.
  2. Take Sugar, Eggs, Beliefs . . . And Aim.By Thomas Vinciguerra. New York Times, December 10, 2000.
  3. Tom Forcade: Unsung Hero of the Counter-culture By Bill Weinberg. World War 4 Report.
  4. "Pie-Faced: Why throwing a pie at someone who deserves it is one of the most celebrated traditions in our so-called culture". By Gersh Kuntzman. Newsweek, April 25, 2005.
  5. "Death penalty for pot". Kay pieing George Bush and John Ashcroft in an "animated music video (2003) by northern California artist/animator Brad Frost, of the song "Death Penalty For Pot", by the band Benedict Arnold & The Traitors." on MySpace on You Tube
  6. "A Long Career of Pitching Pastries". By Rachel Gordon. San Francisco Examiner. November 12, 1998.
  8. "The Art of Pieing. Nothing cuts through the veneer of the powerful like a banana cream". By Tooker Gomberg. Now (Toronto). July 17-23, 2003.
  9. "Pied Snipers". By Andrew Duffy. Southam News. January 31, 1999.
  11. The pie thrower would likely agree that this is exactly the point of the attack.
  12. Pie Is Again Served at Yankee Stadium - New York Magazine

Further reading

  • Noël Godin (1989) Anthologie de la subversion carabinée. Éditions L'Âge d'Homme; ISBN 2-8251-0715-8.
  • Noël Godin (1995) Crème et châtiment: Mémoire d'un entarteur. Éditions Albin Michel; ISBN 2-226-07824-X.
  • Noël Godin (2005) Entartons, entartons les pompeux cornichons! Flammarion; ISBN 2-08-068546-5.
  • Agent Apple. Pie Any Means Necessary: The Biotic Baking Brigade Cookbook. Edinburgh: AK Press, 2004. ISBN 9781902593883

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