Dusting Off: Throwing a Pie in Someone’s Face
Aaron Rodgers was blasted with a towel full of shaving cream during a postgame interview on Monday, marking the unfortunate migration of the practice from Major League Baseball to the National Football League. As we discussed a couple weeks ago, there’s no shortage of juvenile celebratory antics on professional playing fields these days.
We’re all for practical jokes, so long as they’re not cheap, bastardized versions of iconic pranks. And where we come from, a towel full of shaving cream is not a Boston cream pie. You’ll notice the difference the next time the latter is inextricably welded to your boss’s eye sockets.
Here now, for inspiration and guidance, are some great moments in pie-in-the-face history…
Anti-gay singer and religious zealot Anita Bryant takes a pie in the face during a news conference in 1977. Afterward, Newsweek columnist Gersh Kuntzman wrote that pieing “deserves to be one of the most celebrated traditions in our so-called culture.”
Jonathan May-Bowles pies Rupert Murdoch in July 2011 during a highly publicized testimony before a British parliamentary committee in connection with the News International phone hacking session. As activist David Horowitz said of the practice, “These attacks are sinister. The person who throws a pie is saying, ‘I hate you. I don’t want you to speak.’”
Who threw the first pie? Many credit the Three Stooges, thanks to this 1941 short “In the Sweet Pie and Pie.” In fact it was Mack Sennett who put the prank on the cinematic map with That Ragtime Band and A Noise from the Deep. “A mother never gets hit with a custard pie,” Sennett said, spelling out the etiquette. “Mothers-in-law, yes. But mothers? Never.”
The Great Race still boasts the largest pie fight in cinematic history, costing over $200,000 in 1965, with 4,000 pies and five days to shoot. But for our money, nothing beats The Great Pie Fight in Blazing Saddles…
- — C. Brian Smith