The Cultural Evolution of Pie in the Face or Pieing

- The Cultural Evolution of Pie in the Face, by Rosie2010 -
- The Cultural Evolution of Pie in the Face, by Rosie2010 -

Some records show that throwing a pie in the face or pieing (pie-ing) started in the 1890s as a vaudeville slapstick routine. William Hammerstein, father of the Tony and Academy award winning American writer, theatrical producer and director Oscar Hammerstein II, produced vaudeville shows that included someone getting a pie in the face. William Hammerstein was thought to have invented the pie-in-the-face routine.

However, according to HarperCollins English Dictionary, Canadian Edition, it was Canadian Thomas "Doc" Kelley who invented the pie-in-the-face slapstick routine in his travelling medicine show in 1889. It seems that Kelly witnessed an angry cook throwing a piece of pie at a stable boy, and made the onlookers laugh. The pie hit the boy on the shirt, but Kelly thought that a pie in the face would be funnier. Kelly was right; his audience found it hilarious.

Soon the pie-in-the-face routine found its way to the movies starting with Ben Turpin getting a pie in the face in the silent film Mr. Flip (1909).

On television, throwing pie in the face can be traced back in one of the first episodes of The Little Rascals in 1923.

Pie in the face had become the trademark of Soupy Sales, an American comedian and TV/radio personality, whose comedy show, Lunch with Soupy Sales (1953-1961) frequently ended with Sales receiving a pie in the face.

Throwing pie in the face scenes also appeared in Loony Tunes cartoon shows such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

Pie in the face or pieing has evolved in our culture from slapstick comedy routine, to making social or political statements. Politicians are favorite targets of pieing, but so are activists, actors and even royalties. The very rich and powerful are also major targets for pieing, such as the recent pieing of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

The first recorded pie in the face or pieing incident occurred on October 15, 1898, when the defendant threw a pumpkin pie at the plaintiff, and hit him in the face with the pie.

Pie in the face has also found its way in sports as part of a win or a milestone celebration.

Pie in the face has also evolved into pieing for a good cause. Pie in the Face is now being used in fund-raising for schools, as well as social and charitable organizations.

A pie in the face can be funny if it is part of a comedy routine. It can be fun if it is all in jest. It can be sad because a good pie is wasted. It can be humiliating for the pie-ee (the victim). It can be triumphant for the pie-or (the culprit). Or, it can be disastrous if the pie-or misses, and then gets caught and gets charged (a triple whammy), as again in the case of Rupert Murdoch pieing incident.

Pie in the face or pieing will continue to be a part of our culture for generations to come. Why? Because it is funny. Because it is fun. Because it is arguably the lesser of two evils - pieing or shooting (plus carrying a gun is illegal in some countries, but carrying a pie is completely legit). And because there is always someone deserving of a pie in the face.



Pie in the Face in the Movies

In 1909, the first pie in the face scene appeared in the silent film Mr. Flip (1909) starring Ben Turpin. It seemed that the movie audience found throwing a pie in someone's face hilarious, so the pie in the face slapstick gag in the movies, was born.


Ben Turpin gets pie in the face in "Mr. Flip."
Ben Turpin gets pie in the face in "Mr. Flip."


The First Pie Throwing in the Movies

In 1913, the first pie throwing scene appeared in A Noise from the Deep (1913) starring Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle. Normand threw a pie at Arbuckle.


Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle in "A Noise from the Deep" (1913)
Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle in "A Noise from the Deep" (1913)


Pie in the Face turned into Pie Fight

Soon the pie in the face scenes in films became full-fledged pie fights, starting with someone accidentally or purposely gets hit with a pie in the face and a pie fight would erupt.


The First Pie Fight in the Movies

The first pie fight in the movies appeared in the movie Behind the Screen (1916) starring Charlie Chaplin.


Charlie Chaplin in "Behind the Screen"
Charlie Chaplin in "Behind the Screen"


The First Pie Fight on Television

In 1923, in one of The Little Rascals television series episodes, one of the funniest pie fight scene occurred.



The Best Pie Fight Film

The first notable and arguably the best pie fight film, using 3,000 pies, is The Battle of the Century (1927) starring Stan Lauren and Oliver Hardy.



The Largest Pie Fight in Cinematic History

In 1965, in the movie The Great Race (1965) starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, the pie fight scene is known in the film industry as the largest pie fight in cinematic history. The pie fight scene cost $200,000, used up 4,000 pies, a giant cake, and took five days to shoot.



The First Political Pie in the Face

In 1970, pie in the face turned political when Tom Forcade, the founder of the pro-Pot High Times magazine, pied Otto N. Larsen, head of the U.S. Commission on Obscenity and Pornography.


Tom Forcade pied Otto N. Larsen in 1970.
Tom Forcade pied Otto N. Larsen in 1970.


Most Notable Pie-or - Aron Kay a.k.a The Pie Man

Following in Forcade's pieing footsteps, U.S. left-wing activist Aron Kay has been dubbed "The Pieman" for a whole series of pie in the face attacks stretching across almost three decades. Kay hurled his thoughtfully baked confections into the faces of such dignitaries as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (seen in photo below), New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, former CIA chief William Colby, and California Gov. Jerry Brown.


Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan got pied by Aron Kay.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan got pied by Aron Kay.


Most Famous/Infamous Activist Pie in the Face

In 1977, Thom Higgins, a follower of Aron Kay, pied singer and anti-gay rights activist Anita Bryant in Des Moines, Iowa.



Bill Gates Pied for "lacking a sense of humor"

In 1998, during his trip to Brussels, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates got cream-pied by the notorious Belgian pie-or Noel Godin, a.k.a. "Georges Le Gloupier" and his followers. Godin reportedly claimed that his goal was to "entarte" as many people like Gates - people he feels are particularly self-important and lacking a sense of humor.



Calvin Klein Pied for "being at the right place at the wrong time"

In 2001, Fashion designer Calvin Klein got hit, by accident, with a tofu cream pie by fur protestors who were aiming for designer Karl Lagerfeld at the 20th-annual American Fashion Awards, held at New York's Lincoln Center. Klein was walking the red carpet with Lagerfeld at the time.


Calvin Klein got pied.
Calvin Klein got pied.


Even a King Gets Pied

In 2001, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was hit in the face with a strawberry tart thrown by a 16-year-old Swedish boy.


King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden got pied.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden got pied.


Sylvester Stallone Pied for "needing public embarrassment"

In 1998, Sylvester Stallone got a pie in the face during the grand opening of a Planet Hollywood restaurant in Montreal. The attacker was Les Entartistes, a Canadian satirical political group whose members throw cream pies at political and cultural figures whom the group deems to be in need of public embarrassment.


Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa (2006)
Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa (2006)


Robert Pattinson Pied in Toronto

On June 28, 2011, Robert Pattinson got hit in the face with a pie in Toronto, Canada. Not to worry, Twilight fans, it was all for his new movie, Cosmopolis, that was being filmed in Toronto.


Robert Pattinson pied!
Robert Pattinson pied!


More Political Pie in the Face in 2010

On January 25, 2010, Canadian federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea got a pie in face while delivering a speech at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, Ontario. A woman stood up in the front row and pushed a shaving cream pie squarely into Shea's face saying "Shame on you Gail Shea." The animal-rights group PETA claimed it was responsible for the incident as part of their campaign "to stop the government ill-advised sanction of the slaughter of seals."



On March 14, 2010, Lierre Keith, an American writer, radical feminist, food activist, radical environmentalist, author of The Vegetarian Myth, and who has called vegans ignorant and childlike, got pied while speaking her mind at the annual San Francisco Anarchist Book Fair in 2010. While Keith was speaking at the podium, three men wielding cayenne-laced pies came out from behind and attacked. And adding insult to injury, an audience member tossed a banana peel in her direction for good measure.



Pie in the Face for Fun

Not all pie in the face are slapstick gags or political attacks. Some are done just for fun.

In 2006, in "The Late Show with David Letterman," Emma Thompson hit Letterman with a pie in the face. Thompson was promoting her film "Nanny McPhee," in which her character throws a pie at another character. Letterman produced a cream pie and challenged her to throw it at his face. Of course, she did. This set off a chain reaction of pie-throwing that becomes one of the funniest pie in the face on television.



On July 28, 2010, at the end of Rachael Ray Show "Play with Your Food" episode, Rachel Ray had the lucky (or unlucky) staff member, who got to eat the food of the day, take a pie in the face.

Here's a funny take on Rachael Ray's pie in the face.



Some pie in the face are happy ones.


Celebratory Pie in the Face

In 2009, Major League Baseball, New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett started a tradition of pieing his teammates who drive in or score the winning run in a walk-off win (A walk-off win is a game won on a hit by the last batter.)

Soon, the pieing tradition in baseball has extended beyond game-winning hits to any outstanding performance.

Rookie Stephen Strasburg, a right-handed pitcher for the Washington Nationals, was pied by teammate John Lannan after his historic debut when he struck out 14 Pittsburgh batters.

On April 7, 2010, Toronto Blue Jays J.P. Arencibia received a celebratory pie in the face after hitting a pair of Opening Night home runs (to go with the two he hit in his major league debut last August) and drove in five runs, against the defending AL Central champion Twins

On July 26, 2010, Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays was pied by Evan Longoria after Garza pitched the first no-hitter in Rays history.

On July 26, 2010, the Florida Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan injured himself while pieing teammate Wes Helms after Helms's single won the game in the bottom of the 11th inning.

First Pie in the Face in 2011

The first pie in the face for 2011 was honorably given to Yankees Nick Swisher for giving the Yankees a dramatic 6-5 win against the Orioles with a walk-off sacrifice fly on the 10th inning April 14, 2011 game.


Some of Baseball Celebratory Pie in the Face

On May 26, 2009, Yankees Alex Rodriguez hit a walk off homer in the 11th inning today to defeat the Minnesota Twins.  He got pied by teammate A.J. Burnett.
On May 26, 2009, Yankees Alex Rodriguez hit a walk off homer in the 11th inning today to defeat the Minnesota Twins. He got pied by teammate A.J. Burnett.
On August 7, 2010, Toronto Blue Jays J.P. Arencibia gets a celebratory shaving cream pie in the face after opening night Blue Jays win.  It was Arencibia's first major league appearance.
On August 7, 2010, Toronto Blue Jays J.P. Arencibia gets a celebratory shaving cream pie in the face after opening night Blue Jays win. It was Arencibia's first major league appearance.
On April 14, 2011, Yankees Nick Swisher delivered the game-winner with a sacrifice fly in the 10th, stunning the Orioles with a dramatic 6-5 win.  He got a celebratory pie in the face.
On April 14, 2011, Yankees Nick Swisher delivered the game-winner with a sacrifice fly in the 10th, stunning the Orioles with a dramatic 6-5 win. He got a celebratory pie in the face.


Some pie in the face are for a good cause.



Pie in the Face for Charity

Pie in the Face has further evolved from slapstick gag in the movies and television and political attacks to "get one or give one for a good cause."

Pie in the Face is now a popular fund-raising event with schools and social or charitable organizations.

In World Vision's 12 Fun Ways to Fundraise, guess what the No. 5 way is. You got it - Pie in the Face for a Cause.

On November 2010, Cheryl Cole, the then most hated judge among voters in Britain's The X Factor, was pied in the face for charity during the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards in London.



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And the pieing continues...


Recent Political Pieing (as at August 16, 2011)

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch recently became the latest in a long line of prominent figures who have had a pie thrown at them.

On July 19, 2011, as Rupert Murdoch testified before Britain's Parliament about the News Corp phone-hacking scandal, Murdoch got hit with a pie of shaving cream, courtesy of self-proclaimed comedian and activist Jonnie Marbles. The pie missed Rupert Murdoch's face and landed on his shoulder - thanks, or in Marbles case - no thanks, to the quick reaction from his wife Wendi Deng, who leapt up to defend her husband, slapped the assailant on his head, grabbed the plate used in the attack and hit the assailant. A classic case of the pie-or becoming the pie-ee, or just an unfortunate missed opportunity... darn!

Guess who gets pied next?


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Comments 26 comments

Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Akkemay, I'm so sorry for the late reply. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my pie in the face hub. Yes, it could be fun to join a pie in the face fight or play, but I have never had the chance myself.

Thanks so much for leaving me a comment. How's the weather in Holland? We're having wet snow here in Toronto. Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie


akkemay 4 years ago

Hi Rosie. It was fun reading this. I always liked the "pie in the face"thing and to be honest I would like to get involved in a piefight! To throw pies seems like fun but i always also wanted a pie in my face myselve. But I never dared. Looks fun to me. Did you ever had a pie in your face? With love from Holland, Akkemay


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Kenneth, sorry for the late reply. Thanks for dropping by and I'm glad you enjoyed reading my pie in the face hub. I hope you are feeling better today, my dear friend. Even in pain, you are still thinking of your charity work. You are my hero. Take care.

Have a nice day,

Rosie


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

@Dave Pearce, thanks for your input. This very interesting fact is included in a 64-page insert compiled for the HarperCollins English Dictionary, Canadian Editions. Correction duly noted.. thanks again.


Dave Pearce 4 years ago

Thomas "Doc" Kelley, Canada's King of the Travelling Medicine Shows, is generally credited with inventing the pie in the face in 1889. Kelley would have toured on the same routes as vaudeville...from which it would have spread very quickly.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Dearest Rosie...I mean it. I LOVED this hub. I wish I could organize my own Pie Throwing Event locally to raise money for some established charity...maybe a pie-eating contest...maybe both and give the money to American Cancer Society, Ive lost six loved ones to this hated beast, or maybe St. Jude's Children's Hospital...what a great idea that YOU game me, Rosie. Keep up the great work, my FRIEND. Kenneth


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Ken, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my pie in the face hub. I had so much fun researching and writing about pieing. Thanks for the vote up. Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hi, Rosie2010! I have never, in my life, read and enjoyed, such an in-depth hub or story such as this one. I am in awe of your research, writing, and graphics. Gladly Voted UP and away! Wonderful job. Kenneth Avery, your friend, fan, and follower!!!1


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya thelyricwriter, thanks for dropping by. I just had a blast researching and then writing about pie in the face. And yes, pieing is now very popular in sports and the fun part of getting pied in sports, is that it means you did something outstanding. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my hub, and thanks for voting up. Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

Rosie, this was such a fun article with so much information. A lot of great videos as well. I always wondered what the roots were. I follow sports and the shaving cream pie has been becoming steadily popular. I enjoyed it and votes up.


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Feenix, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my pie in the face hub, and found it informative. Thanks so much.. The HubPages Hall of Fame? That's just about the best thing someone had said about a hub of mine. I'm loving it! :) Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Lucy, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you learned something new about pieing.. it is just a fun topic to write about. lol Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie


feenix profile image

feenix 5 years ago

Hello, Rosie2010,

This is one of the most entertaining and informative hubs I have read on HupPages. And I want to thank you for taking the time to put together and publish this wonderful work of art. It deserves to be in "The HubPages Hall of Fame."


lucymcbees 5 years ago

I learned something new with this hub. I appreciate your effort and time. Great hub.

Cheers Lucy.


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Zabbella, thanks for dropping by. Oh there's a long list of politicians who had been pied, mostly by Aron Kay and his followers. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my pie in the face hub. Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie


Zabbella profile image

Zabbella 5 years ago from NJ-USA

I learned something new with this hub...never knew it was used in political settings. I thought it was only for comedies and t.v. cool stuff!


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Ray, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my pie in the face hub. Thank you so much. Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie


aware profile image

aware 5 years ago from West Palm Beach Florida.

Nice . Funny stuff.

Great Work.

ray


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings, me Lord. I'm honoured that me Lord graced my hub with his presence. lol I'm glad you enjoyed my pie in the face hub, me Lord.

Have a nice day,

Rosie


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Danette, thanks for dropping by and noticing my Rachael Ray video. I got interested in doing videos, one of the reason I was away on forums the past few days.. but I'm back now. I am finding making videos is soooo time consuming. lol

Have a nice day,

Rosie


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 5 years ago

pieingpissfully great hub!

Hillarious! and a great reason to do it thru the years. Keep the Hubbing Pieing Rosie!

LORD


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

Hi Rosie, haven't seen you on the forums (Sandpit) much lately so it's good to see you! I've never been pied and don't think I would want to be. I think being caught so off guard like that would be unpleasant. Well, I guess that would be the attack type that the others mentioned- not good. But it would be ok in fun. Took me a minute to realize that was you in the garden and narrating the Rachel Ray video. LOL!


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Dexter, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my pie in the face hub. I, too, agree that pieing as an attack is not funny nor cool. But.. but, Dexter, some of those who got pied deserved it, IMHO anyway. Just sayin' :D

Thank you so much for the vote up.

Have a nice day,

Rosie


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya Will, thanks for dropping by and I'm glad you enjoyed reading about pies. lol No, not funny at all if it is an attack, especially those pieing for no "valid reason" whatsoever.. but "valid reason" is subjective, isn't it?

Have a nice day,

Rosie


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Great, fun hub! I agree with Will. I actually wouldn't mind getting pied. I like a good joke. But it is not cool when it's an attack.

Voted up, up and away!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

It's funny when it's done in fun, but not funny when it's an attack.

Great Hub, Rosie!

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