For the record, the Pie Lady thinks pie tossing is a waste of great pastry.
No one knows for sure when it started, but people have been putting pies in the faces of other people for a long time. Maybe since the first pies were baked there have been disgruntled folks around who decided to toss the creations at their enemies.
At least by the 1920s, there were vaudeville acts who specialized in pie tossing. The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and the Three Stooges built entire routines around the idea. By the 1960s, as civil unrest became more prominent in the United States in reaction to the war in Vietnam and Civil Rights, there were people shoving pies in the faces of their targets.
Here are five of the more famous pie tossing incidents.
1. G. Gordon Liddy
Often Conservatives have been targets of pie-throwing (though see #5 for a notable exception). Liddy was one of many who were targeted by Vietnam-era activist Aron Kay in the 1970s. The former Watergate burglar was nailed at a press conference in 1977. Liddy didn’t take too kindly to the pastry assault – he pounced on Kay. Liddy later said, “He’s lucky we weren’t in a dark alley.”
2. Calvin Klein
How does a tofu creme pie look with a designer t-shirt and jeans? Famed designer Calvin Klein should know after he was nailed with a pie at a fashion awards show in 2011. Klein was targeted by anti-fur activists. The fashion icon enjoyed the rest of his evening, albeit with morsels of tofu on his outfit.
3. Bill Gates
This was one of the most celebrated pieing incidents perpetrated by famous “pie thrower” Noel Godin, a Belgian writer, critic, and actor. He apparently targeted Gates because the software billionaire was getting too “haughty”. As Gates entered a meeting hosted by Flemish Minister and President Van den Brande in Brussels, Godin stepped forward and tossed creme pies in his face. When he was finished, Godin reportedly said, “My work is finished here.” Gates was startled but tried to react casually later, saying, “The pie just wasn’t all that good.” Godin claims his goal has long been to “entarte” as many people like Gates as possible – people he feels are particularly self-important and lacking a sense of humor. Since 1969, when Godin planted a cream pie on the face of the French novelist Marguerite Duras, he has cream-pied dozens more, including choreographer Maurice Béjart, France’s best-known television anchorman Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and film maker Jean-Luc Godard.
4. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden
Even royalty can be targets! While visiting a bird sanctuary in his native Sweden in 2001, King Carl and his entourage were surprised when a 16-year old boy squeezed through the crowd and tossed a strawberry tart in the monarch’s face. It was a direct hit. The King wasn’t hurt, but certainly embarrassed. Adding to the embarrassment, the King’s wife, Queen Silvia, helped wrestle the boy to the ground. The King did not comment on the quality of the pie.
5. U.S. Senator Carl Levin
The longtime Senator from Michigan was in his home state meeting citizens in Big Rapids in 2010 at a popular deli, when a woman approached and pelted him with a dutch apple pie. “She took the pie in both hands and slammed it in his face,” said an onlooker. According to authorities, the incident was an anti-war demonstration for the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Levin was fine, and the woman was quickly whisked away in a police car. “Amazingly, he was quite gentlemanly and kept his composure and was fairly good nattered about it,” said the owner of the deli.