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Few things in life make me happier than a pie in the face, so I created this page to gather all my thoughts on pieings in one place. Here I go into things like why I love pieings and being pied, my thoughts on how to best deliver and receive a pie in the face, and stuff like that.
For as long as I can remember, I thought a pie in the face was the coolest, funniest, funnest-looking thing that could happen to a person. I don't remember a time when I didn't think a pie in the face was just awesome, and I always wanted it to happen to me...and then, one fine day, it did. My beautiful wife, who puts up with more strangeness from me than she probably deserves, hit me in the face with what has become many cream pies over the years. That's love, folks! Yes, I was a little nervous, the first time she hit me, but then I loved it. It's awesome. We do it once a year or so, and I always look forward to it with a lot of excitement.
Who knows, though -- when I'm a famous author and going on book tours and stuff, maybe I'll incorporate pieings into my events! And it would be fun to be able to participate in a good old-fashioned pie fight. A guy can dream, can't he?
More videos of me getting pied in the face are at the bottom of this page...but for now, how did this weirdness get started?
Well, like I said, I've always thought that a pie in the face is a grand thing, and growing up in the 1970s, pies in the face were still a comedic staple. You'd see people get hit with pies on game shows, and on variety shows, on sitcoms...even on Sesame Street. Those were the days....
I can't embed it, but here's a wonderful clip of Moe Howard appearing on the old Mike Douglas Show and offering some pie-hitting pointers. And here are two GIFs of the roomies from Three's Company getting pied. (Well, Janet and Jack get pied. Chrissy, in order to avoid getting pied, pies herself.)
But anyway, how did I get started getting hit with pies? Well, it all goes back to Little Quinn's brief lifetime. In his first few months, virtually all of our energy went into his care, to the point where The Wife and I started to kind-of lose track of one another. It was awful, but we recognized it and started carving out time and opportunity for each other -- usually just a few minutes here, an hour or so there. We needed ways to be together, to let off steam, and to find reasons to smile and laugh.
Enter my odd fascination with the pie in the face.
ME: "Have you ever wondered what a pie in the face felt like?"
SHE: "Not really. You have?"
ME: "Yeah. Want to try it?"
SHE: "You mean, me hitting you in the face with a pie?"
SHE: I don't want to get hit myself.
ME: That's fair.
SHE: So it would just be me hitting you.
ME: I'm fine with that.
SHE: Well OK, get a pie and I'll hit you in the face with it.
ME: You're really willing to give me a pie in the face?
SHE: Sure, why not?
HE: Well, it's kinda weird, isn't it?
SHE: You're worried about looking weird, now?
HE: Good point.
And thus a tradition was born...a tradition that consists of my wonderful wife smashing pies into my face. The first few times were a bit dodgy, but once she figured out how hard to properly hit me for maximum facial coverage and splatter, well...huzzah!
With the expected results:
In a lot of ways, I owe this tradition to my son. I wonder how he might think about the fact that part of his legacy is his father getting pied in the face on a regular basis...but I thank him for it. Thank you, Quinn!
Over the years since I've been posting about pies in the face, I've received some questions about the whole affair, so here is some mechanical detail about how to go about pieing and/or being pied. Some of these queries have actually been asked of me; others I've seen in my traffic reports as being the search engine strings used that led people here.
1. What kind of pie do you use?
First things first: No shaving cream. I don't care how well the stuff sticks to your face, and it really does stick wonderfully, because it's made to stick to the face. The problem is that it's soap. It tastes terrible, and it can sting the eyes. I'm pretty adamant that if a pie is going in my face, it had better be edible.
(Now, if you're doing some sort of theatrical presentation where quick and non-stinky cleanup is a factor, then you probably want to use shaving cream. What kind? No idea. I'm not getting pied as an actor, so I'm not using this stuff.)
So, what does that leave?
Aeresol whipped cream. Meh. This stuff doesn't stick very well, and it melts very quickly, unless you can find the heavier variety that is marketed to food service rather than the light stuff you buy at the grocery store. It's OK in a pinch, but I would never choose it willingly. For best results, a pie made with this stuff should be splatted relatively gently and then smeared around the recipient's face a little -- not a whole lot, just a bit.
Cool-Whip. Better than the aeresol stuff, but I find that by itself, it doesn't stick to the face very well, either. What helps is to mix the Cool-Whip with a stickier material, like cake frosting. What you can do is take an empty crust, either graham-cracker or one you bake (let it cool first), and fill it with some pudding (choose your flavor, I generally go with vanilla) and then top it with a mixture of a container of Cool-Whip into which you've whisked half a container of frosting. This seems to work pretty well.
Meringue. No. Just godawful. It doesn't stick at all. If you want to have a pie in the face experience that leaves as little pie on the face as possible, meringue is the way to go. Otherwise, fuhgeddaoudit.
Crust -- yes or no? Always use a crust. Always, always, always! A crust will pop out of the pan upon impact, thus ensuring that the entire pie sticks to the recipient's face. A crust also makes a much funnier visual, because there's just a lot more stuff sticking to the face.
My favorite pies to be hit with are Sara Lee coconut cream pies, although my last pieing was with Marie Callender's brand (pictured way up there at the top of this post). The Marie Callender pies are thicker and heavier than the Sara Lee ones, but on the basis of one pieing, I'm not sure if I prefer them, because I don't think I thawed them enough the one time I took them in my face. A frozen pie needs to be thawed completely, for obvious reasons, but even if it's thawed but on the cold side, it might make for a disappointing pieing if the custard isn't creamy enough in texture. The ideal pieing should leave layers on the recipient's face, not just a coating of whipped cream. There should be cream, followed by custard, followed by the crust.
UPDATE: My most recent pieing -- a self-pieing I administered for the Porphyria Pie Challenge -- involved two Marie Callender pies, which were pretty well-thawed indeed. The first photo on this page is me rocking the first of two Marie Callender pies in my face, and here are Vines of the two hits:
Pretty good! They'd have likely stuck even better (with more of the custard staying on my face instead of falling away with the crust) if I'd let them come even closer to room temperature.
As of this writing, I think that Sara Lee may have reformulated things with their pies a bit, so I'm not sure if their current product is as perfectly ideal for splatting in the face as their old one. Eventually I'll get hit with them, and I'll report my findings in this space. The things I do...
1a. What if I want to make my own pie?
For the artisanal pie-in-the-face experience, it's really pretty easy, although it takes a bit of time. You'll need the following:
:: 1 Frozen pie crust (although they're usually sold in packs of two, which is fine by me, as I never get hit with just one pie)
:: 12 oz container of cool whip, thawed according to directions (just stick it in the fridge and it's thawed in about six hours)
:: 1 package of generic pudding cups (these come in packs of 4, or you can get an equivalent larger tub of pudding)
:: 1 can of Betty Crocker whipped fluffy white frosting, or some other similar whipped frosting
1. Bake the crust according to directions. (Yes, a graham-cracker crust is acceptable, but I prefer the baked version.) Let cool. They cool pretty quickly, actually.
2. When the crust is cool, spoon into one pie all of the four cups of pudding. Smooth with a spatula. This is your custard filling, which gives the pie a nice bit of weight.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the Cool Whip together with half the container of frosting. Then spoon this all onto the top of the pudding in the pie shell.
If you want a nice presentation, you can put some of the cream/frosting mixture into a piping bag and pipe it on, like this:
This results in quite a lovely pie, in my opinion! Add a cherry for a nice decorative garnish, but remember to remove the cherry before the pie is delivered into its designated face.
4. Refrigerate the pie for several hours, so everything sets up nicely. When ready for splatting, let the pie sit out for a little bit -- fifteen minutes or so -- to soften just a touch. These work quite nicely:
(Those first two were just test-pieings, to see how they worked. It's a lot more fun getting pied by someone else.)
2. How do you take a pie in the face, anyway?
If you're the recipient of a pie in your face, your job is easy. You just stand there and get hit with the pie. Afterwards, well -- laugh, smile, giggle, whatever. You can try to hide your face behind your hands, but it's best to just accept that fact that your dignity has been completely blown. Wear the pie on your face with pride!
There will be some natural shock, especially if you're getting pied for the first time. Try and enjoy it! Don't try to wipe it away instantly; let your audience have the pleasure of seeing you with pie all over your face. And if you have long hair, don't bother tying it back; you'll get pie in your hair anyway. It's not that hard to wash out; just rinse more than usual before shampooing.
Smocks and covering up with trash bags is OK...I guess. Goggles? No. Never. Don't do it. And if you wear a shower cap and goggles, shame on you!
3. How do you clean up afterward?
UPDATE 10-3-14: Now we live in a house with a fenced-in yard! This makes clean-up a lot easier. It's all biodegradable, so a bit of time with the garden hose and most of the pie breaks up, melts, and washes away. Nice and easy. If getting pied outside is an option, that's really the way to go. And if you take a change of clothes outside, you can leave your pied clothes out there as well and hose them off before putting them in the wash. Now -- ahem -- depending on how private your yard is, you may wish to wear swim trunks or shorts under whatever outfit you're getting pied in. Yet another wonderful benefit of overalls is that their baggy nature makes this very easy.
Now, if you live in an apartment, well, you can cover whatever area you're using for pieing with drop cloths, or you can just stand in the bathtub. That's what I did during our years of apartment living. After all pies have been splatted, it's an easy matter of turning on the shower and cleaning off. Just shower fully-clothed, it's easier. Break up the big chunks of pie with your toes to send them down the drain. Don't worry, this stuff won't clog your pipes. It dissolves too quickly to do so.
4. Why do you always wear overalls when you get pied?
Because I wear overalls when I do just about everything! Overalls aren't just utilitarian workwear; for me they're a kind of symbol of the kind of whimsical and slightly-eccentric life I want to lead. And you don't get more whimsical or slightly-eccentric than a pie in the face, do you? And besides, overalls are tough and rugged and are always right back to the way they were after a trip through the washer. (It helps that I don't get hit with pies that might stain.)
5. Do you always get hit with more than one pie?
Usually, just because if we're gonna go to the trouble of a pieing, we might as well do it right. Three or four is my max, though. More than that is just overkill.
6. Does it hurt?
If it does, find someone else to hit you. It shouldn't hurt at all. If you watch the videos, you'll see that my wife hits me at times with what looks like quite a bit of force -- but they never hurt. I imagine there's some physics involved with the pie itself absorbing the kinetic energy of the hit as it smooshes onto your face, or something like that. No, it doesn't hurt! And hey, the little bits of toasted coconut might even exfoliate!
7. Smash or smoosh?
I prefer a nice, hard splat that leaves the crust stuck to my face and sends chunks of cream splatter everywhere. But there's something to be said for a nice, gentle smooshing of the pie into the face as well. Here's a brief comparison:
I've never had one thrown into my face. A nicely-thrown pie always looks great when it hits, but I've seen too many such throws go awry and only strike glancing blows. If I'm getting a pie in the face, I want the pie in my face!
8. Doesn't the smell linger in your nose for a while?
Ummm...yeah, usually for a few hours. Small price to pay, in my mind.
9. You pie yourself sometimes?
Sure, although I strongly prefer having someone else do it. It's way more exciting and fun that way. When I pie myself, it's either for effect in a video (my Porphyria Challenge and Pi Day videos) or because I'm testing a new pie brand or method and I want to see how well it works. When I get pied by someone else, I want the pieing to be great!
10. I want to get pied but I'm too nervous to ask someone to do it.
Well...it's been my experience that your real friends won't care much. They'll just factor it into your particular set of weirdnesses. Yes, it's an odd thing to request, and I wanted my wife to pie me for years before I finally asked. But really, once I crossed the hurdle, it's not that big a deal. It's a pie in the face. Just ask.
11. Are 'surprise' pieings OK?
As in, sneaking up behind someone or hiding in a doorway to pie them when they turn around or walk through? I'm not a fan of this. They don't know what's coming, so they'll duck, resulting in a lopsided pie hit and likely splatter all over the place. Heck, I'd react the same way, and I love getting pied. I'm not a big fan of pieings as political protest, either. A pie in the face should be a moment of joy and laughter, not sneers and derision.
12. Isn't this all a little...weird?
Well, yeah. What's your point?
Finally, here are the videos of all my pieings:
This one first appeared on the blog here.
This next one coincided with my 40th birthday. Here's the original blog post.
I really like the way this one turned out. It's longer, with 'behind the scenes' stuff. Original blog post.
This next is a video I did for the "Porphyria Pie Challenge", which is one of the pie-in-the-face challenges that came around after the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took the world by storm. A lot of illnesses were associated with pie challenges, but I chose the porphyria one because I had never heard of it, which seems to me a good example of the whole "raising awareness" thing. (These are self-pieings.)
Pi Day 2015:
You know that "Pie Face" game? Don't play it. You want a game of chance involving a pie in the face? Here you go!
That should cover just about everything I have to say about being pied in the face! (Until I think of something else, that is.)
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