When we think about Thanksgiving, more often than not, we think about food. The turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the pie … and all the leftovers that follow. But what’s more fun than a traditional Thanksgiving meal? A pie-slinging food fight, of course. In this spirit, we’ve rounded up some of the greatest onscreen food fights to add some fun to your holiday weekend. You might never look at mashed potatoes the same way again.
We love a food fight when everyone, except the instigator, starts out especially clean. In Animal House, John Landis’ beloved college classic, it all begins when John Belushi’s character, Bluto, pops his cheeks and mashed potatoes go flying out of his mouth and all over his hostile, preppy tablemates. “I’m a zit, get it?” he says, to cries of disgust. (Let’s not forget that Bluto’s tray is piled high with all kinds of food, a foreshadowing of sorts.) A chase around the cafeteria results in an all-out food fight.
In this 1995 Olsen twin film, two doppelgängers (played by Mary-Kate and Ashley) plot to get their guardians to fall in love with each other. It has hints of The Parent Trap—a summer camp run-in, an evil blonde poised to marry Alyssa’s (Ashley) dad, a matchmaking scheme—but one of the elements that makes it stand out is a spectacular food fight scene in the camp cafeteria. Alyssa, to keep her dad and Amanda’s (Mary-Kate) social worker guardian from realizing the girls have traded places, trips a passerby, whose mac and cheese lands on her dad’s head. Then comes the butter, the sloppy joes and the mashed potatoes. It’s ultimately a scene that brings the two adults closer together—shenanigans and plot advancement!—and it remains one of the foods fights we most wish we could’ve been a part of.
The food fight in Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks’ Oscar-nominated Western comedy, is particularly memorable because of the way it breaks the fourth wall. The people of Rock Ridge face off against those hired to drive them away to make way for a new railroad, ultimately landing inside the Warner Bros. studio commissary, where the characters fling a seemingly unending supply of pies, soup and tuna surprise at one another. The film’s main villain, Hedley Lamarr, heads into the men’s room to avoid the mess, only to exit moments later covered in pie. Not even visitors taking a tour of the studio are spared.
Fried Green Tomatoes, which received Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Tandy), takes us through the stories that an old lady in a nursing home (Tandy) tells a depressed housewife (Kathy Bates) about her past. The tale involves Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker), who, in one scene, are cooking at their Whistle Stop Café. It’s not long before the two are covered in water, blackberries and flour. The town sheriff comes in after hearing the commotion, only to be covered in chocolate frosting. This one is set on a much more intimate scale, proving that you only really need two people for a proper food fight.
The food fight in Matilda, Danny DeVito’s adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, is more of a food pile-on. The gifted Matilda uses her powers to help a classmate fly, make the evil school principal, Miss Trunchbull, spin on a globe, and knock down all the students’ lunches—the perfect call to action for her fellow classmates. The kids pick up their food and start hurling it in the direction of Trunchbull. Once the action makes it to the hallway, other classrooms follow suit. It’s not long before she faces a sea of students with bananas and PB&J sandwiches in hand. At one point, Bruce Bogtrotter, who’s bullied by Trunchbull into eating a whole chocolate cake earlier in the film, gets to smear cake all over her face. If not a two-way food fight, it’s certainly one with a satisfying and meaningful ending.
Blake Edwards’ The Great Race features a pie fight for the ages. In the film, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play competitors in a cross-continental car race who happen upon a fictional European kingdom, where an all-out pie fight ensues inside a massive bakery. It took five days to shoot and 4,000 custard-filled pies (not to mention the biggest tiered cake we’ve ever seen) to make this four-minute scene a reality—and no one left unscathed–except for Treg Brown, who won an Oscar for his sound effects work.