CLOSE
Original image

5 Adult-Friendly Food Fights Around the World

Original image

1. The Battle of Oranges

Photo from the 2007 Battle of Oranges by Flickr user Giò-S.p.o.t.s.

Each February at the Carnival of Ivrea in Italy, citizens commemorate the people's uprising against the tyrannical Raineri di Biandrate with an epic food fight.

As the story goes, Biandrate gave himself the right to sleep with any bride on her wedding night. One day, a beautiful young woman named Violetta issued a clear rejection by decapitating him with a dagger. Violetta became the hero of the commoners, a symbol of the numerous revolts against the monarchy.

Nowadays, participants are divided into two teams. One group parades through town in carriages to represent the emperor’s men. The other team, representing the common people, stays on foot and hurls food at the aristocracy. And of course, both groups sport era-appropriate costumes.

While this epic food fight originally featured beans, citizens of Ivrea switched to oranges in the 19th century. Makes sense. If you’re going to be in the midst of a messy food fight, better to be covered in Tropicana than bean soup. By the time the last fruit is thrown, the streets are covered in sugary, citrus-scented sap (minus the annoying peels). Orange you glad they didn’t use bananas?


Photo from the 2011 Battle of the Oranges by Flickr user Sebastiano Rossi. See the rest of his photo set here.

2. The World Custard Pie Championship

YouTube video of the 2008 World Custard Pie Championships by New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television

In Coxheath, Britain, finding a super-fun food fight is as easy as pie. In a competition inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s slapstick comedy, no one can turn down a heaping helping of pie-in-the-face.

Contestants work in teams of five, attempting to pummel pies at specific parts of opponents’ bodies. Points are awarded depending on what part of the body is hit, and striking an adversary in the face automatically earns competitors 6 points. Judges also reward originality: amusing styles of pie-throwing earn competitors up to 5 additional points.

The only downside? These scrumptious-looking pies are inedible. Instead of real custard, they are purportedly made from a secret recipe consisting of water and flour. But that still doesn’t stop people from all walks of life – businessmen, students, and nuns alike – from heading downtown to get their just desserts.

3. La Meringada

YouTube video of the 2011 La Merengada by Canal Blau TV

La Batalla de Carmelos/La Meringada is a two-pronged food fight in Vilanova, Spain that leaves everyone involved with a serious sugar rush.

The festival has its roots in the Franco era, when townspeople angrily protested the regime’s ban on carnivals by throwing sweets. Each year, after sitting down to a traditional Lenten meal of fish with red pepper sauce and salad, residents of the town spill out onto the streets to cream the competition, chucking the sweet stuff at everything that moves. Even you, Granny.

If that’s not enough, townspeople gather the Saturday before to attend La Batalla de Carmelos, a parade in which caramels are hurled into the crowd. Children and adults alike congregate to catch the sweets to kick off the week’s festivities. Now that’s what I call a sweet pregame.

4. The Great Fruitcake Toss

This YouTube video of the 2008 Fruitcake Toss by jgrotz includes the destruction of a computer at the 1:25 mark

Finally, brilliant minds in Manitou Springs, Colorado have developed a solution to an age-old conundrum: how do you get rid of a freaking fruitcake? The answer: chuck it as far as possible, and pray it’s never found.

Participants register by paying a small fee or donating a can of non-perishable food. While this nutty brawl primarily consists of a skirmish against the revolting food itself, participants also battle each other for prizes and the cachet of a cake-tossing title.

Competition is intense. Athletes face off in two weight classes (2-lb and 4-lb cakes) and numerous tossing divisions: the catapult, the giant slingshot, and the spud gun. Several local inns offer services to give participants a competitive edge—including extra-sturdy cakes and lessons to help refine their tossing technique.

The event also includes a “catch the cake” competition, as well as an accuracy task in which participants aim their fruitcakes at targets. Teams are also awarded prizes for showmanship: coolest costume, slogan, and cake-hurling device.

5. La Tomatina

YouTube video about La Tomatina by Journeyman Pictures

The mother of all food fights tastes curiously like SpaghettiOs. In Buñol, Spain, thousands of citizens gather each year to participate in the world’s most epic food fight. In this massive tomato-throwing frenzy, there are no teams. Rather, it’s every man for himself in a V8 bloodbath.

The tradition began in 1945 when a group of teenagers watching the festival of gigantes and cabezudos (puppets with enormous heads) attempted to join the parade, causing angry audience members to pelt them and each other with tomatoes from a nearby produce stand.

To prevent the food fight from degenerating into an unmediated melee, la Tomatina is governed by a strict set of rules established by the city council.

  1. The tomatoes must be squashed before throwing to avoid injuries.
  2. No other projectiles except tomatoes are allowed.
  3. Participants have to move out of the way for trucks and lorries.
  4. No ripping off the t-shirts of other contestants.
  5. After the final shot goes off, no more throwing tomatoes.

La Tomatina has spawned copycats across the globe, inspiring similar tomato brawls in Columbia and Reno, Nevada. But if they’re looking to host the largest food fight on Earth, the rest of a world needs to do a lot of tomato squashing to ketchup. (Yeah, we went there.)


Photo from La Tomatina 2006 by Flickr user davidd (puuikibeach). See the rest of his set here.

Original image
Family Communications Inc./Getty Images
arrow
Pop Culture
The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
Original image
Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

Original image
© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox
arrow
entertainment
20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
Original image
© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

Getty Images

Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

Getty Images

Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

YouTube

Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

Getty Images

Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios