The Ultimate Ranking Of The Best Food Fights On TV

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Things are tense. The tension builds and builds until it reaches its peak. A single fry flies into the air. That's when someone screams, "Food fight!" at the top of their lungs. At least, that's how it happens onscreen. This beloved TV and movie trope likely takes its cues from real-life cuisine clashes. According to PBS Food, the origins of food fight festivals, like the Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, Italy, dates back to medieval times.

But nowadays, real-life food fights can be seen as wasteful with many hungry people worldwide. They might even land you in the clink — even if you're a kid! According to NBC Chicago, 25 students aged 11 to 15 were handcuffed and arrested in Chicago in 2009 for staging a food fight in the cafeteria. So, you might want to stick to watching them onscreen.

NPR reports that some of the earliest silver screen food battles are derived from the silent films of the 1900s, where pie fights were used as a form of physical comedy. Today's onscreen food fights can express a multitude of things. These produce and carb skirmishes can ensue as an act of celebration, rebellion, revolt, violence, or just some plain old fun. We've ranked the most epic food fights ever to grace the big and little screens.

12. Whip It

Instead of throwing fists, the women of "Whip It" throw fries and shakes. "Whip It" is a film about a Texan gal named Bliss Cavendar, played by Elliot Page, who is not content with being thrown into the pageant circuit. Instead, she lies about her age and tries out for the Hurl Scouts, a losing women's roller derby team. She makes the roster and is christened "Babe Ruthless."

After Babe Ruthless has finally made a mark in the world of roller derby, her bully on the opposing team, the Holy Rollers, was there to ruin it with a ketchup-smothered fry to the face. But this time, Babe has been pushed too far. Her newfound confidence gives her the guts to fling a handful of cream pie at her oppressor, Iron Maven, played by Juliette Lewis.

Cue Smashley Simpson, played by Drew Barrymore, to declare, "FOOD FIGHT!" in classic form. The diner breaks into a frenzy, with patrons tossing their meals through the air. Meanwhile, Ruthless and Maven engage in another classic TV moment where they tussle on the ground. You know, where characters grab each other by the shoulders and roll around on the floor while not actually assaulting each other.

11. The Nanny

Fran Drescher's over-the-top nasally voice will forever be embedded in our minds thanks to "The Nanny." Drescher created and co-produced the NBC sitcom that ran aired 1993 to 1999. The comedy series is about Fran Fine from Flushing, who finagles her way into a gig as a full-time nanny to a well-off widower with three kids after being fired and ditched by her boyfriend. Now she is an au pair to Maggie, Brighton, and Grace Sheffield.

Some of you may remember the funny food fight in Season 3, Episode 4, "A Fine Family Feud," where an old family squabble was resolved with pastry smushing. Instead of throwing Maggie's Sweet 16 at The Guggenheim Museum, Fine persuades the Sheffields to host the event at her Aunt Frieda's nightclub. The party was going off without a hitch until Fine's mother and aunt started going at it over a past betrayal.

Eventually, these two let bygones be bygones but not before covering each other in eclairs. Fine makes a critical mistake when she asks the two if they are trying to start a food fight. One of the kids overhears those magic words and screams them into the room, prompting the guests to begin throwing confections of all kinds. Despite the mess, it was still a very happy birthday for Maggie.

10. Blazing Saddles

What's a country western flick without... a pie fight? Since "Blazing Saddles" is a spoof on gunslinging cowboy flicks, it totally works in this 1974 motion picture by Mel Brooks. It stars Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder and brings us to the town of Rock Ridge, where everyone's surname is Johnson. Mean guy Hedley Lemar, played by Harvey Korman, looks to make a land grab in order to build a railroad and starts pulling strings to make the town unbearable for its residents. But Lemar's plan backfires, and the townspeople fight back.

The Rock Ridge townsfolk revolt with an extremely violent pie fight, which is declared "The Great Pie Fight," where no one is safe from getting creamed. Hedley thinks he can escape from catching a punim full of cream and sugar and slips into the men's bathroom. But that isn't the case. He hilariously exits seconds later with a thickly-frosted face.

9. Family Matters

Most 80s and 90s kids will never forget the love Steve Urkel had for Laura Winslow in the ABC comedy "Family Matters." The sitcom ran for nine seasons between 1989 to 1998. Jaleel White was only meant to make a single appearance as Urkel on the show. However, the live studio audience responded so well to the quirky character that he became a permanent character who ended up stealing the show.

But what was more absurd than how annoying Urkel was, was how obsessed Myra Monkhouse was with the nerdy neighbor. Monkhouse was Urkel's girlfriend, so, naturally, she hated Winslow and saw her as her nemesis. Her paranoia over Winslow stealing her love resulted in her flinging mashed potatoes at her enemy's head in Season 5, Episode 1, titled "Hell Toupee." It was a food fight in the name of love.

Of course, in perfect TV fashion, Monkhouse stands perfectly still as Winslow announces that she will be pouring Jell-O down her blouse before doing so. Anyone in real life would have fought back or moved before letting that happen, but this is television we're talking about. What proceeded was a wild cafeteria-wide food fight in which even the lunch workers participated. 

8. Fried Green Tomatoes

"Fried Green Tomatoes" is a movie with a friendly food fight that sticks it to the man with a face full of chocolate. The 1991 drama partially takes place in 1920s Alabama where wild pants-wearing woman Idgie Threadgoode, played by Mary Stuart Masterson, inspires the timid Ruth Johnson, performed by Mary-Louise Parker, to leave her abusive husband. The two women live together and by their own rules.

Throughout the course of their friendship, Ruth grows into an assured woman by following Idgie's headstrong lead. But after hanging out with Idgie for some time, Ruth finally grows a pair and tells Idgie how she really feels about her burnt batch of fried green tomatoes. Little did she know that she would be met with a glass of water to the face.

But since Ruth is now standing firm in her confidence, she returns the favor by tossing a glass of water at Idgie, to which Idgie responds by shoving a handful of blackberries into Ruth's face. Fists full of flour are exchanged while the pair are in hysterics on the floor. Hearing women so blissfully happy upsets local police officer Grady Kilgore who threatens to arrest them for disorderly conduct. Apparently, women enjoying themselves and having fun was an affront to the law and decency. But Idgie and Ruth don't care. "Well, arrest us then!" Idgie tells him, but Ruth decides she will handle this one. The women continue giggling as Ruth slathers a spatula full of frosting over Kilgore's face.

7. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

What's the best way to combat bigotry and hatred? A food fight! Well, at least that was the case in this scene from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." The 2001 drama/comedy/musical is about Hedwig, who was born male and has gender reassignment surgery that gets botched. Hence the angry inch. According to Playbill, the iconic film was even adapted into an award-winning play.

As if things weren't hard enough for Hedwig, her ex-lover, Tommy Gnosis, steals all of her songs. Hedwig's story is told in a series of flashbacks during her concerts at a seafood restaurant.

But not everyone was happy to hear about Hedwig's angry inch when she played Bilgewater's Baltimore. So, when someone yelled out a homophobic slur, the jeers of Hedwig's fans resulted in a violent food fight with a side of mayhem. But the uber rock and roll scene where the bigots got what was coming to them still didn't seem to please our Hedwig.

6. Cheers

It was supposed to be a nice and quiet Thanksgiving dinner, but throw the "Cheers" cast into the mix, and an argument, or several, was bound to ensue. This particular happy holiday evolved into a food fight. "Cheers" is about a rag-tag lot that works or hangs out at a Boston bar "where everybody knows your name." The series ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993.

In the 1986 episode titled, "Thanksgiving Orphans," the Cheers gang have no plans to hang out with family, so they decide to spend the holiday together at Rhea Pearlman's character Carla's house. Norm, played by Norm Peterson, tried his best to make his buddies a proper turkey dinner, but there were some complications in the kitchen.

When the dinner was quite late, the Cheers crew got a little hangry. Well, more than a little. What ensued was a slippery, sloppy food fight that ended with everyone being thankful for each other.

5. National Lampoon's Animal House

The food fight in "National Lampoon's Animal House" is so great because it serves both a retaliatory purpose and an escape diversion. The fellas at Faber College frat Delta Tau Chi know how to have a good time. And that's precisely why the stiff and stodgy elitists of the Omega Theta Pi House agree to help Dean Vernon Wormer get the fun fraternity expelled.

Our food fight scene begins when one of the Omega Theta Pi House leaders and his followers impose on the Delta House rush chairman Eric "Otter" Stratton's lunch with a lady. John "Bluto" Blutarsky butts in and asks if the stuck-up lot can guess what he is after they tell him that he's a disgusting pig.

Bluto takes a large bite of mashed potatoes and punches his cheeks, spitting everything out at the squares. He's a zit! Bluto laughs and makes silly noises as the preppy frat boy chases him around. After he tricks all the uniformed dressed men into fleeing the cafeteria to run after him, Bluto returns, declaring "food fight!" The entire room follows suit, obviously, and the air is filled with food.

4. Heavy Weights

The food fight in Disney cult classic "Heavy Weights" is one of our top favorites because it is in reverse. Instead of dousing each other with food, each of the kids at Camp Hope covers themselves in snacks, both sweet and savory.

"Heavy Weights" tells the tale of 11-year-old Gerry Garner, who is forced to attend Camp Hope, a weight loss camp for boys. Upon his arrival, Gerry quickly realizes that he's found his tribe. He's no longer "the fat kid" because "everybody's the fat kid." But the beloved summer sleepaway quickly becomes a miserable hellscape when fitness nutjob Tony Perkis assumes ownership and puts them on a barbaric fitness routine to get results for his Perkis System infomercial.

Gerry and his fellow mates of the Chipmunk bunk decided they would be mistreated no more and overthrow and imprison Perkis. To celebrate, they throw a massive party and smother each other with food. Fireworks fly as a parade of pizzas is delivered, and campers pelt each other with pastries. Others turn into human sundaes, drizzling themselves and each other in streams of chocolate syrup and whip cream with cherries on top. This extreme act of overindulgence ends with some serious belly aches and a lesson about self responsibility learned.

3. The Great Race

This infamous cinematic food fight was produced on an incredibly large scale and has been deemed "the longest pie fight sequence in movie history," according to IMDb. The scene took five days to shoot, even though it only lasted about four minutes onscreen.

TMC tells us that "The Great Race," released in 1965, takes us back to New York City in 1908 when the nefarious Professor Fate pits himself against The Great Leslie in a car race that stretches from New York to Paris. When the rivals make their way through Europe, they visit a kingdom called Carpania. A trip to a local bakery in the European locale results in a slapstick pie-tossing fiasco inspired by silent screen stars Laurel and Hardy.

It's a classic pie fight where innocent bystanders get caught in the crossfire and chaos ensues. Movies! Reel Variety says that more than 4,000 pies made with custard, fruit, and whip cream were used in the film, which cost about $18,000. An estimated $200,000 was spent to produce the entire scene. Natalie Wood reportedly choked after some desserts landed in her open mouth. Jack Lemmon was even knocked unconscious, citing that a pie to the face felt like "a ton of cement."

2. Matilda

Ding dong, the Trunchbull is dead. Well, she was run out of town by a bunch of kids, their brown bag lunches, and a little girl's magic. But being free from their evil tyrant of a principal was good enough for the elementary school students in "Matilda." This food fight presents the ultimate justice for any kid who has ever been bullied by an adult.

The 1996 film is based on a book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Matilda is the story of a gifted girl with a nasty family and an even nastier principal. When she's sent to school, she finds herself an exceedingly kind teacher named Ms. Honey and lots of friends. Unfortunately, however, they are all subject to the rule of Agatha Trunchbull, a.k.a. "The Trunchbull," the headmistress at Crunchem Hall Primary School.

Matilda, her teacher, and her friends have taken abuse from Trunchbull for far too long and finally decided they are done. Matilda, with the help of her psychic powers and her friends, is able to beat down the evil headmistress. She finally gives up and is sent running from the school when the students bust out their lunch boxes and pelt her with bananas, apples, and homemade sandwiches. Bruce even gets his revenge by stuffing Trunchbull's face with some chocolate cake. "And the Trunchbull was gone. Never to be seen or heard from. Never to darken a doorway again."

1. Hook

This isn't your classic food fight; it's a magical one, and that's why it's first on our list. Peter Banning finally realizes he possesses the power of imagination and launches a food fight with edible rainbow confections in the 1991 film "Hook."

Peter Banning is a hot-shot lawyer whose world is turned upside down when he learns that Captain James Hook has stolen his children and brought them to Neverland. Peter goes after them but has to learn to regain his beautiful child-like spark to learn how to fly and defeat his old nemesis. Thankfully, Banning isn't on this mission alone. 

Tinkerbell arrives in London to take him to Neverland. There, he is saved by some pretty mermaids and then reconnects with the Lost Boys who try to help him remember his true identity as the legendary Peter Pan. Banning goes through extensive physical training and is famished after a long day of work, but there's no food. Instead, everyone is playing their favorite game where they pretend they have things to eat. But after a flyting contest with Rufio, Banning finally remembers how to dream and finds a smorgasbord laid out before him. It's the first step toward Banning becoming the Pan. That's when handfuls of rainbow-colored cream start flying. It was very bangarang!