1. The Battle of Oranges
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?
2. The World Custard Pie Championship
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
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
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
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.
- The tomatoes must be squashed before throwing to avoid injuries.
- No other projectiles except tomatoes are allowed.
- Participants have to move out of the way for trucks and lorries.
- No ripping off the t-shirts of other contestants.
- 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.)