How A Christmas Story's Tongue-on-the-Flagpole Scene Was Filmed
By Emily Petsko
If the classic 1983 holiday movie A Christmas Story taught us anything, it’s to be wary of BB guns, mall elves, and flagpoles. More specifically: sticking your tongue on a frozen flagpole.
Of course, that’s the situation little Flick (played by Scott Schwartz) found himself in when he was challenged to a triple dog dare. Fortunately, though, the child actor didn’t actually have to subject his tongue to ice-cold metal, CinemaBlend has reported. Instead, a suction apparatus was attached to the pole to create the illusion of Schwartz’s tongue being stuck, without the risk of ripping off chunks of flesh for real.
"They made a piece of plastic that they slid over [the flagpole]," Schwartz explained in a previous interview. "It had a little hole in it with a suction tube that went into the snow—you couldn’t see it, it was a little motor, like a small vacuum cleaner, [and] the hole-opening [in the plastic] was about the size of your pinky nail. So when you put your tongue there or finger or whatever, it just stuck.”
He could easily remove his tongue by pulling back, and the whole scene was painless (with the exception of the frigid temperatures the young actors had to endure).
Every once in a while, some kid who just watched the movie on TV will attempt this tongue-freezing feat and end up getting “thtuck,” just as Flick did. Schwartz is often asked by reporters to comment on these copycat cases.
“I get calls every year from [reporters], ‘Hey, we got a kid that stuck his tongue to a pole. Can you give us a comment?,’” Schwartz told Yahoo! in 2015. "I go, 'Yeah, he’s a schmuck.'"
According to Schwartz, A Christmas Story didn’t use any special effects or anything “that would create buzz or massive attention for the film,” so its subsequent success as "an American iconic film" was somewhat of a surprise for those involved.
This story has been updated for 2020.