No food is more universally worshipped than pizza, which makes any slice-related accident or mishap all the more tragic. Unfortunately, its rock-like frozen crusts, acidic, eye-searing sauce, and molten cheese mean even a simple pie can be weaponized if it falls into the wrong hands. Check out seven people who were injured as a direct result of eating, pursuing, or being bludgeoned by this object of doughy desire.
1. THE PIZZA-HURLING PUPPET
A children’s puppet show is the last place you’d expect to be harmed by a pizza. But for magician Paul Daniels, what promised to be an innocuous appearance on the popular U.K. kiddie series The Sooty Show turned into a traumatic event. Daniels was taping a segment with the felt-covered star and insisted that a pizza be thrown at him harder for greater comedic effect. The puppet complied, and the second take resulted in a hand-tossed pie that dazed the 73-year-old Daniels, stung his eye with sauce, and prompted a trip to the hospital. Sooty’s operator, Richard Cadell, issued an apology on the puppet’s behalf. “Sooty’s very sorry for what happened,” he said. “He didn’t know his own strength.”
2. THE DANGERS OF CHICKEN-TOPPED PIES
Carnivores are always taking a small risk whenever they bite into their animal of choice: bone fragments can linger even after a proper dressing and cleaning. A restaurant patron was reminded of the danger when she bit into a chicken-topped barbeque pizza at the Round Table in San Francisco in February 2010. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Calla Felicity was splitting a pie with her mother when she inadvertently swallowed a one-inch long chicken bone. The edged contaminant pierced her esophagus, causing a rupture that became infected. She subsequently endured 11 surgeries. A jury awarded Felicity $2.5 million in damages, with negligence split 60/40 between the chicken farm (Foster) and the Pizza Bytes franchise, which owns the Round Table.
3. THE END OF THE DOMINO’S 30 MINUTE GUARANTEE
Eager to cement their status at the country’s premiere pizza franchise, Domino’s Pizza began promising customers in 1983 that their delivered pie would arrive in 30 minutes or less. The resulting pressure on drivers not to give away the doughy inventory for free or at a discount resulted in a number of accidents and lawsuits. But it wasn’t until a St. Louis woman named Jean Kinder was hit by a Domino’s driver who ran a red light that the company ended the promotion. Kinder suffered neck and spinal injuries as a result; in 1993, a jury penalized the company to the tune of $79 million.
In 2007, the franchise brought back the marketing gimmick with a “You Got 30 Minutes” ad campaign that didn’t make any explicit promise of expedited delivery. Changing their tune in 2013, they touted new pan pizzas that take slightly longer to cook by announcing they were no longer “all about speed.”
4. TAKEOUT PIZZA PUTS A FOOTBALL PRO IN THE HOSPITAL
Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson had some rotten luck in 2012 and 2013. First, he broke his leg during a game. A year later, he was back in the operating room with the same surgeon—this time because of pizza. Burleson was driving home with two piping hot pies on the passenger seat of his GMC Yukon when the box on top began sliding off. Burleson leaned over to prevent it from falling, lost control of the wheel, and crashed off the interstate. His broken arm took two months to heal. While infirm, he was gifted with free pizzas for a year from frozen pie company DiGiorno, who wrote that they understand “the challenges that come with pizza carry out.”
5. A TASTE OF THE MOB
For decades, it’s been alleged the Mob has had a hand in using pizza joints as fronts for shadier dealings, or even strong-arming honest owners into using their inferior mozzarella. In 2011, pizzeria owner Eugene Lombardo came up against Columbo family associate Francis Guerra, who was charged with smacking the restaurateur over his pie. Guerra's issue: he claimed Lombardo's 'za tasted too similar to the slices sold by his in-laws at L&B in Brooklyn. According to the New York Daily News, Guerra demanded Lombardo stop hawking his knock-off recipe, which he advertised as being close to L&B’s flavor. The information came out during an investigation into murder charges, which Guerra beat—per the News, however, he was eventually sent to prison on a drug-related offense.
6. A (HOT) PIE IN THE FACE
While standing in line at a Truro, Nova Scotia, pizza parlor in April 2015, 22-year-old Paige Beaudry chastised a man for cutting in line. According to the Toronto Sun, the patron’s female associate allegedly stuffed a steaming slice in her face. The attack burned Beaudry’s cheeks, eyes, and nose; the woman was charged with assault with a weapon and, as of July, was still awaiting a court decision.
7. THE FROZEN PIZZA AS BLUNT OBJECT
Thoroughly cooked, pizza can be a delicious, largely harmless saucer of cheer. Frozen, it can be used as a bludgeon. According to the Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin, a man was robbed by two passersby while walking home from a convenience store. After rejecting their request for money and turning away, he was struck in the head with a rock-solid pie; on the ground, the men punched him and stole his wallet. The perpetrators were never located.