5 of the World's Messiest Food Fights
If you're in grade school, instigating a cafeteria food fight could annihilate your permanent record. If you're an adult, on the other hand, hurling a hamburger into the face of your nearest neighbor is encouraged in certain settings.
Unlike middle school's impromptu burger and burrito battles, organized food fights for grown-ups require plenty of promotion and coordination between local authorities, security and medics. These events are held to put cities on the map, aid charities and maintain unusual traditions dating back centuries.
If you aspire to scour the globe for the best spots to unleash some culinary fury, cross the Atlantic and visit these five places. Just don't forget to pack some bleach.
La Tomatina - Bunol, Spain
Here in Bunol, Spain, you don't have to perform your poorest acoustic rendition of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" onstage to get bombarded by tomatoes. In late August every year, Bunol's storekeepers drape plastic over their shops to prepare for 110 tons of tomatoes that will fly through the streets.
La Tomatina is often called the "world's biggest food fight." The town of 9,000 used to draw up to 50,000 food fighters to La Tomatina annually, but a 20,000-person limit was enforced in 2013 to keep the crowds safe.
After the one-hour battle concludes, the luckiest participants are sprayed off by locals, while the others have to take to the Bunol River. Firetrucks hose down the town, rendering it sparkly clean for 12 months until the next round begins.
Battle of the Oranges - Ivrea, Italy
La Tomatina isn’t the only European food fight that will leave you wringing brightly-colored fruit juice from your clothing for days. Italy's largest food fight, Battle of the Oranges, is more intricate than Bunol's "squish a tomato and toss it" approach.
Battle of the Oranges, held every February, is modeled after a medieval uprising against tyranny, as the tradition is believed to date back more than 500 years ago. Its competitors dress as knights, employing actual horse-drawn carriages and more than a million rotten oranges to defend their castles.
Nets strung around the town of Ivrea protect spectators because the brave knights are known to require first aid from the impact of the projectiles. For the bleeding warrior, that citrus splashback must lead to a painful, acidic aftermath.
World Custard Pie Championship - Coxheath, England
Who said all food fights have to be healthy? Folks looking to do some clowning around in England can team up in late spring and squash some creamy custard pies into the faces of their rival competitors for charity.
The World Custard Pie Championship is perfect for those who crave a more intimate food fight: fourteen teams of four faced off last year, tossing just 2,000 pies in comparison to the millions of fruits hurled annually in Bunol and Ivrea.
The act of pieing others at World Custard Pie Championship isn't as easy as it looks in slapstick movies or on Nickelodeon. Contenders must stand eight feet away from one another, and the number of points awarded varies based on whether the pie strikes the face, chest or arm. Better get some target practice in during the offseason.
Els Enfarinats - Ibi, Spain
Eastern Spain doesn't see snow during the holiday season. But on December 28, Ibi's Els Enfarinats egg and flour fight transforms the city into a powdery, gooey winter wonderland.
Every year on Day of the Innocents--Spain's equivalent of April Fools' Day--a fake mayoral race takes place where Iba is handed over to corrupt leaders who impose wacky new laws and fine disobeying residents. Somehow Ibi's townspeople always wind up unsatisfied with the new government, and Ibi's townspeople always unleash a rebellion using...baking ingredients.
The 200-year old tradition, long lost until it was rediscovered and resurrected in 1981, goes to show that a grinch simply can’t quash the holiday spirit of a close-knit community. Otherwise those devoted dwellers will take a break from baking their festive desserts, step outside with mixing bowls and fight until justice is served.
Clean Monday Flour War - Galaxidi, Greece
Like Ibi’s holiday havoc, flour gets flung in Greece every winter. But here in Galaxidi, you'll need bottles and bottles of bleach to salvage your wardrobe afterward. Picture The Color Run, only everyone’s trying to attack each other.
The weaponry used in Galaxidi’s flour feud is dyed every color of the rainbow, so it's not going to easily wash out of your clothes...or the streets. Tarps go up to protect the small town's historic buildings from an unwanted dyeing. Goggles, surgical masks and tightly fastened hoods are necessary gear to keep Galaxidi's guerrillas safe.
Fighters deploy about 3,000 lbs. of flour on Clean Monday. Be glad you aren't part of the cleanup crew after this battle because the Clean Monday Flour War is anything but clean.