“Pieing” – the act of throwing a pie at a person – has been a mainstay of slapstick comedy since the early days of silent films, inspired by the antics of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, and The Three Stooges. In 1968, Hasbro got in on the act with the release of the Pie Face Game, a cream-pie variant of Russian roulette.
Marketing materials billed the game as “the most fun-filled action game you’ve ever played!” and “the goofiest, funniest, suspense game.” Of course, these statements rang true only if your idea of fun was (like mine) the prospect of seeing someone else get a face full of pie.
Designed by Marvin Glass & Associates, the game came equipped with a spinner, mask, score sheet, sponge, and pie-thrower. The centrepiece of the game was a 15-½” tall cardboard target with a cut-out window for faces that made players look like clowns
As you might expect, gameplay was straight-forward. To start, the pie thrower was reset and the sponge loaded with water or whipped cream then placed on the thrower. Players took turns donning the protective mask and putting their heads in the cardboard target. Next, they spun the spinner, which settled on a number that determined how times the pie thrower’s “mystery handle” should be turned. If, after turning the handle, the player did not get a pie in the face, they scored the number of points spun.
For the longest time, Pie Face was a mere flash in the (pie) pan – an odd remnant of gaming history and a rare vintage game for collectors to find intact and in good shape.
But, in 2015, a viral YouTube video of an updated version of the game issued by the Rocket Games company made Pie Face a holiday hit. Hasbro acquired the rights to the game and continues to market new versions of the game to this day.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.