A brief history of throwing food and drink on people as protest

Throughout history, the act of throwing food and drink as a form of protest has been a symbolic and often controversial expression of discontent. While it may seem like a peculiar method of dissent, this unconventional protest tactic has deep historical roots and has been employed by various groups to convey dissatisfaction with authority, injustice, or societal issues. This article will explore the evolution of this unique form of protest over the centuries.

Ancient Origins:

The roots of throwing food and drink as a protest tactic can be traced back to ancient times. In ancient Rome, for example, disgruntled citizens would sometimes pelt public officials with food to express their grievances. This act served as a powerful visual representation of discontent, as food was not only a basic necessity but also a symbol of societal well-being.

Medieval Europe:

During the Middle Ages in Europe, instances of food and drink being thrown in protest were documented. In some cases, rebellious peasants would use their limited resources to hurl food at tax collectors or feudal lords, expressing their frustration with oppressive taxation and socio-economic inequality. This practice, though sporadic, highlighted the desperation and anger felt by marginalized communities.

Colonial America:

As discontent grew in the American colonies leading up to the Revolutionary War, colonists adopted creative methods to voice their opposition to British rule. One notable incident occurred in 1774 when the Sons of Liberty protested the Tea Act by dumping chests of tea into Boston Harbor—an event famously known as the Boston Tea Party. While not a direct act of throwing food at individuals, the destruction of a valuable commodity sent a clear message of defiance against unjust taxation.

20th Century Revival:

The 20th century witnessed a resurgence of food and drink throwing as a protest tactic. During the suffrage movement, women advocating for the right to vote would use unconventional methods to gain attention. In 1913, suffragette Mary Richardson famously threw a hatchet at a painting in the National Gallery, while others resorted to pelting eggs and vegetables at public figures to draw attention to their cause.

Civil Rights Era:

The Civil Rights Movement in the United States saw the creative use of food as a means of protest. African American activists employed “sit-ins” at segregated establishments, where they were often met with violence and verbal abuse. In response, some activists would throw food and drinks back at their aggressors, turning the tables on those who sought to deny them their basic rights.

Contemporary Expressions:

In more recent times, throwing food and drink as a form of protest has become a global phenomenon. From pies thrown at politicians during press conferences to yogurt being hurled in protest of economic policies, individuals and groups continue to use this unconventional method to express their discontent.


The act of throwing food and drink as a protest has evolved over the centuries, from ancient Rome to contemporary global demonstrations. While seemingly unconventional, this form of dissent has been employed by various movements and individuals to visually and symbolically convey their discontent with authority, injustice, and societal issues. Whether it’s a response to oppressive taxation, racial segregation, or economic policies, the act of throwing food and drink remains a powerful and attention-grabbing method of protest in the tapestry of human history.

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