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The Truth About The Pie-Eating Scene In Stand By Me

Based on Stephen King's novella The Body (originally published as part of the collection Different Seasons), Stand By Me runs on a very simple premise: Four young friends overhear that a missing local boy's body has been discovered, and they want to see it for themselves. That's it. King is best known for his horror and supernatural leanings, but this one is as grounded as it gets. The story hinges on the boys' relationships, and their willingness to go through with the (mis)adventure — nothing more, nothing less.

One night, after the boys set up a fire for themselves, they convince Gordie (Wil Wheaton) to entertain them with a story to take their minds off nearly getting flattened by a train earlier that day. He wants to be a writer when he grows up, so he's no stranger to spinning a good yarn. Vern (Jerry O'Connell) insists that Gordie skirt the horror genre as a whole (a mocking knock at King, maybe?), but Gordie's already got another story in mind: a revenge tale about an obese kid named Davie Hogan, a.k.a. "Lardass" Hogan (Andy Lindberg).

Let the pie fly

As Gordie unravels the tale, the film brings the characters to life, shifting away from the bonfire to the pie-eating contest Hogan attends. It's made abundantly clear that Hogan is the underdog. He doesn't care, though, because he's already prepared to enact revenge on all those bullies mocking him from the stands. Before the contest began, he downed an entire bottle of castor oil and a raw egg. During the contest, as Gordie says, "He pretended he was eating cow flops and rat guts in blueberry sauce." And then, after a stomach rumble rivaling "a log truck coming at you at 100 miles per hour ... " Hogan chucks up everything in a contestant's face. This causes a chain reaction, which Gordie dubs "a complete and total barf-o-rama" throughout the crowd, which Hogan enjoys from the comfort of his chair on stage.

Without a doubt, it's the most special effects-heavy scene in all of Stand By Me — long before CGI became the standard. So how was it done? According to director Rob Reiner and Hogan actor Andy Lindberg in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, it took a bit of trial and error to get the projectile vomit to look right (via Screen Rant). The repulsive-looking stuff was made of large-curd cottage cheese mixed with blueberry pie filling, and that secret formula was kept throughout the process. The real problem came in figuring out how to shoot the "vomit" from the tube taped to the side of Lindberg's face.

The film crew's first solution was to use a power washer, but as Lindberg notes, "The stream was too fine." After the castor oil and raw egg, audiences would obviously be expecting something a little more ... visceral. A new method was needed — something more powerful. So, the power washer was ditched for no less than five crewmen slamming down on a plunger attached to a cylinder full of the mixture, resulting in the bombastic regurgitation that made it into the film.

Shot in Brownsville, Oregon, Reiner remarked that the town's residents honor the pie-eating scene every year: "They show the movie and have a pie eating contest" of their own — sans projectile vomit. It's a great tradition to keep, no matter how disgusting the memory it's based on.