Food in Defense of a Crime

Last year, throwing hot coffee in the face of a store clerk was a new robbery tactic. Now, we have a Pizza Hut delivery man throwing a hot pie in the face of a would-be (armed) mugger.

Posted on December 22, 2008 at 6:16 AM • 29 Comments


Will in LondonDecember 22, 2008 7:10 AM


Anyone familiar with the Courts in CA care to say what punishment the robber(s) might expect? Taking an age of a) 17, alternatively 18) w no previous record, if light on facts. Loved the tale and sorry to put a serious spin but just curious.

John HritzDecember 22, 2008 7:29 AM

Sounds like we're teaching people to improvise instead of relying on static security methods. Not sure whether shoes count as improvisation.

a traveller December 22, 2008 9:05 AM

No more hot(ish) food on airplanes or at the airport. No restaurants or home delivery in cities having an airport.

bobDecember 22, 2008 9:10 AM

Hmmm. Pizza Hut already bans their drivers from carrying conventional weapons , I wonder if now they will ban them from carrying pizzas?

John WatersDecember 22, 2008 9:42 AM

Someone needs to get the VPC folks on this right away, this darn pizza-violence has gone on for entirely too long.

Jurgen VoorneveldDecember 22, 2008 10:35 AM

This isn't really a new tactic just a new weapon. The tactic is simply to grab whatever you want without regard for any alarms that would go off as a result and then disabling/overpowering whoever comes to protect the valuables. The only thing you need is a good force multiplier.
New here is the realization that weapons don't need to be all that powerful to be effective, a gun is simply overkill.

JasonDecember 22, 2008 10:51 AM

Fifteen years ago, I worked in pizza. I still have a few small scars on my fingers from a pizza that flipped and draped over my hand right out of the oven. It was very painful. Hitting someone in the face with that would be effective to say the least.

J.D. AbolinsDecember 22, 2008 10:58 AM

Hot pizza fresh out of the oven can be quite nasty (but quite tasty under better circumstances).

There was an interesting essay on the thermodynamics of pizza layers back a few years ago. The concepts form that essay can be seen in the presentation at

Military grade pizza theremal weapons?

In a different food related crime case, there was an armed robbery case where the "weapon" was a zucchini (courgette). The sqash was hidden in the defendant's pocket and, allegedly, he had convinced the victim that it was a pistol. This case had to go through at least four trails because of problems with the juries. Reportedly, the problem was the zucchini references, there were too funny to be taken seriously.

“It’s preposterous. Their judgment has been warped by a zucchini,” fumed lawyer Steven Silberblat. “It’s time to move on to other vegetables.”

On to another veggie weapon, maybe a killer tomato.

Ref> “It’s preposterous. Their judgment has been warped by a zucchini,” fumed lawyer Steven Silberblat. “It’s time to move on to other vegetables.”

RickDecember 22, 2008 11:24 AM hit this one on the head. You need a permit to buy a gun, but they'll sell an oven to anybody!

SkorjDecember 22, 2008 12:37 PM

It's a bit ridiculous for a pizza delivery driver to fight back against a robbery in the first place. I delivered pizza for many years, and was the victim of any number of crimes, and the risk/reward just isn't there for defending yourself if the delivery turns out to be a mugging.

At least, in the cases where I was robbed, the robbers were happy to get the cash I used to make change, and didn't even ask me for my wallet. Of course, that was back when crack cocain was still big, and the robbers were clearly looking for $20 to buy a rock (and sometimes said as much).

Of course, if the robbers weren't armed and were so stupid that they attacked before just asking for the money, a hot pizza's is a great weapon.

bobDecember 22, 2008 1:19 PM

Back when I delivered pizza (think Jimmy Carter) I was too young to purchase a handgun, but numerous other drivers carried them. I was never threatened, although once when delivering in a "dangerous" area I was offered marijuana in exchange for the pizza and due to the odd behavior of the individuals in question I at first thought I was being threatened.

On the other hand, once I was invited in by a pretty lady to help her eat the pizza with an implied quid pro quo [AIDS was unheard of back then. Also, I was apparently better looking back then]. I still today think wistfully on that lost opportunity when I pass that apartment building. I guess it all averages out.

bobDecember 22, 2008 1:54 PM

@Skorj: "...if the delivery turns out to be a mugging..."

What if it the delivery turns out to be a murder? Maiming? Carjacking? Merely vicious beating?

The problem is you have committed yourself to not fight BEFORE you find out what you came to. IMnHO I would prefer to defend myself rather than rely on the good intentions and beneficent nature of someone who commits violent crimes.

Petréa MitchellDecember 22, 2008 2:06 PM

@J. D. Abolins:

I believe that thermodynamic analysis of pizza was lifted from one of Henry Petroski's books. (Can't remember which one, since I read it probably more than 15 years ago. It may have been "Beyond Engineering".)

SkorjDecember 22, 2008 4:25 PM


In the absence of other information, I agree. However, the situation was usually pretty obvious. Robbery was common where I was, and if a robber got the drop on you, it was just silly to fight back rahter than handing over the store's money.

Far healthier fo delivery drivers if the expectation is that the driver won't resist! The alternative is just to attack the driver from behind, and only take his money after the violence (and that did happen from time to time).

Also, I'm not sure how useful carrying a gun would have been, in general. When the door opens and there's a guy with a shotgun leveled at you, what good exactly does that gu in your pants do you? Or more commonly, you knock at the door, wait, and a voice behind you advises you not to turn around. Take the risk on how he might be armed, or part with some pocket change?

There's good reason that every pizza chain makes it their official policy for drivers to cooperate with muggers. It costs less in the long run.

KCinDCDecember 22, 2008 5:32 PM

While the idea that the driver hit the robber in face with scalding cheese is appealing as a story, it doesn't seem very realistic. Did he unzip the insulating bag, open the cardboard box, and then throw the pizza, all while the gun was on him? It seems more likely that he just threw the pizza, complete with containers, at the robber as a distraction while he took off running.

John WatersDecember 23, 2008 1:11 AM

Rick: I don't know where you live (Chicago?) but in Philadelphia and the bulk of the USA permits are not needed to buy guns, only to carry them (concealed).

deanoDecember 23, 2008 3:51 AM

when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie thats amore.....

Perhaps its was a wedding proposal that went wrong..

Petréa MitchellDecember 23, 2008 10:44 AM

Okay, yeah, it could be the Morowitz book. The table of contents looks vaguely familiar. I gotta find a copy and read it again...



BitsyDecember 23, 2008 11:55 AM

I don't blame the pizza driver one bit for fighting back-- according to the story his attacker was trying to force him into a house. It is one thing if someone is just trying to hold you up, but if they are trying to get you to go somewhere secluded, that rarely ends well.

let them eat cheesewhizDecember 28, 2008 10:50 PM

yeah.. exactly... "when whipcream pies (or shoes) are outlawed, only outlaws will have,,,"
but really, i'd think that eating (some) pizza is deadly enough...

Hal O'BrienDecember 29, 2008 10:01 AM

bob at December 22, 2008 9:10 AM: "...ban them from carrying pizzas?"

Since it's Pizza Hut, they already *do* ban drivers from carrying pizzas. Or at least, items edibly recognizable as such.

Humberto MassaDecember 29, 2008 3:43 PM

My father burned a mugger with some _really_ hot beans once. He went to the restaurant, got the takeout and the guy tried to get his wallet from his hand. He pushed the food to the guy's chest, the mugger went away crying "it burns!!"...

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.