63 AD: Vespasian, Roman governor of the African Province, is pelted with turnips during a riot. He would become emperor six years later.
13th Century to 18th Century: Criminals are hit with rotten vegetables and horse feces while locked into a pillory, a form of corporal punishment that later evolved into the whipping post. After being sentenced to this for seditious libel in 1703 for publishing the satirical pamphlet “The Shortest Way with the Dissenters,” Daniel Defoe is instead showered with roses by the crowd in a show of support. Delaware would become the last U.S. state to abolish the whipping post in 1972.
1774: During service, a rock crashes through a window, missing Universalist Church Founder John Murray in Boston, Massachusetts. He is quoted as saying after the incident, “Not all the stones in Boston, except they [that] stop my breath, shall shut my mouth or arrest my testimony.” Pavement vocalist Stephen Malkmus would prove less patient when struck in the chest by one during a 1995 performance in West Virginia.
1883: In the first modern record of such an activity, The New York Times reports on a play in a Long Island theater where audience members, displeased with the work, threw rotten tomatoes at actor John Ritchie during his stage debut. Despite assumptions that tomatoes were thrown at Shakespearean actors in the Elizabethan Theatre, the fruit is uncommon in England until 1752.
Early 20th Century: During a campaign stop, a cabbage is thrown at President William Howard Taft, landing at his feet. The rotund Taft quips, “I see one of my adversaries has lost his head.”
1922: The Marx Brothers take their comedy routines to Great Britain, where during a London performance the group is pelted with pennies by the audience. Groucho collects the coins and adlibs, “We came all the way from America to entertain you, so you might at least throw some shillings.” The line wins over the crowd.
1969: A live chicken is thrown onto the stage during an Alice Cooper show. Cooper supposedly throws the chicken back into the audience, where it is torn apart by fans, but the media reports it as Cooper biting the head off the animal.
1971: Artist Chris Burden is shot in the arm by an assistant with a .22 rifle for a performance piece appropriately titled “Shoot” in a Santa Ana, California gallery.
1977: In one of their earliest performances, hardcore punk band Black Flag plays a Manhattan Beach Parks Department picnic at Pollywog Park in place of the Air Force Big Band, where bassist Chuck Dukowski eats one of the sandwiches thrown at them. The band would go on to be hit with multiple objects in their years of touring, including spit and bottles.
1982: An M-80 is thrown from the crowd, detonating near Joe Strummer as The Clash plays through an encore set during a concert at the Asbury Park Convention Center in New Jersey. The encore is cut short immediately after.
1996: Foo Fighters’ front-man Dave Grohl publicly asks fans to stop throwing Mentos candies at them during performances after the band’s song “Big Me” obtains crossover popularity thanks in part to the video which parodies the product’s commercials at the time. The band does not play the song live for another 10 years until their tour with Weezer.
1996: After turning “heel” at the WCW’s Bash at the Beach, once-loved professional wrestler Hulk Hogan is met with garbage thrown by attendees while in the ring.
2004: Dubbed “Malice at the Palice” by the press, Pacers basketball player Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace) is struck by a bottle of Diet Coke thrown by fan John Green. Artest mistakenly goes after the fan next to him.
2006: Progressive rock band The Mars Volta’s lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala offers a bounty of “$100 to $1,000 to somebody to find the person that's throwing urine up here” after several bottles of it were launched onstage. Bixler-Zavala is also quoted as saying “Find that person and kick his ass for me, bring me his head — and we'll be friends!"
2008: During a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Palace in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi throws both of his shoes at President George W. Bush. The incident makes him known world-wide. Within a week, the shoe’s manufacturer receives up to 300,000 orders for the model worn by al-Zaidi.
2009: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is struck in the face by a statuette of a cathedral in Milan during a rally. Berlusconi suffers a fractured nose and two broken teeth as a result.
Eric Nelson is a fiction writer and critic living in Queens, New York. He is the author of The Walt Whitman House and The Silk City Series. His E.P. of recorded stories, They Make a Wasteland, They Call It Pastiche, is out now from Diabetic Koala.
KEEP READING: More on History