Biotic Baking Brigade 101: If The People Pie, The Leaders Will Swallow

Over the last two years, members of the Biotic Baking Brigade have
flung lovingly-baked organic pies into the faces of some of the
world’s most powerful people, from Bill Gates to Milton Friedman.
They call it ‘pie-rect action’. Paul Kingsnorth asks Special Agent
Apple, one of the BBB’s leading lights, what he thinks he’s playing

Over the last two years, members of the Biotic Baking Brigade have
flung lovingly-baked organic pies into the faces of some of the
world’s most powerful people, from Bill Gates to Milton Friedman.
They call it ‘pie-rect action’. Paul Kingsnorth asks Special Agent
Apple, one of the BBB’s leading lights, what he thinks he’s playing

Agent Apple lives, sleeps and breathes pastry. He believes
that pies could change the world, and in this belief he is not alone.
Apple (his real identity is a closely-guarded secret) is a
founder member of the Biotic Baking Brigade (BBB), one of the most
passionate, original and, frankly, bizarre bands of radical activists
around. If you haven’t heard of them yet, it probably won’t be long.
The Global Pastry Uprising is snowballing at surprising speed.

Just Desserts

The BBB describes itself as “an underground network of militant
bakers who deliver just desserts to those in power.” Their philosophy
is simple. They believe that the future of the planet is threatened
by a worldview that puts profit, trade and share values above life
itself. And instead of waiting for politicians, bureaucrats and
self-styled ‘NGO leaders’ to tackle this problem, they have decided
to take it on themselves – with pastry custard and cream. And so,
they publicly throw pies – homebaked, vegan, organic pies, mind –
into the faces of people they identify as powerful, unaccountable and
responsible for crimes against the planet. They stand against
“industrial society in all its forms; against neoliberalism and
technocracy, and against corporate crooks and their allies in
government.” They stand for “ecology, bioregionalism, human-scale
economies – and proper gastronomics.”

Apple is one of their most active voices, and he is a perfect
frontman. Affable, intelligent and very, well, sensible-looking, you
could pass him in the street and never imagine you’d come into
contact with a member of an underground movement that is fast
becoming legendary – probably the least violent and most entertaining
revolutionary faction in history. Only the passionate light in his
eyes when he talks about the ‘New World Order’ betrays his true

“We live in a terrifying time,” he says. “We’re on the verge
of ecological collapse, social structures are disintegrating, fascism
– and I don’t use that term lightly – is on the rise, dissent is
being criminalised.” Meanwhile, he says, the “traditional Left,”
which should be in the vanguard of opposition, “has become a boring,
bureaucratic, unproductive movement. We want to draw attention to
these problems in a way that makes people sit up and listen.”

Why Pie?

This all sounds fair enough. But the obvious question arises: why
pies? How is chucking flans around supposed to change anything?

“Actually, we have found that the pie is a tremendous vehicle
to communicate about issues that otherwise wouldn’t get an airing in
the mainstream media,” says Apple, enthusiastically. “It’s a chink in
their armour. For example, one of the BBB’s first actions was the
pieing of Milton Friedman [the free market economics guru who
inspired the 1980s generation of right-wing politicians, including
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan], in October 1998. He was at a
conference discussing how to privatise American education – how to
take this minimal concession to ordinary working people, state
education, and hand it over to corporations like Pepsi and Channel
One. There was a huge picket outside – hundreds of people with
placards, shouting slogans – and the media didn’t even cover it. But
we got in, delivered one well-placed coconut creme pie, and we were
all over the media, talking about the impact of his neo-liberalism on
the world.”

Friedman was one of the BBB’s first hits. Another was Bill
Gates, the world’s richest man, who was flanned in late 1997.
Monsanto boss Robert Shapiro was next, pied in a conference hall
after delivering one of his notorious speeches about feeding the
world with genetically-modified crops. The London-based PIE (People
Insurgent Everywhere) pied the then head of the World Trade
Organisation, Renato Ruggiero. Just a week later. “Only 4% of people
in the UK had even heard of the WTO before Ruggiero was pied,” says
Apple now. “That incident put a name and face to a destructive
organisation that had been largely secret.” From then on, it was

Speaking Pie to Power

The rapidly-expanding list of pie victims includes Keith Campbell,
the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep; Charles Hurwitz, boss of
Pacific Lumber, which is clearcutting forests in the Headwaters area
of California where the BBB are based; Canadian Health Minister Allan
Rock, responsible for allowing GM foods into the country; film star
Sylvester Stallone, pied at the opening of one of his ‘Planet
Hollywood’ restaurants in Montreal; Kenneth Derr, head of Chevron
oil, accused of colluding with Nigeria’s military regime; and several
US mayors, including the Mayor of San Francisco, ‘Slick’ Willie
Brown, who had the three BBB members who flanned him (the ‘Cherry Pie
Three’) arrested and ultimately imprisoned for six months.

More controversially, the BBB have also flanned Carl Pope,
head of the US conservation group the Sierra Club, for doing a deal
with Pacific Lumber which saw them accused of ‘selling out’ the
forests. “It may seem controversial,” says Agent Apple, “but Pope
represents one of the most dangerous threats to the environment –
these kind-of backdoor salesmen, calling themselves
environmentalists, who are doing deals with corporations and selling
out our work from within.” Mostly, though, it is corporate
executives who are pied. “It’s our firm belief,” says Apple, firmly,
“that right now politicians and governments are mostly vehicles
through which corporations can achieve their ends. These executives
make decisions that affect billions of people, yet who’s ever heard
of them? We have to drag them into the light.”


The BBB is inspired by a well-whipped mix of anarchy and silent
comedy. Two figures in particular motivated Apple to start baking.
One is Noel Godin, the Belgian anarchist head of the International
Patisserie Brigade, who has been pieing famous figures since the
1970s. He has three criteria by which he selects his victims: they
should be powerful, self-important and lacking in humour. Apple’s
other guiding light is ‘American Pieman’ Aron Kay, who once pied Andy

But the roots of pieing, he says, go back further than this.
“Pieing can be traced back to court jesters,” says Apple. “Part of
their role was to humiliate royalty or powerful people. There’s
always been something tremendously powerful about getting people to
laugh. It’s a way of engaging them in something they might otherwise
have ignored.”

Flan-archy in the UK

Apple and the BBB talk about pieing in almost Messianic terms. They
see it as a natural development of resistance. “Pieing doesn’t
replace other forms of action,” says Apple, “but it is a new creative
tool in a toolbox of resistance to corporate crime.” It is catching
on so fast, he says (there have been at least 60 verifiable pieing
incidents around the world over the last two years, and a global
flurry of interest from South Africa to Chile to Australia to Burma)
because opponents of the current system are disillusioned with
traditional channels of dissent.

“People are sick to death of writing letters, voting,
complaining and just being ignored,” he says. “But I think they’re
also sick to death of boring old lefty politics – boring demos,
boring speakers. A lot of the left is bankrupt. If you’re a
traditional quote-unquote ‘leftist’ your only option is to join a
party, some kind of regime, where people think for you, take action
for you, tell you what to do – that’s a tremendously disempowering
experience. We’re kind of post-leftist. We want to provoke thought,
and get people doing things for themselves again.”

This is important to the BBB. They describe themselves as
“pie-throwing anarchists” and their movement is a model of
self-reliance. “What corporations and governments have done,” says
Apple, “is broken our legs, then given us a crutch to walk on. But
instead of appealing to our corporate masters to do things better, we
want to create our own world and manage our own affairs.” They want,
say the BBB simply, and probably slightly mischievously, to create
‘Ecotopia’ here on Earth.

“We believe in DIY,” says Apple. “A lot of us are farmers,
organic gardeners – we have a lot of practical skills. And, of
course, we bake all our own pies. As long as there are quality baked
goods, there is hope in this world.”

Do or Pie

Apple himself gets his kicks from secreting pies into the corridors
of power. “For me, to put on a suit, shave, go to one of these big
conferences and deliver my message in an in-your-face fashion –
that’s an incredibly powerful thing. That’s what really cranks my
chain.” But it requires planning. “It’s best to hide the pie in a
briefcase to get it in – but it needs to be a solid pie, so it’s firm
enough to hold vertical. Another method is to dress up as a waiter or
waitress. That way you can carry your pie to your victim openly, and
no-one will think anything of it.”

Apple’s commitment to his cause seems boundless. He has, he
says, been pied five times himself, and enjoyed it. He’s prepared to
do a lot in the name of the Global Pastry Uprising – even to dress up
in a chef’s outfit slightly too small for him and undergo a long
photo shoot with a melting pie in the Ecologist’s office. But he
doesn’t want people to think that any special skills or
qualifications are required. On the contrary, he says, “anyone can

“When people write to me and say ‘I want to join the BBB,’ I
say – go for it, but do it your own way. Sure, read up on what we’ve
done, but think for yourself. Cut your hair, look sharp, put on a
suit and you can go anywhere.”

The photos finally in the can, he pulls off the scarf he uses
to hide his identity from the wider world – a scarf, he says proudly,
that he got from Chiapas, home of the Zapatista rebellion which is
also one of the BBB’s inspirations. Does he have a message for
Ecologist readers and potential pie-rect activists? Of course he
does. Agent Apple is never short of a soundbite. “My message to
readers would be simple,” he says. “To adapt the slogan of a
notorious multinational – just do it! Remember – it’s better to pie
on your feet than to live on your knees.!”

Friends of the BBB: c/o POB 40130, San Francisco, CA 94140, Amerika


News Service: The Ecologist (UK), Spring 2000


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