Relive the historic pie attack Alice Cooper called "one of the greatest moments of my life"

Alice Cooper on the Soupy Sales show
(Image credit: KTLA)

When talk turns to the bright lights of the Detroit music scene, some names are rendered in vivid neon: Iggy PopThe MC5, Ted Nugent. Bob SegerThe White Stripes. And, of course, Alice Cooper, godfather of shock rock and founding Hollywood Vampire. 

Another Detroit legend? Soupy Sales, host of the anarchic kids' TV show Lunch with Soupy Sales, a man who famously encouraged children to send him any "funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. presidents" their parents might have lying around, and ended up receiving thousands of dollars in the post. 

When Sales died in 2009, Cooper released a short statement through his publicist, Bob Merlis. "Being from Detroit, I came home every day and watched Soupy at lunch," said Alice. "One of the greatest moments of my life was getting piefaced by Soupy. He was one of my all-time heroes."

Being piefaced by Soupy Sales was a long-running television tradition, with Sales and his guests being served creamy pie justice an estimated 20,000 times from the 1950s onwards. Victims included rat packers Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis, while Alice Cooper's turn took place in 1979, after the show had relocated from Detroit to the studios of KTLA in Los Angeles.

It's a bizarre sketch, featuring a huge puppet called Black Tooth, otherwise known as the "biggest and sweetest dog in the USA", who remains mostly offscreen. There's also a spider, who plays a tiny piano and sings in the squeakiest of voices, and Alice Cooper, who comes armed with a $10,000 contract to put the talented bug in his show. Events take a distinct turn for the worse when another mostly-offscreen puppet (White Fang, the "biggest and meanest dog in the USA") arrives with a hammer. 

Incidentally, Soupy Sales's connections to the world of music didn't begin and end with Cooper. His sons, Tony Fox Sales and Hunt Sales, were both members of Iggy Pop's band on the classic albums Kill City and Lust For Life, as well as backing Todd Rundgren on Runt, Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren and "Something/Anything?" 

They also worked with David Bowie on the two Tin Machine studio albums, but weren't in awe of the man. "Soupy Sales was my father and I grew up with that kind of celebrity," Tony Sales told Spin in 1989. "There were kids sleeping outside my house 24 hours a day."

And their father? "I'll probably be remembered for the pies," he once said. "And that's all right."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.