‘The Help’: What That Infamous Pie Was Really Made Of

We can name plenty of gross food scenes from movies — from the hairy pizza that Zack made a bully “hoover” in She’s All That to Buddy’s pasta breakfast in Elf. But few compare to the poop-filled pie that was snuck on a character in The Help.

No, it wasn’t real, but that didn’t make it any less disturbing for some of the actors. Here’s what was really in the pie in The Help and how one actor felt about that infamous scene.

Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer
Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer on the red carpet at a movie premiere in August 2011 in Beverly Hills, California | Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

‘The Help’ was a box office success

Based on a book of the same name, The Help tells the story of Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, an aspiring journalist who decides in the ’60s to write a book on Black caretakers and their experiences working for white families. Emma Stone is the lead character, but the movie also features Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, among others.

The Help released in 2011, drawing mixed reviews, over $200 million at the global box office, and award recognition. However, retrospective analysis has been more negative, with many people accusing the film of peddling “white savior” tropes.

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‘The Help’ features 1 really gross scene

There’s one scene in The Help that ScreenRant once called “cinema’s classiest gross out gag.” It comes after Minny Jackson, the maid played by Spencer, is unjustly fired by Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard).

In what seems to be a kind-hearted gesture, Minny makes Hilly her famous chocolate pie. She allows Hilly to take several bites before revealing that she mixed some of her excrement into it, leaving Hilly sick, gagging, and scrambling out of the room.

Octavia Spencer at an event
Octavia Spencer at an event in October 2011 in Los Angeles, California | Toby Canham/Getty Images

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The truth about the pie in ‘The Help’

As film property master Chris Ubick once told Entertainment Weekly: “We made our beautiful, beautiful pie with sugar and butter and all that sort of stuff and put it on the table. Then, we switched it out for a pie that didn’t have any sugar in it for [Howard].”

“It was a very big slight of hand scene so that she could eat lots of pie and not feel like she’s been eating so much sugar,” Ubick added.

Despite using a regular chocolate pie in the film, Spencer told Jess Cagle in 2016 that it was still difficult to shoot the scene.

“It was hard because as a person, that is the last thing I would ever want to do, to do anything to anybody’s food,” she said. “But to somebody that awful, that mean, that hateful, it is the best revenge and the most fun I’ve ever had in any given moment on a set.”

But at the same time, she admitted that her opinion on the dessert is forever changed by that scene. “I’ve gotta tell you, I don’t look at chocolate pie the same way. I can’t,” she said. “I do still send them out as gifts … But I don’t make them.”

Cagle laughed along, telling Spencer, “I so don’t look at chocolate pie the same. The last thing I would do is eat a chocolate pie from you. I’m sorry.”