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The original milkshake.
Nina Strehl/Unsplash
The original milkshake.
WEAPONIZED FOOD

Milkshakes have replaced eggs as the UK’s protest weapon of choice

By Youyou Zhou

Milkshakes have become a popular political tool in street protests in the UK.

Tommy Robinson, a far-right activist and independent candidate for North West England in the European parliamentary elections, was hit by a strawberry milkshake two times in two days as he campaigned in early May. That was followed by three similar incidents in three days against Carl Benjamin, a YouTuber and the prospective UK Independent Party (UKIP) candidate for South West England, after he made comments about raping a female politician and refused to apologize.

The weaponized drink became such an imminent threat this week that the Edinburgh police reportedly asked McDonald’s—where milkshake dunkers had bought their drinks in previous incidents—not to sell any milkshakes ahead of a rally for Nigel Farage, the former leader of UKIP and a prominent right-wing figure in the UK.

Rival fast-food chain Burger King, however, stepped in, seeing a gap in the market:

Milkshakes were not the UK’s food projectile of choice until recently. While other countries have used yogurt, spaghetti, and even shoes to throw at politicians, “in Britain, it will always be eggs,” The Guardian’s Chitra Ramaswamy wrote in 2015. A raw egg, sometimes a rotten one, has been the most used protesting tool in UK’s history. Farage got his egging experience five years ago, and other prominent UK politicians have fallen foul of an egg, including the former prime minister David Cameron, and former deputy prime minister John Prescott, who attempted to take a swing at his egger.

But milkshakes have a few advantages over the humble egg. The sweet drink is much easier to carry around than a raw egg, and an unhappy citizen could always drink half and pour the rest. The impact creates a larger visual effect—while an egg only has one point of contact, dripping white sticky liquid makes a splash and is more internet-friendly. The sticky imagery of a soaked political figure removes some of their seriousness as the image travels around the web, as University of Bath politics professor Ivan Gololobov told the New Statesman. Milkshakes are also safer than eggs, with less risk of the target being hospitalized after an attack.