As It Happens

Every year, A Christmas Story inspires kids to lick poles 'to see if it really works,' says actor

Actor Scott Schwartz once said that his iconic scene in A Christmas Story inspires new children every year to lick frozen metal poles — and 2018 is no exception.

Scott Schwartz told CBC in 2013 he gets 'at least one or two' calls a year about kids stuck to poles

In the 1983 holiday cult classic A Christmas Story, a kid named Flick, portrayed by actor Scott Schwartz, gets his tongue stuck to a frozen pole after being triple-dog dared to lick it. (MGM/UA Entertainment)


Actor Scott Schwartz once said that his iconic scene in A Christmas Story inspires new children every year to lick frozen metal poles — and 2018 is no exception. 

Spencer Kline, 11, who lost a few taste buds after getting his tongue stuck to a pole near Chicago on Tuesday, told the Beacon News he was "inspired" by the scene in the 1985 holiday cult classic in which a boy named Flick licks a pole in the dead of winter on a triple-dog dare.

Schwartz spoke to As It Happens in 2013 to commemorate the unveiling of a statue in Hammond, Ill., that immortalized the moment his character got stuck. 

"I normally get a call, at least one or two every year from the midwest — be it Chicago, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Wyoming — and they say, 'Hey, a kid stuck his tongue to the pole, do you want to give a comment?'" the actor told As It Happens host Carol Off at the time.

Actor Scott Schwartz is pictured here on Nov, 2, 2011, at a movie premiere in Hollywood. ( Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

The scene functions as more of a warning than an invitation to imitate, with Flick screeching out in agony after becoming stuck to the pole.

But that doesn't stop kids from trying, Schwartz said.

"The intelligence of nine-, 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds is not exactly that of an adult," he said. "So they still have to see if it really works."

How the scene was filmed

The actor also pulled back the curtain on how the famous scene was filmed.

"There actually is a real pole there, but they put a piece of plastic over it that they painted to make it look like it was real," he said.

"And they put a little hole in it about the size of your pinky nail, with a little tube, and then at the bottom of the tube in the snow was a vacuum motor."

The whole scene took two nearly 12-hour shoots to film, he said — but Schwartz said his own tongue remained unharmed. 

"Every time they say 'cut', I can pull away."

After Tuesday's incident, the Beacon News says Kline was treated and released that same night. His tongue is expected to make a full recovery. 

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Produced by Imogen Birchard.


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