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That time Google employees went to war over pie

A Google store in London.A Google store in London.
A Google store in London.Photograph by Philip Toscano — PA Wire/AP

The most intense argument in the history of Google wasn’t about business strategy, corporate leadership or even Google Glass. It was about pie.

Yes pie, as in the flaky, buttery dessert you make when you want to impress your dinner guests.

Apparently, Google’s Mountain View, Calif. headquarter’s cafeteria offered a pie in 2008 called “Free Tibet Goji-Chocolate Crème Pie,” according to the Wall Street Journal. This perturbed one Google employee, who wrote in an email to company executive Larry Page that if he didn’t get some explanation he would “quit in protest.”

The email wound up going company-wide, with the number of replies quickly moving past 100.

From the Journal:

The thread bounced back and forth across the globe, between Google’s many international offices, several of which are in mainland China. Some engineers were incensed that Google would imply that Tibet should be free, even in the name of a menu item. Others took the opposite stance. Yet others worried that this was an issue of free speech — if a chef couldn’t name a pie as he pleased, what kind of talk would be regulated at Google next?

Some simply wondered why there was so much fuss over the name of a pie.

The story comes from a new book by Google’s head of human resources, Laszlo Bock.

Correction, April 1, 2015: The original version misstated the sender of the email; it was an unspecified Google employee.