Remembering BBC's Epic April Fools' Day Spaghetti Prank
Image via YouTube
Despite the best wishes of carb lovers, spaghetti doesn’t just grow on trees.
April Fools’ Day is that special moment of the year when everyone closely scrutinizes every last story off the Internet. It would be nice if we were all that cynical about what we see on a daily basis. Heck, this is a problem that goes back well before the advent of the Interwebs.
Reddit reminds us on this day of a hilarious BBC prank that would live in the April Fools’ Hall of Fame if there were such a thing.
It centers on one country’s misunderstanding of another’s delicious culinary culture. In the following video, a narrator takes the audience on a tour of Ticino, which resides on the border of Switzerland and Italy.
It also happens to be the spot where a bumper crop of fiction takes place:
The MySwitzerland YouTube channel explains: “The spaghetti tree hoax is a famous 3-minute hoax report broadcast on April Fools' Day 1957 by the BBC current affairs programme Panorama. It told a tale of a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the fictitious spaghetti tree, broadcast at a time when this Italian dish was not widely eaten in the UK and some Britons were unaware that spaghetti is a pasta made from wheat flour and water. Hundreds of viewers phoned into the BBC, either to say the story was not true, or wondering about it, with some even asking how to grow their own spaghetti trees.”
The description continues, “Decades later CNN called this broadcast ‘the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled.’”
The respect for this very simple and fairly ridiculous prank continues. National Geographic considers it one of history’s more outrageous pranks and BBC News pats its own back with a query: “Is this the best April Fools’ ever?”
Editor Michael Peacock offered a great anecdote on the 1957 joke in a video posted to BBC News: “I learned that the director general had said to his wife, ‘I didn’t know spaghetti grew on trees.’”
When the director went for an encyclopedia, Peacock states that she proclaimed “Don’t be a fool. Of course it doesn’t.”
So the adage "Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see" is alive and well, doubly so on April 1.
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