One of the great hoaxes ever pulled by a national broadcaster was pulled by the BBC’s Panorama programme on April Fool’s Day, 1957.
The short piece followed a family in Ticino, Switzerland, and talked in detail about their spaghetti farm, including images of the spaghetti being harvested from the trees. The piece mentioned that the farm was benefiting from a mild winter, and from the disappearance of the dreaded ‘spaghetti weevil’ from the area.
To be fair, most British families were only dimly aware of pasta, which had yet to become the feature of our cooking that it is today, and they certainly wouldn’t have known how it was actually made. And, to be even fairer, the BBC even used the highly respected and serious Richard Dimbleby to front the piece, and to give it credibility. Far from being appalled at the frivolous use of his talents, Dimbleby thought the whole thing was hysterical, and went along with the prank cheerfully.
The entire nation was taken in by this 3 minute April Fool that had cost under £100 to make. About 8 million people watched it, and the BBC switch board was inundated by requests for advice on spaghetti cultivation and even where they could buy the seeds. Apparently the BBC answered most of them by suggesting that they simply shoved a sprig of spaghetti into a tin of tomato sauce, and hoped for the best.
Enjoy the little piece now by following the Link – YouTube
These days, of course, we are far too clever and knowledgeable about pasta to fall for a ruse like that. So possibly now is the time to create your own spaghetti farm with this beautiful Pasta Maker from Dexam.