spaghetti-tree

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April 1st 1957: ‘Spaghetti tree hoax’

On this day in 1957 for April Fools’ Day, the BBC current affairs programme Panorama broadcast a story about spaghetti trees. The piece told of a Swiss family who harvested spaghetti from a tree, and it was widely believed as spaghetti was not well known in Britain at the time. Many also considered it credible as the voice-over was done by the respected broadcaster Richard Dimbleby. Hundreds of people wrote to the BBC to ask how to grow their own spaghetti tree to which the BBC replied: “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best”.

(watch the broadcast here)

This is an image from the BBC programme Panorama, which used its position as a news program to trick its viewers into believing that there were trees in Switzerland that grew spaghetti. It was an April Fools Day prank but it was identically to any other real BBC news footage. A direct lineage from this sort of form-based prank can be traced from this to the video of human-bird wings we watched in class today.

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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. Decades later CNN called this broadcast “the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled.” (x)(x)

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BBC: Spaghetti Tree


I think now we can do the same with hamburgers.

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Best April Fools ever? Gogo BBC!!