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The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
On April 1, 1957 the British news show Panorama broadcast a three-minute segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. The success of the crop was attributed both to an unusually mild winter and to the "virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil." The audience heard Richard Dimbleby, the show's highly respected anchor, discussing the details of the spaghetti crop as they watched video footage of a Swiss family pulling pasta off spaghetti trees and placing it into baskets. The segment concluded with the assurance that, "For those who love this dish, there's nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti."

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax generated an enormous response. Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this query the BBC diplomatically replied, "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

To this day the Panorama broadcast remains one of the most famous and popular April Fool's Day hoaxes of all time. It is also believed to be the first time the medium of television was used to stage an April Fool's Day hoax.

Charles de Jaeger

Harvesting the spaghetti
A Panorama cameraman, Charles de Jaeger, came up with the idea for the spaghetti harvest hoax. De Jaeger was born in Vienna in 1911. He worked in Austria as a freelance photographer before moving to Britain during the 1930s where he worked for the film unit of General Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces. He joined the BBC in 1943.

De Jaeger had a reputation for being a practical joker. Early in his career at the BBC he was sent to the Vatican to interview the Pope. However, scheduling the interview proved difficult. Finally, he was told by a priest that "His Holiness will see you on Tuesday afternoon." De Jaeger replied, "Yes, but is he a man of his word?"

Another time de Jaeger had to buy some dungarees to protect his clothes during an assignment. He requested compensation from the BBC but was denied. The administration told him that he should have worn old clothes. A month later de Jaeger submitted an expense report in which he included £6, spent on "entertaining press officer, Mr Dungarees." De Jaeger noted, "They paid without a murmur."

The idea for the spaghetti harvest hoax grew out of a remark one of his Viennese school teachers often teasingly said to his class: "Boys, you're so stupid, you'd believe me if I told you that spaghetti grows on trees." As an adult, it occurred to de Jaeger that it would be funny to turn this remark into a visual joke for April Fool's Day. He became quite obsessed with the idea, trying a number of times to sell the idea to different bosses. But it was only in 1957 while he was working for Panorama that he found some willing accomplices.

Panorama

Richard Dimbleby
During the 1950s, only two channels were available to British viewers -- the BBC and ITV. Panorama was the BBC's flagship news program, boasting a viewership of ten million. It aired every Monday night at 8 pm, easily beating out Wagon Train, the show ITV ran against it.

Since 1955 Panorama had been anchored by Richard Dimbleby, whose authoritative, commanding presence had made him one of the most revered public figures in Britain. If Dimbleby said it, people trusted that it was true. As one of his colleagues at Panorama put it, "He had enough gravitas to float an aircraft carrier." Which is one of the reasons why the spaghetti harvest hoax fooled so many viewers. His participation lent the hoax an air of unimpeachable authority.

In 1957 April 1st fell on a Monday. De Jaeger realized this presented Panorama with a rare opportunity to include an April Fool's Day segment in its broadcast. He shared his idea with one of his colleagues, the writer David Wheeler. Wheeler loved it. So the two of them pitched the concept to Michael Peacock, Panorama's editor.

One of the selling points de Jaeger stressed was that it would be relatively cheap to produce the segment. De Jaeger was going to be on assignment in Switzerland anyway, so could combine the costs with the other project. (De Jaeger was often sent on foreign assignments because he was fluent in English, Italian, French, and German.)

Peacock was intrigued, and he decided to okay the plan. He granted them a budget of £100.

On Location
De Jaeger headed to Switzerland in March and, accompanied by a representative from the Swiss Tourist Office, scouted out a location. The weather proved problematic. It was misty and cold, and most of the trees were not in blossom. But eventually they found the perfect setting -- a hotel in Castiglione on the shore of Lake Lugano surrounded by evergreen Laurel trees.

De Jaeger obtained twenty pounds of uncooked homemade spaghetti, and began hanging it from branches to create spaghetti trees. But soon he encountered a problem. The spaghetti quickly dried out and wouldn't hang from the branches.

He tried to solve the problem by cooking the spaghetti and then hanging it, but once cooked the spaghetti became slippery and slid off the branches onto the ground. The tourist rep hit on the solution -- placing the uncooked spaghetti between damp cloths to keep it moist until it was ready to use.

With this problem solved, de Jaeger hired some local girls to hang the spaghetti in the trees. He had them wear their national costume, and then he filmed them as they climbed ladders carrying wicker baskets which they filled full of spaghetti, and then laid it out to dry in the sun.

After he had all the shots he needed of the spaghetti harvest, he prepared a spaghetti feast for his actors, which he filmed also.

The footage was rushed back to London where it was edited into a three-minute segment. Music was added to the background to provide the appropriate atmosphere. The selections chosen were "A Neapolitan Love Song" by Walter Stott and "Spring in Ravenna" by Hans May. Wheeler wrote the text that was read by Dimbleby.

The Broadcast
Michael Peacock had kept his decision to include an April Fool's Day joke in the Panorama broadcast a closely guarded secret, fearing his superiors would veto the decision. He only told his boss, Leonard Miall, at the last minute. Almost no one else at the BBC knew about it. The segment was not mentioned at all in the pre-transmission publicity handouts.

The line-up for that day's show included a long segment about Archbishop Makarios, leader of the Greek Cypriots, and a clip of the Duke of Edinburgh attending the premiere of the war film The Yangtse Incident.

The second-to-last segment was about a wine-tasting contest, and then it came time for the spaghetti harvest.

Dimbleby, sitting on the set of Panorama, looked into the camera and without a trace of a smile said: "And now from wine to food. We end Panorama tonight with a special report from the Swiss Alps."

The screen cut away to the prepared footage. When it was all over, Dimbleby reappeared and said, "Now we say goodnight, on this first day of April." He emphasized the final phrase.

Text of the spaghetti harvest hoax
What follows is the complete text, written by David Wheeler and narrated by Richard Dimbleby, that Panorama viewers heard. The original clip of the spaghetti harvest hoax can be viewed on the BBC's website.

It is not only in Britain that spring, this year, has taken everyone by surprise. Here in the Ticino, on the borders of Switzerland and Italy, the slopes overlooking Lake Lugano have already burst into flower at least a fortnight earlier than usual.

But what, you may ask, has the early and welcome arrival of bees and blossom to do with food? Well, it is simply that the past winter, one of the mildest in living memory, has had its effect in other ways as well. Most important of all, it's resulted in an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop.

The last two weeks of March are an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer. There is always the chance of a late frost which, while not entirely ruining the crop, generally impairs the flavour and makes it difficult for him to obtain top prices in world markets. But now these dangers are over and the spaghetti harvest goes forward.

Spaghetti cultivation here in Switzerland is not, of course, carried out on anything like the tremendous scale of the Italian industry. Many of you, I am sure, will have seen pictures of the vast spaghetti plantations in the Po valley. For the Swiss, however, it tends to be more of a family affair.

Another reason why this may be a bumper year lies in the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil, the tiny creature whose depradations have caused much concern in the past.

After picking, the spaghetti is laid out to dry in the warm Alpine air. Many people are very puzzled by the fact that spaghetti is produced in such uniform lengths. This is the result of many years of patient endeavour by plant breeders who suceeded in producing the perfect spaghetti.

Now the harvest is marked by a traditional meal. Toasts to the new crop are drunk in these boccalinos, then the waiters enter bearing the ceremonial dish. This is, of course, spaghetti -- picked early in the day, dried in the sun, and so brought fresh from garden to table at the very peak of condition. For those who love this dish, there is nothing like real home-grown spaghetti.

Reaction
Soon after the broadcast ended, the BBC began to receive hundreds of calls from viewers. Leonard Miall walked over to the BBC's telephone exchange to witness what was going on. He later wrote:

the calls came in incessantly. Some were from viewers who had enjoyed the joke - including one from Bristol who complained that spaghetti didn't grow vertically, it grew horizontally. But mainly the calls were requests for the BBC to settle family arguments: the husband knew it must be true that spaghetti grew on a bush because Richard Dimbleby had said so and the wife knew it was made with flour and water, but neither could convince the other.

Before transmissions ceased that evening, the BBC broadcast a statement in which it informed viewers of the hoax:

The BBC has received a mixed reaction to a spoof documentary broadcast this evening about spaghetti crops in Switzerland. The hoax Panorama programme, narrated by distinguished broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, featured a family from Ticino in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest. It showed women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry. But some viewers failed to see the funny side of the broadcast and criticised the BBC for airing the item on what is supposed to be a serious factual programme. Others, however, were so intrigued they wanted to find out where they could purchase their very own spaghetti bush.

Spaghetti is not a widely-eaten food in the UK and is considered by many as an exotic delicacy. Mr Dimbleby explained how each year the end of March is a very anxious time for Spaghetti harvesters all over Europe as severe frost can impair the flavour of the spaghetti. He also explained how each strand of spaghetti always grows to the same length thanks to years of hard work by generations of growers. This is believed to be one of the first times the medium of television has been used to stage an April Fools Day hoax.

Despite this confession, calls continued to come in. The BBC operators eventually came up with a standard reply to those seeking information on how to grow their own spaghetti tree: "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

Part of the reason for the puzzlement was that spaghetti was not a widely eaten food in Britain during the 1950s. Although its popularity had been increasing since World War II, many still considered it to be an exotic, foreign dish. Its origin was evidently a real mystery to some.

Among those fooled were Sir Ian Jacob, the director-general of the BBC. A note had been sent to him, informing him in advance about the broadcast, but he had not received it. Therefore, when he saw the broadcast, he did not know what to expect.

The next day Jacob cornered Miall in the hallway of the BBC and said, "When I saw that item, I said to my wife, 'I don't think spaghetti grows on trees,' so we looked it up in Encyclopedia Britannica. Do you know, Miall, Encyclopedia Britannica doesn't even mention spaghetti."

In the days that followed, there was a scattering of criticism. A few complained that the BBC had taken liberties with the trust of their audience. The headline of the Daily Telegraph the next day read, "BBC fools about with spaghetti." Others noted that the BBC had violated one of the rules of April Fool's Day -- that no jokes are supposed to be carried out later than noon. But overall, the response was very favorable.

Jacob himself, despite having been taken in by the hoax, became a big fan of it. He sent de Jaeger a congratulatory note: "The spaghetti harvest was a splendid idea, beautifully shot and organised. This item has caused a great deal of delight one way and another. Thank you very much indeed."

Tributes
The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax found a large appreciative audience in America when it was aired by Jack Paar during the 1960s. Later Johnny Carson also aired it. Reportedly, "A week or so later, he had to respond to irate letters of people who took it seriously and thought he was making fun of the simple farmers. I remember him holding up a box of spaghetti and reading off the list of ingredients to prove that spaghetti is made, not born."

Panorama never attempted another April Fool's Day spoof, despite numerous calls for a sequel. However, the hoax did inspire a number of similar stunts in its honor. For instance:

Australian Spaghetti Crop
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reportedly perpetrated a similar hoax, involving the claim that the Australian spaghetti crop in the "spaghetti-growing heartland" had been devestated by the "spaghetti worm," a creature that ate unripe spaghetti from the inside. The report included footage of distraught spaghetti farmers lamenting that they were facing financial ruin. An appeal was made to the public for donations, and next week thousands of people went to post offices and banks to donate money to the spaghetti farmers. (Citation is needed)

Dimbleby Pickle Farm
On April 1, 1970 NBC reportedly paid tribute to the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest by broadcasting a segment about a farm where pickles grew on trees. One of the only descriptions of this segment is found in The Pleasures of Deception by Norman Moss:

On April 1st, 1970, on the National Broadcasting Company's Huntley-Brinkley programme, John Chancellor did an item on that year's pickle crop, with film of a dill pickle tree. He said he was reporting from the Dimbleby Pickle Farm.

However, the NBC archives has been unable to locate any footage of such a segment.

Nobody Grows Spaghetti Like...
It is rumored that an American pasta company created an ad during the 1970s or 80s that alluded to the spaghetti harvest hoax. The tag line was, "Nobody grows spaghetti like San Giorgio!" Or maybe it was "like Barilla."

Postscript
De Jaeger later wrote a book about Hitler's plan for an art gallery in Linz. He died on May 19, 2000. Leonard Miall wrote an obituary for him that was published in the Independent.

Michael Peacock later became controller of BBC2, which was created in 1964.

In 1999 the Birmingham Post listed the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax as one of television's 100 greatest moments. It came in at #82.

Spaghetti Harvest Haiku (Submitted by Hoax Museum visitors)
There's nothing like the
taste of home-grown spaghetti
picked fresh from the tree!
(by AB)
Three words in the news
Hint at untold suffering:
Spaghetti crop fails
(by Paul)
Mild winter and no
dreaded spaghetti weevil
make dinner yummy.
(by Krista)
Spaghetti on trees!
Discover the truth and watch
BBC channel!
(by J)
Spaghetti on trees,
indeed a bumper crop year.
Alas, no ragu.
(by Susan)
Spaghetti maiden
Might you someday stroke my hair
With the same stern love.
(by Iliana)

Links and References
April Fool's DayTelevision HoaxesHoaxes of the 1950sHoaxes by Journalists


A delightful site, which I've bookmarked.

Reading the item about the Swiss spaghetti reminded me of a similar story that was broadcast by our ABC TV (http://www.abc.net.au) when I was a kid. Unfortunately there's nothing on their website about it so I'm forced to rely on memory. I recall the footage was in black & white (colour TV started here in 1975), and it was broadcast by the ABC's current affairs show of the time. Probably late '60s or early '70s timeframe?

Anyway, the ABC version described the devastation of that year's Australian spaghetti crop by the "spaghetti worm", a ravenous creature
which ate the unripe spaghetti from the inside, rendering it worthless. Application of pesticides was said to be ineffective, because anything
powerful enough to kill the worm also rendered the spaghetti unfit for eating.

The report included dramatic footage of infested spaghetti bushes being cleared & burned in an effort to contain the outbreak, interviews with distraught spaghetti farmers facing financial ruin, etc. And as was (and still is) common practice for these types of stories, the report
concluded with an appeal for donations from the public.

It was one of the best April Fool's ever done by the Australian media. Apparently thousands of people went to post offices & banks all over the country during the following days, trying to hand over wads of money to "those poor spaghetti farmers". About the only people not taken in were (obviously) those who actually lived in the supposed "spaghetti-growing heartland" some of whom had helped pull off the prank.

The following week's show admitted the hoax, and described how it was done. Unfortunately this confession provoked a backlash about how public funds (the ABC is govt-owned) had been wasted on this prank; and since then the ABC news & current affairs have never done an April Fool's of their own. Of course you only needed to look at the date the story aired and the ingredients label on any spaghetti to realize it was a joke!
Posted by Fraser  on  Sat Jul 07, 2001  at  01:14 AM
In 1958 or 1959, we were shown the BBC spaghetti harvest hoax as a film in grammar school. This was presented as a real film to us. Just shows you how bad the Chicago schools were 30 years before Bill Bennett said they were the worst in the country.
Posted by Anonymous  on  Wed Apr 03, 2002  at  11:24 PM
The spaghetti hoax was also broadcast on the Jack Paar show. The studio audience laughed heartily. A few weeks later Jack announced that there were so many enquiries asking what was so funny that he had to show it again. Which he did. However, he never did explain what was so funny!
Posted by Paul  on  Mon May 27, 2002  at  02:20 PM
I learned about your site from the Scout Report and have enjoyed poking around in it. Great stuff, nicely laid out. Thanks, especially, for the story about the homegrown spaghetti and the link to the original BBC film. It may interest you to know that some time in the 1960s or 1970s, Johnny Carson showed the same film on The Tonight Show. A week or so later, he had to respond to irate letters of people who took it seriously and thought he was making fun of the simple farmers. I remember him holding up a box of spaghetti and reading off the list of ingredients to prove that spaghetti is made, not born. And gullible Americans at the time didn't have the excuse that some Britons had in the 1950s that spaghetti wasn't a familiar dish. Thanks for the site.
Posted by Alan  on  Sat Jan 11, 2003  at  12:20 AM
I, too, saw this with my family when I was a child. We all had a good laugh! I never bumped into any one else who saw it over all these years!
April Fools Issue Montreal Star Sunday Magazine Section - around 1975
The entire magazine, like the USA Parade Sunday Magazine, was a joke; story after story! One was about an under ground sugar mine, another about Margaret Trudeau changing her mind in every paragraph about her goals in life...I wish I could read it again.
Maybe I'll find it's already on your site!
Posted by Barbara Ann  on  Sat Nov 01, 2003  at  03:54 AM
There were two other memorable April Fools hoaxes, one on the BBCin the 60', I think where a building had been errected, by an "Irish contractor", upside down. Inverviews and photos were presented in a similar manner to the Spaghetti episode.
The other wat a "1000 Watt" amplifier which was in the April edition of Wireless World/ This included full information on how to build the phonograph amplifier on to you house heating radiators (for cooling) and how one needed to take care not to drop the phonograph needle ont the record in-case the impact of the sound damaged the house walls. The following month included a letter from a reader who said he'd built speakers for the amplifier into a Fighter jet ejector seat. This was so that life-threateningly loud passages of music could be detected and the seat fired to protect the seated listener.
Posted by david perkins  on  Sun Nov 02, 2003  at  10:44 PM
Your story in the Los Angeles Times Magazine (Feb. 15, 2004) reminds me of my husband's story about having his younger sister convinced that spaghetti was mined in spaghetti mines. They were quite young, and she believed him, at least for a while.
Posted by Bette Darwin  on  Sun Mar 14, 2004  at  01:52 PM
I remember seeing this film on tv (perhaps Art Llnkletter). Then, a year or so later, they showed it to the upper grades at my elementary school. Immediately after, we had to write 1/2 page about what we'd learned from the movie. With 2 exceptions, all 90 students explained how & where spaghetti is grown. I had made noodles at home and remembered seeing the movie before as well, so i knew it was a "fake movie". I said that i hadn't learned anything because it was "fake". Phil, my classmate just said "what in the world???"
Posted by Ann  in  New York State  on  Fri Apr 02, 2004  at  09:44 PM
Wonderful! A mystery from my childhood explained. Some chain restaurant in the US in the 1970's decorated their lobbies with giant stills from this film. The restaurant may have been The Old Spaghetti Factory?

I remember being totally baffled by the images - my parents recognized them as a joke, but the utter lack of context made them deeply strange and they stuck with me as a result.
Posted by mike whybark  in  Seattle  on  Sat Apr 03, 2004  at  01:47 PM
I was a small child (4 or 5) when I saw this and of course belived it was true. I told my family how I saw spaghetti being grown on TV and was told that I could not have seen that, I must have fallen asleep and dreamed it but I always remembered the show. About 25 years later my husband and I were watching "Bloopers and Practical Jokes" when once again I saw it. I was so excited that I had not dreamed it, I really did see people picking spaghetti and enjoying a bowl of freshly picked spaghetti.
Posted by carol  on  Sat Jul 10, 2004  at  02:56 AM
I am 24, so didn't see the clip when it was originally broadcast.

A few people have written here wondering how on Earth people could be taken in by such a clip. What one has to remember is that back in 1957 a lot of people in the UK did not eat Italian food, and many would only have thought of Spagetti as an 'exotic' food, really having no idea how it was made. Back then, we made all our own food and hardly ever relied on 'foreign' ingredients, especially out of London.

This is not meant to suggest that people out of London are somehow 'backwards' or 'behind the times', rather that times were different then.

Don't be too harsh on people because they make a silly mistake... I'm sure people who have made this criticism will make many silly mistakes of their own!
Posted by Kevin Rogers  in  London, UK  on  Fri Aug 20, 2004  at  06:27 AM
There was a commercial on American TV in the '70's or '80's showing Italian farmers picking spaghetti off trees. I forget the brand--anyone remember it? Obviously it was inspired by that BBC broadcast.
Posted by Nancy Protzman  in  USA  on  Mon Apr 04, 2005  at  02:26 PM
Hi, Nancy! That's exactly what lead me to this site. I'm almost positive the commercial was from the '70s; I was born in '69 and I think I would have a clearer memory if it was the '80s. I can even hear the tone of the narrator in my head, but I'm not having any luck on the web finding mention of the advertiser.
Posted by Ember  in  Chicago  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  12:47 PM
I'm amazed to see that the Spaghetti harvest ws broadcast in 1957. This must make it one of my earliest memories - I was born in 1953 - and suggests I was staying up quite late (8pm). I remember that neither of my parents reacted to the hoax - presumably because they were uncertain. When we were told not long after it seemed astonishing that Panorama had done this - Richard Dimbleby, the presenter, was held in such high public esteem that he was asked to cover Churchill's state funeral a few years later.
Posted by Alan Urdaibay  in  United Kingdom  on  Sat Apr 09, 2005  at  06:22 PM
Funnier than the original film, the BBC broadcast a retraction the following week admitting that spaghetti did not grow on trees. It was in fact mined. Shots of the spaghetti mine and a quick fade to black.
Posted by Anthony Martineti  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  05:53 PM
The commercial that aired in the U.S. was for Barilla brand spaghetti. (Barilla makes pasta of almost all types.)

It aired in the 80's. I know this because I was born in '76 and would not have remembered the commercial if it aired in the 70's. After showing a very pastoral setting with happy Italian adults and chidren harvesting the spaghtetti while a narrator did a voice over describing how great it all was, the commercial closed with the narrator saying something to the effect of: "Of course, we all know spaghetti doesn't grow on trees, but if it did..." and then mentioned something about how great Barilla was.
Posted by Hoopy Frood  on  Fri May 13, 2005  at  11:08 AM
I was very young in 1957, but I can remember the Spaghetti Harvest broadcast. It was so effective simply because there was ONLY the BBC in those days (the commercial channel ITV began at the end of 1957) and the commentator was the heavyweight Richard Dimbleby, who had covered the Queen's Coronation and other great occasions.

It was also only 12 years after the end of the war and people, even those outside Britain, thought of the BBC as the source of all truth (a surprising number still do).

Another reason was that food rationing had only just ended (yes, 12 years after the end of the war!), spaghetti was considered very exotic and only came in cans with tomato sauce. People didn't have much money, so they didn't go outside Britain - especially since most of them had spent enough time away during the war. Therefore, very few British people actually knew where spaghetti came from or how it was made.
Posted by Caroline Andrews  on  Mon May 23, 2005  at  01:07 PM
A line I loved in the spaghetti hoax was the explanation that "this is one of the most successful spaghetti farms, and an important contributing factor is the family's ability to have all the spaghetti approximately the same length, thus avoiding the waste when the odd lengths have to be cropped, prior to boxing."
Posted by Jack Carroll  in  New Orleans, La - USA  on  Thu Jun 09, 2005  at  11:21 PM
Hmm,

I live in the USA and I remember a TV ad for (I think) 'Prince Spaghetti' that showed an italian family 'harvesting' spag from trees. The last line from the voice over was 'But we know spaghetti dosn't grow on tree's '

Amazingly enough in the USA the greatest 'hoax' on April 1st has to be Orson Wells "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast. How can you put spaghetti before Wells"?

Biggest and MOST documented April 1st gag ever pulled.

Come on.. Put the guy in slot #1

With Respect,
Posted by Cozmo  on  Wed Sep 14, 2005  at  05:45 AM
i remember seeing something like this as a kid (somewhere between '75 and '80), only my memory seems to have it tied to either Prego or Ragu spaghetti sauce. for about 2 years i thought you could actually grow spaghetti on trees. that was a pretty powerful commercial if i can remember it 20 years later wink
Posted by honey bunny  in  boston  on  Thu Sep 15, 2005  at  12:25 PM
I remember actually seeing the Panorama programme when it first came out. I lived in London with my parents at the time and, understandbly, as an 8-year-old child, was dumbfounded by the report.

The fact that Richard Dimbleby was the narrator gave it additional credence.
Posted by Michael Strubell  in  Barcelona, Catalonia (ES)  on  Sun Oct 09, 2005  at  03:33 PM
"Of course, we all know spaghetti doesn't grow on trees, but if it did...

...nobody grows spaghetti like Barilla."

I was also born in '76, and I remember it as well. I remember being a bit confused at the time, because I knew spaghetti didn't grow on trees. I didn't remember the brand, but I do remember the "nobody grows spaghetti like..." tag line.
Posted by Andy Messier  on  Mon Oct 10, 2005  at  04:17 PM
In fact, it was San Giorgio, not Barilla.

"Nobody grows spaghetti like San Giorgio."
Posted by Andy Messier  on  Mon Oct 10, 2005  at  04:34 PM
this sight is splended i found out everything i needed to know about the harvest of this great pasta. and i too saw this family when i was very young. infact one of them was mi mums best friend.
Posted by you will never no  in  ?????  on  Mon Feb 27, 2006  at  09:24 AM
I think the April Fools joke about Spaghetti Trees was the funniest thing I've read for years - with someone like Richard Dimbleby presenting it I'd have believed every word because kids knew that adults always told the truth. English people have the best sense of humour by a country mile.

Maggie
Posted by M Kerr  in  Queensland, Australia  on  Sat Apr 08, 2006  at  07:05 AM
I recall seeing the Spaghetti Harvest on Jack Paar as a child... my memory of this clip was fairly accurate, and it is as funny as I remember. Thanks!
Posted by Tobias Haller  on  Sun Apr 09, 2006  at  06:18 PM
I still remember watching this documentary as a kid. I thought it was made from flour I didn't know it grew on trees? My mother got a good laugh when I asked her that question.
Thanks for the memories
Posted by Connie Weier  on  Sun Jan 13, 2008  at  11:54 PM
My brother and I saw this on Jack Paar, I was 13 and he was 10. Our family was in bed so we went into the kitchen and boiled up some spaghetti and drapped it all over my Grandmother's house plants (and she had a lot of plants). The next morning with just sat at the breakfast table giggling and telling her that her plants grew spaghette. We all had a very good laugh. My Grandmother loved practical jokes and pulled many of them on us.
Posted by C Kessel  on  Tue Apr 01, 2008  at  12:30 PM
I remember seeing this on TV. I knew it was hoax, but was greatly amused by it. I think, in addition to the spaghetti farmers harvesting it from the trees, it also showed them gathering it from short bushes on the ground. David Moore
Posted by David Moore  in  Oklahoma City, OK 73118  on  Tue Apr 01, 2008  at  04:48 PM
I remember seeing this or a similar picture in my world geography book when I was in the fourth grade in 1959, in Fort Smith,Ar,. I was only eight years old and the picture had the sub title, "Harvesting spaghetti". The picture was not referenced in the text, and the reason for the picture escapes me. however I believed spaghetti grew on trees for years until someone set me right. John Whitehead
Posted by John Whitehead  in  Oklahoma City, Ok 73107  on  Fri Apr 04, 2008  at  06:47 PM
Maybe NBC doesn't have archival footage ofthe April 1, 1970 "pickle harvest" segment, but it DID happen. I was working that night and remember the phone calls. Mr Huntley enjoyed the bit. Thirteen days later when someone (still unnamed and still unknown) was drunk in the newsroom, NBC was fifteen minutes behind the other two networks reporting a small problem in Houston. Nobody was laughing that day ...
Posted by j.p. knox  in  Pecos, NM  on  Sun Apr 01, 2012  at  03:49 PM
Dear All

On April 1, 1963, or 1964 the BBC broadcast that the spaghetti farmers of Italy were having a bad harvest. British housewives promptly denuded their shops of the only spaghetti they knew: tinned spaghetti, probably by Heinz!

I was there.

Bob Eisenberg
Posted by Beisenbe  on  Sun Apr 01, 2012  at  05:12 PM
Spaghetti weevils
Stopped me from eating noodles
Plucked straight from the trees
Posted by Cryptid lover  on  Wed May 09, 2012  at  11:40 PM
I'm surprised to see no mention of this film later being used by Monty Python. It was screened at the beginning of one of their movies, at least in Australia, in the 1970s. I think it was with The Life of Brian, but may have been The Quest for the Holy Grail.

Can someone help me out here?

Posted by Lindsay Swadling  in  Greenethorpe, Australia  on  Tue Apr 16, 2013  at  03:42 AM
I don't know whether Monty Python ever used this film, but it certainly isn't at the beginning of Brian - which starts with a starry sky, in front of which are the three magi showing up at Brian's birth - or Grail - which famously starts* with Arthur and his "horse", Patsy, clip-clopping along using coconuts. Nor is it "Completely Different", which starts with "How not to be seen". I've checked all three. I don't think it's "Meaning of Life", either; I don't have that handy, but IIRC it starts with the pirate-faring accounts clerks.

What you may have seen was a double feature, with the Spaghetti Harvest as the B intro to a Python A feature. It almost certainly wasn't an official Monty Python combination, in any case.

*(Actually, my DVD of Grail starts with a fake opener from "Dentist on the Job", a particularly dreary Bob Monkhouse vehicle, but AIUI that's a special edition. Grail proper, after the Norwegian llamas, starts with the coconuts and African or European swallows.)
Posted by Richard Bos  in  the Netherlands  on  Thu Jun 13, 2013  at  08:43 AM
Hi Richard, I didn't explain that very well. It wasn't part of a Monty Python movie, but I'm sure it was shown immediately beforehand, like a travelogue. Maybe only in Australia?
Posted by Lindsay Swadling  in  Greenethorpe, Australia  on  Fri Jun 28, 2013  at  01:32 AM
I remember this being shown in I think the 1970's. It was on Johnny Carson and I was maybe 8 and I have to say they had me for a few minutes. I was"Really" is that where spahetti comes from?! lol
Posted by Victoria Kinney  in  Kalamazoo, Michigan49048  on  Fri Sep 06, 2013  at  02:45 PM
I remember as a young boy in the early 60's, seeing a photo of people standing in front of a tree with strands of spaghetti hanging from the branches and not knowing anything about pasta, i assumed it to be true. Not long after, i was at school and the teacher was asking us to name things that grew on trees and i said spaghetti. You can imagine the reaction to that especially since quite a few boys in the class were Italian. The teacher looked at me like I was an idiot. I couldn't believe i was so wrong and i even went home and asked the person who knew everything - mum, and she put me in the picture. For years after, I would think of that day in school and that picture I had seen. In the mid 90's I was reading the local paper when I saw that picture again and the article that accompanied it. It was about famous April fool's day hoaxes perpetrated by the BBC. I was stunned, overjoyed and very relieved that this mystery to me had been finally cleared up; I had been fooled by an April Fools day joke but it took me 30 plus years to realise it.
Posted by Alastair McCallum  in  Adelaide, South Australia  on  Wed Nov 06, 2013  at  04:05 AM
This is better than google nose. It's too easy to believe in April Fools jokes, but anything that is reported or shown on the media on April 1st will have to be taken with some doubts.
Posted by Stephen A. Fletcher  in  Chesterton, Indiana  on  Thu Mar 13, 2014  at  12:11 PM
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