April 1, 2011

Classic Swiss Spaghetti Tree April Fools Day Hoax

Day 91 of Vintage 365


April Fools Day is anything but a new observance. While some might think it came about in the 19th or 20th century, in fact, the earliest known record of this unique day of practical jokes stretches all the way back to Chaucer in the 1300s.

Between those medieval days and our present time, there have been a great many pranks, hoaxes, and acts rich with tomfoolery carried out, but few compare, in my opinion, to the delightfully silly Swiss Spaghetti Tree hoax of 1957.

While it might seem nearly inconceivable to most people today, back in post-WW2 Britain, spaghetti was still quite an exotic dish for many English people, and as such the popular BBC current event programme, Panorama, decided to have a spot of good old fashioned fun with its viewers.


As you can see in this smile-inducing (faux) news clip, Panorama rather convincingly took its audience on a visual tour of a (supposed) spaghetti harvest that was taking place in the southern Switzerland canton of Ticino. In this clip one is lead to believe that spaghetti grows on trees as effortlessly as fruit, and that it is picked and them dried in the warm Swiss sun before being whipped into a delicious Mediterranean meal.

While no doubt many of the programme's viewers quickly got wise to the fact that this was a good natured hoax, some (who perhaps did not know that this classic Italian pasta was made from wheat flour) clearly fell for the joke and even went so far as to call up the BBC, asking where they could obtain their own spaghetti tree!

Many years later CNN reportedly said of this hoax that it was the "biggest that any reputable news establishment ever pulled", and indeed it was doozey, for now even though more than five decades have passed since Panorama's delightful joke, we're still talking about the infamous Swiss spaghetti trees.

I've never been one for malicious jokes or cruel pranks, but I love a good chuckle as much as the next gal, and silly, entertaining hoaxes like this fantastic classic, are my favourite way of marking April 1st. How do you enjoy celebrating the first day of the fourth month of the year?


  1. What a Hoot! Have seen the photos of the Italian harvest but this is such a funny twist. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Well done, no great wonder folks were fooled.

    This year we are celebrating April Fools Day with a heavy wet fall of snow and I am celebrating by coughing myself sore!! Wish I could say "April Fools," but it is, alas, too true. ( Whine whine ) :)