It’s good to laugh and this year marks the 65th anniversary of one of the most memorable April Fools Day pranks.

We know from records that April Fools Day has been around many hundreds of years. The exact origins remain a mystery, though connection to the onset of spring heralding merriment and general confusion of dates due to calendar changes seem to have something to do with it.

Food and drink have often played a part in the tricks played. They include the fast food chain Burger King advertising left handed whoppers – where all the contents of the bun were rotated 180%. Also, the genetically modified carrots, grown with holes in them so when they were boiled just right they emitted a whistling noise.

On April 1 1957 the BBC’s flagship news programme, Panorama, broadcast a three-minute report on how the early spring had boosted the European spaghetti harvest –  a joke that would go down in prankster folklore.

The short film showed spaghetti being plucked from trees in the town of Ticino on the Swiss-Italian border and being dried in the warm alpine sun. Viewers were informed the uniform length of each strand was due to years of patience from expert cultivators and the extermination of the feared spaghetti weevil. The feature finished with a shot of families sitting down to enjoy the year’s first harvest of “home grown spaghetti”.

The voice-over by respected broadcaster Richard Dimbleby made it all the more believable and many were fooled into thinking that spaghetti was indeed grown on trees – rather than man made using flour and water.

In fact the film crew, in Switzerland for another assignment, had bought 20lbs of spaghetti from a local store and hung strands of it from laurel bushes in the garden of a hotel on the shore of Lake Lugano, persuading locals to dress in traditional costume to “harvest” it.

The BBC received hundreds of calls the following day inquiring as to whether the story was true and asking advice on growing spaghetti trees. The BBC suggested placing a sprig of spaghetti in tomato sauce and hoping for the best.

In defence of those fooled,  it should be remembered this was a time when the world was still mainly seen in black and white, package holidays were yet to really take off and very little food was imported from abroad.

Now supermarkets offer the chance to buy food from every corner of the globe, including the SK range that provides authentic tastes of the Mediterranean, Tex-Mex, Asia and India – and we are definitely not joking about this!

Over the years there have been thousands of April Fools played, including National Geographic reporting it would no longer degrade animals by featuring naked photos of them and BMW claiming it’s revolutionary magnetic tow feature allowed you to switch of your engine and get a free ride from the car in front.

However in terms of harmless fun that still raises a smile decades later, the great spaghetti tree hoax of ‘57 is regarded by many as the pick of the crop.

About Sean Flint
Development & Innovation Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.