In 1957, BBC’s current-affairs programme Panorama aired a story about an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop in Switzerland. It was seen by eight million people.
The segment was narrated by the trusted and respected presenter, Richard Dimbleby, and contained black and white news footage of women carrying baskets plucking lengths of spaghetti from trees. Dimbleby narrates, “… another reason this may be a bumper year lies in the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil.”
The British public, back in 1957, had no reason to question the news story. Spaghetti was a relatively new thing in England and most were only familiar with tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce. Spaghetti was a new and exotic food.
Hundreds of people called the BBC to ask how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best,” was the usual reply.
Decades later CNN described the Spaghetti Harvest as, “The best hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled.”