In 1957, BBC persuaded the British that Spaghetti grow on the trees of the Alps

The Spaghetti Tree is a 1957 fake documentary produced by the BBC for the current affairs program Panorama. The video was shot on April Fool’s Day and aired on April 1st of that year. Despite the absurdity of the thing, a large part of the British who watch the documentary believed the words of the reporter, and the calls that came to the editorial staff were hundreds.

The creator was Charles de Jaeger. Originally from Austria, was the cameraman of the Panorama show who created this prank. He remembered that when he attended elementary school, the teacher made fun of the students saying that “they would believe that spaghetti grow on trees”, to subline their stupidity.

Starting from this memory, he asked to be able to travel to the Alps, in Switzerland, to take back the local people intent to harvest spaghetti, the fruits of their cultivation efforts. The BBC granted a £ 100 budget to Charles, who set off on the Castagnola turn, on Lake Lugano, in the Canton of Ticino. Here he filmed the documentary, using laurel plants like trees and hanging the wet but not cooked spaghetti from the branches. The protagonists of the video were local workers, and are shown on their way to the Taddei restaurant at the end of the harvest, where spaghetti is cooked and seasoned with tomato sauce.

Back in London with the footage, De Jaeger asked Richard Dimbleby, the conductor of Panorama and a well-known voice well known by the English public, to dub the film. Dimbleby agreed, making the joke credible beyond suspicion. During the speech, Dimbleby explained that spaghetti is difficult to grow and that farmers face the risk of icing which can damage the harvest. The length of the spaghetti, similar for each piece, is also defined by a work lasting generations, carried out by tireless growers of spaghetti.

In order to add a touch of realism, but above all an idyllic mixed atmosphere between Italy and Switzerland, the music of the film was “Spring in Ravenna” by Hans May and “A Neapolitan Love Song” by Walter Stott.

The video on-air and the switchboards went crazy. At the time, spaghetti, and all pasta in general, were not common foods in Britain, on the contrary, they were considered an exotic food. Although most people were aware that pasta is not something that grows on a tree, hundreds (or thousands, there is no reliable data) of people who saw the broadcast called the BBC for more information on growing spaghetti.

The BBC operators replied, with much irony and aplomb, that to grow spaghetti it was necessary to put a handful of spaghetti in a tomato sauce box and hope for the best.

The joke of the Spaghetti tree has been defined by CNN as: “The most beautiful prank that any news agency has ever made.”

Below, the unmissable video of the Spaghetti Tree: