Great Moments in Journalism #9

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On this day 51 years ago the BBC's Panorama programme broadcast a news item about the annual harvesting of spaghetti.

Rosie Blau of the Financial Times, explains for those unfamiliar; ‘The workers of Ticino, Switzerland, carefully plucked the pasta from the trees before laying it out in the sun to dry. [Richard] Dimbleby’s deadpan voice over explained that each individual strand of spaghetti grew to the same length after generations of cultivation; severe winter frost, however could harm the flavour.

At the time, pasta was rare in the UK – and the BBC was the stalwart source of information about the world. The programme, which we now identify so easily as a hoax, fooled millions when was broadcast…’, ‘An estimated 8 million people watched the programme.

When many phoned in the next day to ask how to grow their own tree, the BBC apparently told them to “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best”.’

3 comments:

H. P. L. said...

ah ah ah!!!
Well, wish that pasta grew on trees... but the point is: why Switzerland, of all places??? Swiss pasta is awful!!

swac said...

I got an e-mail from someone saying Gene Simmons was dead.

Turns out they were right.

S J said...

My parents watched the spaghetti harvest segment on The Tonight Show, when Jack Paar was host, as I recall. To the end of her life, my mother recalled the spot as howling funny.

Thanks for sharing. What a terrific website.

Best wishes from Sally in Nebraska