April 06, 2004

The Spaghetti Harvest

Patrick Belton of OxBlog writes about "...historic April Fools pranks, my personal all-time favorite - the BBC's 1957 Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, which the news show Panorama broadcast drolly in a segment which showed rustic Swiss peasants harvesting that year's bumper spaghetti crop, brought on by a mild winter. (You can watch the original broadcast on the BBC's website.) Of course, the entire broadcast was just a joke. But soon after the broadcast ended, the BBC's offices began to receive hundreds of telephone calls from their puzzled viewers, who either wanted to ask whether spaghetti actually did grow on trees, or who were eager to learn how they might grow their own spaghetti tree. To this, the BBC is reported to have replied they should 'place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.'"

Posted by DeLong at April 6, 2004 01:41 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

"To this, the BBC is reported to have replied they should 'place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.'"

stangely reminicent of our Iraq policy.

Posted by: SW on April 6, 2004 01:59 PM

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For those of us on this side of the pond at the time, Jack Paar showed the clip on the Tonight Show. Might have been the first acknowledgement on U.S. television of British humor.

Posted by: bob on April 6, 2004 02:11 PM

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Not an April Fools joke, but another great hoax: Peter Jackson's Forgotten Silver, a mockumentary about an apocryphal pioneering Kiwi director (shown on New Zealand television). More than half the viewers swallowed it whole--best of all, a number of film scholars claimed to have known all about this guy--and there was some real anger when it turned out the whole thing was a hoax. It's well worth getting from NetFlix, for Forgotten Silver itself and for the real documentary about reaction to it.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on April 6, 2004 02:19 PM

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When I was a little kid in Boston, some newsreaders did a broadcast about volcanic eruptions in the Blue Hills. The network fired the broadcasters. Some people are too gullible.

Posted by: bakho on April 6, 2004 02:37 PM

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As opposed to say Walt Disney which also produces footage that is garbage (eg lemmings leaping off cliffs) but rather than broadcasting it as a joke on 1 April sells it to schools under the claim that this junk is "educational".

Posted by: Maynard Handley on April 6, 2004 03:08 PM

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That must be where NPR got the idea for a feature they did on April Fool's Day some years ago about pickle ranching. I specifically remember a sound snippet of "the ancient chants of the pickle harvesters" ["pickles in the morning, pickles in the evening, pickles at supper time"] and the oh-so-NPR line that pickle ranching is more than a job, "it's a way of life."

Posted by: David on April 6, 2004 04:23 PM

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NPR many years ago -- near the recall of the Arizona governor (they recalled one, right?) -- did an amazingly well-crafted story on the secession of the state from the US and its subsequent sale (by the Lieutenant Governor) to Canada. They actually had the Prime Minister and acting Governor of the state interviewed. At one point, I recall they mentioned something along the lines of, "Canada really needs a tropical seaport for trade... well, we're just one or two states away with Arizona." There might have been something about "making up for the whole Alaska business" as well....

I have earnestly tried to listen to NPR every April 1 since then, but nothing so good has ever cropped up.

Posted by: Bill Tozier on April 6, 2004 06:01 PM

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jack parr used to play this film on his tonite show from time to time - i always wondered how it came be produced

Posted by: james on April 6, 2004 06:04 PM

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The film was later recycled by the San Georgio company in a series of TV ads about the San Georgio Spaghetti Farm.

Makes for a great cryptic cultural reference these days!

Posted by: Derelict on April 6, 2004 07:37 PM

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greatest April Fool's joke was Sitka, Alaska in 1974. Some guys flew several truck tires into the Mt. Edgecumbe crater. (Mt. Edgecumbe is an extinct volcano.) When Sitka awoke, the volcano was belching black smoke. The city was very disturbed. Link didn't take, but an index to the story is below.


http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/aprilframe6.html

Posted by: macMan on April 6, 2004 08:17 PM

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April 1, 1996

I still remember it. NPR did the story on Starbucks announcement its new distribution strategy. Implementing a nationwide pipeline system to transport coffee directly from seattle to their stores around the country.

Always will be a favorite of mine.

Posted by: libertas on April 6, 2004 10:27 PM

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A classic broadcast. English humor is the best in the world.

But it's funniest when people react to a story not meant to be a hoax. The broadcast of War of the Worlds, which had people all over New Jersey thinking that Martians were invading, is the best known of this type.

Posted by: PJ on April 7, 2004 02:29 AM

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Off topic, but topical;
The EU Commission's economic forecast spring 2004 has just been published. The full text is available (togehter with links on the statistical backgrojnd) on
http://www.europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/04/466|0|RAPID&lg=EN&display=

IP/04/466

Brussels, 7 April 2004

Commission Spring Economic Forecasts 2004 -2005 for the euro area, the European Union and the Acceding and Candidate countries


2. Buoyant world economy boosts global trade

After the weak growth in world trade in 2002, a strong rebound of 5% is estimated to have taken place in 2003. The near-term outlook is for a further acceleration to around 8% in 2004-2005.

World GDP growth is estimated to have been stronger-than-expected at 3.7% in 2003. This year, world economic activity should expand at a robust 4.5%, before levelling off in 2005. This acceleration is supported by a number of factors, including accommodative macroeconomic policies, supportive financial conditions and a return of confidence.

The regional distribution of world growth widened in 2003, with stronger than expected contributions coming from the US, the CIS, OPEC, Asia (especially China) and the acceding countries. In the US, helped by monetary and fiscal policy stimulus and solid underlying productivity growth, the recovery is expected to continue, with growth at 4.2% in 2004. Nonetheless, in view of the high general government and current account deficits, this pace of economic expansion is viewed as unsustainable, and the growth rate is expected to decline to 3.2% in 2005.

Prospects for Japan have improved markedly with a sharp upward adjustment of growth from an estimated 2.7% in 2003 to 3.4% this year. Deflation appears to be coming to an end, but the general government deficit is expected to remain above 7% of GDP in 2004 and 2005.

The economic outlook for Asia (excluding Japan) remains buoyant with growth in the vicinity of 7% in 2004-2005. During this period, Hong Kong and Korea are expected to take up the slack created by a slight attenuation of the striking growth rates of China and India. Among the other emerging regions, Latin America is expected to double its growth rate in 2004 after a lacklustre performance in 2003. Economic activity is also expected to pick up speed in Africa. In the countries preparing for accession on 1 May 2004 and the other candidate countries, continued strong growth is expected throughout the forecast period, supported by domestic demand and structural change.


SO FORGET ABOUT THE SPAGHETTI HARVEST. HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN - except when the Bush vodoo-economics succeed in ruining all the growth potential.

Posted by: gerhard on April 7, 2004 05:17 AM

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For one of the all-time best April fools gags, search "The Curious Case of Sid Finch". An amazing tale of a NY Mets prospect authored by George Plimpton and presented in the 4/85 Sports Illustrated.

Posted by: repoman on April 7, 2004 06:06 AM

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I can remember as a child seeing Jack Parr introduce the BBC bit. Funniest thing I had ever seen, up to that point. (The next year, I took a Jackie Gleason book to kindergarden and got sent home for the rest of the day. It was funnier, but apparently also subversive, in the mind of an Ohio teacher.)

Years ago, somebody (National Lampoon?) put out a fake April 1 Wall Street Journal edition that featured an article on the velcro crop in eastern Europe. Apparently lint storms were destroying the crops.... (I laughed, I cried, I forced all my friends to read the piece. And when they didn't get it, I forced them to read a real WSJ to understand the parody.)

Posted by: infoshaman on April 7, 2004 06:11 AM

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Someone, I forget who or when, did a mock documentary on spaghetti MINING (vice harvesting). There were pictures of miners with hard hats taking down the strands. Must have been derivative of the original, but funny nonetheless.

Then there was a hilarious New Yorker send up on a Hell's Angel's chapter that had taken up careers as gourmet chefs and caterers, creating exotic soufles among other things while decked out in their leathers.

I would love to get my hands on either of these peices if anyone has a precise reference, BTW.

Posted by: Jim Harris on April 7, 2004 01:10 PM

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Sid Finch! I still remember reading it at my babysitting job and thinking 'this has got to be a hoax, right? but how did they fool SI?' Because it was a subscription copy, so I was reading it several days before April 1 and didn't have my AF filters up. It was quite a while before I noticed the date on the cover and twigged.

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