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Spaghetti Bushes -  April Fools Day 1957

Will and Guy's Hoaxes - April Fools Day Hoaxes

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Swiss Spaghetti Bushes

Where does Spaghetti come from?  Back in 1957, no lesser source than the BBC, informed us that Spaghetti came from bushes. 

Now my guess is that you could resurrect this April Fools day stunt for the next April Fools day.  Today's children are more sophisticated in many ways, for example, they would not believe that a radio programme purporting that Martians had landed in America was true.  However, today children are notoriously ignorant on the sources of food.  All they know is that if they want food, they just open a ready meal or raid the fridge.

My favoured method to trick older children is to recreate the hoax, but to substitute Tagliatelle for Spaghetti. While, for younger children the idea of a plain pasta tree may capture their imagination.Classic Spagetti Bush Hoax

The original 1957 BBC hoax succeed because it was shown on the prestigious Panorama Programme.  In true reverential, BBC documentary tone, Richard Dimbleby explained how Spaghetti was harvested from bushes, dried, and then processed into strands of spaghetti.

Will remembers the Spaghetti Saga and believed it himself, as he didn't know any better!!   Will recalls, 'We didn't have a TV and I had to rely on friends repeating the tale; whether they had stayed up to watch I know not.  I was 10 years old'.

Also, the audience lapped it up, a few people even phoned in asking where they could buy a Spaghetti bush.Classic Spagetti Bush Hoax

As an aside, what I like about a good spoof is that it not only fools people, but also someone else gets mad, in this case staff in the BBC got upset because they felt that the BBC had wasted a Panorama slot on a mere hoax.

Well this Programme went out on April 1st 1957.  It would three months before Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was to tell us: 'most of our people have never had it so good'.  I leave it to you decide if he was talking about Spaghetti bushes or Tagliatelle Trees!

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Sago Tree

We have a local counterpart of the spaghetti joke.  It has to do with a local refreshment ingredient called sago (balled tapioca), which when sweetened with arnibal (sugar cane syrup) and combined with gulaman (gelatin), results is a very refreshing drink.

When we ask schoolkids, or even adults: "Have you seen a sago tree?" 

They experience a temporary brain crash, before they ask you: "Is there really one?"

Footnote:
Item kindly sent in by Roger M.

Australian Farmer Claims Compensation For Damaged Spaghetti Crop

Will and Guy have persistent rumours that an Australian farmer claimed $20,000 for his damaged crop. 

Please write to us if you can elaborate on this story.

French and Poisson d'Avril

The French have their own idiosyncratic take on April Fool's day with Poisson d'Avril.  You may have guessed that poisson means fish, and this theme is taken up by French schoolboys who pin paper fish on their classmates. 

It's not straightforward getting the Poisson d'Avril to stick on the victim's back.  If you make a fish and sew on a safety pin it's not easy to get people to sit still while you unobtrusively attach the poisson.  Velcro is good, but there never seems to be any around just when you need it.

As is so often the case with April Fool's day, the precise derivation of Poisson d'Avril is both obscure and disputed.  Perhaps it's just because fish are considered stupid and easy to catch.  A more erudite origin of Poisson d'Avril claims that those born under the star sign Pisces (the fish) forget that their sign ends on March 20th.

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Sauf en Laisse - Except on a leash!

Sauf en laisse - Except on a leash

Pesce d'Aprile in Italy

The traditional April Fool's trick (Pesce d'Aprile) in Italy consists of a kid surreptitiously attaching a paper cutout of a pesciolino (small fish) to the back of a school mate. Then his friends jokingly ask: L'hai visto?-Chi?-Il pesce d'Aprile! (Have you seen the April Fool!) and makes derisive comments about the victim.

The more sophisticated adult pranks are classics such as rumors that money is being give out: "Si distribuiscono soldi a tutti, andate in via Tal dei Tali al numero..."

Each year there are new pranks which tricks gullible individuals.  The Italian media report them on April 2nd and ranks the migliori pesci d'Aprile.  One Italian speciality is a recipe for ravioli al pesce d'aprile to celebrate April 1st.

Poor Robin's Almanac [1790]*

The first of April, some do say, April The 1st
Is set apart for All Fools' Day.
But why the people call it so,
Nor I, nor they themselves do know.
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment.

* Poor Robin's Almanac was a British almanac. It was published from circa 1663 until 1828. The poet Robert Herrick is thought to have established it.

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