The name for a single spaghetti noodle is “spaghetto.”
Source: Original photo by kate_sept2004/ iStock
Next Fact

The name for a single spaghetti noodle is “spaghetto.”

If you go into an Italian restaurant and order spaghetto, chances are you’ll leave hungry. That’s because “spaghetto” refers to just a lone pasta strand; it’s the singular form of the plural “spaghetti.” Other beloved Italian foods share this same grammatical distinction — one cannoli is actually a “cannolo,” and it's a single cheese-filled “raviolo” or “panino” sandwich. Though this may seem strange given that these plural terms are so ingrained in the English lexicon, Italian language rules state that a word ending in -i means it’s plural, whereas an -o or -a suffix (depending on whether it’s a masculine or feminine term) denotes singularity. (Similarly, “paparazzo” is the singular form of the plural “paparazzi.”) As for the term for the beloved pasta dish itself, “spaghetti” was inspired by the Italian word “spago,” which means “twine” or “string.” 

The BBC once told viewers that spaghetti grows on trees.
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It's a Fact
It may seem outlandish in retrospect, but on April Fools’ Day, 1957, the BBC informed viewers that there was a “spaghetti farm” in Switzerland. They even aired a fabricated video featuring Swiss women harvesting spaghetti from an orchard. Of course, it was just a (skillful) hoax.

Despite pasta’s deep association with Italy, it’s far from an Italian invention. Though its precise origins are somewhat obscure, Arab traders are thought to have introduced pasta to Sicily sometime in the eighth or ninth centuries. Even pasta sauce isn’t originally Italian: Tomatoes were brought to Europe in the 16th century by explorers from the New World, with the first tomato sauce recipe appearing in a 1692 Italian cookbook written by chef Antonio Latini. More than 300 years later, spaghetti is a perennially popular dish, even if most of us haven't always known what to call it.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Weight (in pounds) of the world’s largest bowl of pasta
Cans of SpaghettiOs sold per year
175 million
Length (in feet) of the longest pasta noodle
Year the spaghetti Western “A Fistful of Dollars” was released
National Spaghetti Day occurs on _______ each year.
National Spaghetti Day occurs on January 4 each year.
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Think Twice
Thomas Jefferson helped popularize pasta in the United States.

Around the time he served as U.S. minister to France (1784–1789), future President Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The best maccaroni in Italy is made with a particular sort of flour called Semola, in Naples.” Jefferson even tasked his secretary and diplomat William Short with tracking down a machine for making “maccaroni,” a term he used to describe pasta in general. Jefferson was known for offering pasta to his dinner guests during his presidency, and even had his own written recipe for an early form of mac and cheese that survives to this day. He was also known for serving White House visitors other European delicacies of the time, such as macaroons and ice cream. Though Jefferson was the famous face often connected to pasta’s growing popularity, his Black, enslaved cooks were the ones truly responsible for crafting the delicious dishes – amongst them James Hemings, Peter Hemings, Edith Hern Fossett, and Frances Gillette Hern.

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