Did E.T. play a role in pioneering pasta?

Author: Malcolm McDowell Woods

Published Date: 10/23/2018

Categories: Alumni Athletics F1RST Fall 2018 F1RST Magazine

Wild Speculation

A Most Unusual Trip

1950s-Style Flying Saucer and a Spaghettio

Some 71 years ago, according to Carroll’s yearbook, the Hinakaga, the football team undertook an unusual road trip. It was 1947. The world was teetering between eras. World War II had ended but the chill of an emerging Cold War with the Soviet Union was being felt across the world.

Chuck Yeager had broken the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 rocket plane, heralding the jet age. At Bell Laboratories, a team of researchers had built the first transistor, setting off a revolution in electronics. And in June, a commercial pilot reported seeing a formation of flying saucers in the skies over Washington state, sparking a wave of sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Shortly thereafter, news reports that a flying saucer had crashed in the New Mexico desert put the small town of Roswell—home of an Air Force base—on the map. Questions about what happened in Roswell (reports said dead and injured aliens were found at the crash site) remain to this day, helped along by shows like The X-Files.

A couple of months later, members of the Carroll College men’s football team set off on a curious trip. The squad of 48 players was loaded onto two C-47 military transport planes. The flight made one stop, for lunch, at an airbase in Nebraska. Then the players loaded back onto the transports—big planes hollowed out and typically used for transporting troops—and flew on to their ultimate destination: Roswell!

The yearbook says our Pioneers played cards in the desert heat, had a steak dinner and went to a dance after beating a team of Air Force personnel. 

It was a long way to go for a mere pickup game. So, was this just an innocent road trip to distract the troops, or something else?

We may never know. But we do know that among the student body at Carroll College that year was one Donald Goerke. He was business manager of the Hinakaga, was named Outstanding Junior of the Year, and, while we don’t believe he was on the football squad, he surely knew many of the players. Did they ever tell him about their most unusual road game, the one in Roswell, on the base where rumor had it a captured, crashed flying saucer was held, along with its extraterrestrial occupants?

Again, we may never know. But Goerke would go on to have a successful career in the food industry, working for the Campbell Soup Company. His big claim to fame? He’s the Daddy-O of SpaghettiOs, the canned pasta shaped into small flying discs. According to a Wikipedia entry on Goerke, his team considered other designs for the pasta, including “spacemen and stars.” All of which begs the question: was Goerke’s inspiration truly out of this world?

Back in the 1947 Hinakaga, each of the portraits of the junior class members was accompanied by a song title. Goerke’s? “More Than You Know.”

Here’s what we do know: the truth is out there. Somewhere.

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