Nuts and Berries Hoax

The Seattle in 1981 Worldcon bid advertised presupporting memberships for $1.00 “or 6,000 pounds of assorted nuts and berries to keep the bigfoots happy and nonviolent until ’81”. Norwegian fan Bjørn Vermo and the Aniara Science Fiction Club wrote saying that they had pooled their resources and were shipping 60,000 pounds of Norwegian hazelnuts and Russian dried blueberries in payment for ten presupports, FOB Oslo. Accompanying the letter were an authentic looking bill of lading and other documents asserting that the goods had been loaded onto a freighter bound for the Port of Seattle. Inquiry confirmed that the ship and its purported schedule were real and that its cargo manifest was consistent with the Norwegian club’s documents.

Bjørn also showed up at Iguanacon, where, in bid chairman Greg Bennett’s words, he “was relentless, telling the story in painful detail of how difficult it was to organize the bodies they needed to move those blueberries and hazelnuts from their cache”.

Panic, or the pretense thereof, ensued, as NWSFS members had visions of trying to cope with 30 tons of foodstuffs, not to mention being dunned for insurance and freight. Greg later recounted, "While we were sweating away in the fair city of Phoenix (both from the heat and from Bjørn’s ceaseless deadpan), the California Star was steaming her way through the Panama Canal. We started making plans – blueberry wine, blueberry soup, hazelnut bread. Our resident gourmet cook, Cliff Wind, took great delight in coming up with exotic recipes.

"So, on September 11, 1978, about a dozen members of the Northwest Science Fiction Society met the California Star at its dock. We were prepared with all the excuses: unsolicited merchandise, it wasn’t our fault, we can’t afford to pay the shipping charges… . But, when the crates were all unloaded, the nuts and berries were nowhere to be found."

The subsequent explanation was that a pack of bigfoots had boarded the ship during its passage through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and pirated the delicacies. The bid added the Aniara Club members to its presupporting rolls.