What’s for dinner tonight?

If it’s Wednesday and you’ve just watched the classic American TV ad above, for the first time or thousandth time, you know it’s spaghetti day. And if your heart beats for pasta, like Anthony Martignetti, its 12-year-old hero, I would expect you to run, not walk, to the inaugural SpagWednesday pop-up on February 23th. Francesco Mazzei of London’s L’Anima will be preparing his definitive version of spaghetti alle vongole.

The Prince Spaghetti ad was shot on location in Boston’s North End in 1969, when the old neighborhood was still the old neighborhood, which is to say, thoroughly Italian. The Prince brand was founded there in 1912 by three Sicilian Immigrants at a store at 92 Prince Street.

“Anthony! Anthony!” a mother yells out her apartment window.

Her scream was loud and long enough – the spot ran nationally for 13 years – to, as Billy Baker noted in a wonderful Boston Globe article marking the ad’s 40th anniversary, place “Anthony!” alongside “Stella!” from A Streetcar Named Desire, “Elaine!” from The Graduate and “Adrian!” from Rocky in the American pop pantheon.

Whenever I hear anyone shout the name Anthony I know it’s nearly time for spaghetti. It doesn’t matter which one: Anthony Trollope, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Anthony – they all make me hungry. Likewise, the spaghetti doesn’t have to be from a Prince box. Truth is that as much as I loved the Prince ad my mother never cooked with any of its pastas in our Queens, New York apartment, back when the old neighborhood was still the old neighborhood. Prince Spaghetti, Prince Charles, Prince Charming – she wouldn’t open the door to any of that lot.