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Goldfish swallowing was an American school fad starting in the 1920s, where a live goldfish is swallowed.
It is not clear how the fad emerged: various people have made claims. A 1963 letter to the New York Times claimed that the fad began in late 1938 when Lothrop Withington Jr., a Harvard freshman with "[class] presidential aspirations," was encouraged by his "campaign managers" to do so as a publicity stunt: "Reporters and photographers were inadvertently present in the Harvard Freshman Union when Withington swallowed his live goldfish (with a mashed potato chaser) and started a nationwide fad in the spring of 1939." The editor replied that "unless the Editor's memory is deceiving him, the goldfish-swallowing craze among school and college boys had begun at least as early as 1930." However, a Time magazine noted in a 1939 article, "Harvard Freshman Lothrop Withington Jr., son of a onetime (1910) Harvard football captain, started the fad sweeping U. S. campuses...".
- Goldfish Swallowing at Bad Fads Museum
- College Fads from The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture[dead link]
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