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Goldfish swallowing was an American school fad starting in the 1930s, where a live goldfish is swallowed.

It is not clear how it became a fad: 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 Harvardmarker 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." Apparently his memory was deceiving him, as 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...".

See also


  1. Newman, Harry, Jr. "The Goldfish Swallowers." Letter to New York Times, February 27, 1963, p. 6

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