Though most fads seem to spring up from nowhere, goldfish swallowing can be traced back to one individual and one specific date. On March 3, 1939, Harvard student Lothrop Withington, Jr. swallowed a live fish to win a $10 bet. Days later, not to be outdone, a college student in Pennsylvania downed three fish seasoned with salt and pepper. When a fellow classmate upped the ante to six goldfish, the gauntlet had been thrown down and the fad spread like wildfire on campuses across the country. Before the goldfish craze faded a few months later, thousands of goldfish had met their gruesome ends and even coeds had taken up the challenge.
Now, I love seafood as much as anyone. I love shrimp, catfish, scallops, trout, oysters, and crabmeat. I even like the “fish” they sell out of the chain restaurant named after a pirate. But I draw the line at goldfish.
But Lothrop was like a lot of us. He was willing to swallow anything, whether it was good for him or not. You hear a lot of “stuff.” But you don’t have to swallow it all.