Images: Bettmann/CORBIS photos and a March 1939 Associated Press news story
“Goldfish swallowing started as a fad in the spring of 1939 when Harvard freshman Lothrop Withington swallowed one when a classmate wagered that he wouldn’t…The event received vast coverage from the local media in Boston and soon college students throughout the country were trying to top his feat.”
Here is a southern California connection: “…a professor at U.C.L.A. concluded that an adult male could safely consume up to 150 fish, but warned against exceeding that amount.”
Excerpts from http://www.badfads.com/events/goldfish-swallowing/ .