Crazy Trends Throughout Time

By | October 3, 2022

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Harvard student swallows goldfish. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

From the cough-inducing cinnamon challenge to the deeply dangerous Tide Pod challenge, it may seem like the Internet is making people more ridiculous by the second, and yet, as easy as it would be to blame modern-day mayhem on technology, history shows us that humanity has always had a penchant for silly and even downright stupid trends.

Goldfish Swallowing

Of course, the best place to find a ruckus is a college campus, and 1930s American university students did not disappoint when it came to outrageous ideas. Throughout the late '30s, many young people took to swallowing whole goldfish as a way of settling everything from student council to class president. Originally, it started out as a bet involving famed geologist Lothrop Withington, Jr. at Harvard University (he even won ten bucks doing it!), but soon, it was a fad across academia, to the point that Massachusetts passed a law banning it on the grounds of cruelty to the fish, which was more often than not consumed live.

Phone Booth Stuffing

By the 1950s, if you weren't half smashed inside a phone booth, were you really even living? In true clown-car fashion, the fad of crowding a horde of humans inside a phone booth for a laugh or a photo-op was a popular pastime. It may be mind boggling to think about, but according to the Associated Press, the all-time record for most human beings jammed into a phone booth was 25.

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Cultivations of tulips in South Holland. (Alessandro Vecchi/Wikimedia Commons)

Tulip Mania

If you thought the 2008 housing market crash was bad, you should have been around for the great tulip bubble burst of 1637. Apparently, spices weren't the only so-called exotic trade enthralling the continent of Europe, as the tulip flower, which originated in the Ottoman Empire, apparently took the Netherlands by storm. A huge market sprang up around the fragrant flower, and soon, anyone who was anyone just had to have the delicate bulb in their homes. Single bulbs of tulips could range anywhere from $1,000 to just under $1 million in today's money, but when the Black Plague disrupted the feverish speculation, the bubble burst and many investors lost everything.