In taking part in this event, several college students would squeeze themselves into a telephone booth, one after another, until no one else could fit in. Of course, the more people who could fit in, the better, and universities everywhere saw students skipping class in order to try and devise a plan to set a record.
The fad is often associated with college students from the west coast of the United States but it was, in fact, started in South Africa. Twenty-five students there were able to pack in a booth and announce that they had set a world record in doing so. Soon students in England, Canada and the United States were attempting to top that mark. Some students in England went on diets, and some at M.I.T. attempted to used geometry and calculus as a manner of determining the precise method to achieve the highest efficiency for stuffing. When they found themselves unable to pile more and more friends into the booths, they began challenging other universities’ “credibility” because of supposed violations of “rules” which should have been adhered to. Some claimed all participants must keep their entire bodies within the booth, while others specified that someone inside was required to place a call.
The fad died out within a year in the United States (1959) but was reincarnated in the form of Volkswagen stuffing a few years later.
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