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Comedians to stomach ‘surstromming’ for a good cause

Published on

Cathy Dobson

John Hollingsworth believes he has a nose for a good fundraiser.

When he came across a YouTube video of a father challenging his family to stay in the room while he ate the stinkiest food known to man, Hollingsworth figured he struck gold.

Surstromming is a type of fermented Baltic Sea herring, believed to have been eaten by the Vikings. It’s a Swedish delicacy and canned with just enough salt to prevent it from rotting.

Newly opened cans of surstromming have emitted what are considered by some to be the most putrid smells of any food in the world.

It’s so stinky that it is banned in North America and several airlines refuse to transport it in case the cans explode and the stench escapes.

In June, the McCloskey family of Colorado was shown in a YouTube video while their father opened a can of surstromming and ate a piece of the slimy contents.

Their attempts to wretch, snort and laugh their way through the ordeal has attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers.

“I saw it and I thought, I can do that,” said Hollingsworth. Then I thought, if I do that, who can benefit?”

Hollingsworth, who is a member of the Fidgets Improv Comedy trio based out of Sarnia, has designed a fundraiser called The Great Stinky Fish Challenge to benefit The Inn of the Good Shepherd.

The food bank’s supply is low this time of year and could use a boost from the community, he said.

“When I approached the Inn, they said they were really looking forward to watching one of us eat this stuff.”

The first challenge was to obtain a tin of surstromming. Hollingsworth found one on eBay for $70. When it arrived in the mail from a fellow named Anders Norberg in Sweden, the yellow tin was distorted by the gases inside pushing out.

The next challenge was to get the two other Fidgets onboard. Dave Lane and Chris Reid joke that they have weak stomachs but they’re willing to hold their noses for a good cause.

The three comics’ names are posted on The Fidgets website under the Great Stinky Fish Challenge. Voting started last week to determine which of the Fidgets will eat the surstromming during a live K106 radio broadcast on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Everyone is invited to vote by clicking on John, Dave or Chris’ name and donating. The guy with the most donations has to eat the fish just after the 8 a.m. news.

“We’ll find out who will be the big winner – or big loser,” said Hollingsworth.

The can won’t be opened indoors, he stressed.

He’s already getting a little concerned he might have to eat some surstromming. After a couple of days of voting, Hollingsworth was leading the donations with $125 versus $10 for Dave and $5 for Chris.

“I’m working on suppressing my gag reflex,” he laughed.

One hundred per cent of the proceeds go to the Inn’s food bank.




VOTE – Visit and vote by donation.

UNVEILING – Sept. 14 on K106 at 8 a.m. the Fidget with the most donations eats the most memorable breakfast of his life.

HOMEWORK – Check out the Youtube video that inspired it all at  .


The Arts Journal focuses on events and people that make the Sarnia community colourful and rich. Send your ideas to [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.



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