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For years, I’d been meaning to write a story about frozen herring. In 2014, in the course of my research on sugar I’d come across a scandal from the 1890s, where the Treasury Department accused the fishermen of Gloucester, Massachusetts of conspiring with customs officials there to import herring without paying any taxes. The roots of the issue, it turned out, went back decades and even involved real hand-to-hand fighting between American and Canadian (well, Newfoundlander) sailors. It was a fun story and I considered pitching it to the Atlantic or Slate or some similar publication.

One Monday morning in early June, just after Trump started a trade war with Canada, I realized that if I were ever going to write the piece, now was the time. So I did, and here it is! I can’t say it lit the internet on fire, but I’m quite proud of it (which is all down to Kathy and her wonderful editorship).

Also, it resulted in this golden tweet.