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We need to ban vaping. No, you don’t need a herring aid. We’ve contemplated life if it carries on under the Tobacco Products Directive - and fins are serious. We’ve not been at the sauce, we aren’t pickled. Kipper lid on it for the moment, but we reckon we’ve sean … err, sea’n … no, this isn’t working, the pun machine is broke
Surströmming. What is it? Where does it come from? Can a doctor clear it up if it’s caught early enough? The answer is that we don’t know. Well, we know it’s herring, but shortly after you appreciate this fact everything becomes a huge bucketload of “You what?!”
For reasons only known to themselves, 16th Century Swedes took rotten Baltic sea herrings and fermented them for a minimum of six months until they got all bitter and incredibly stinky. Then they ate them. At least some of them did. Enough for the next generation of Swedes to give it a go too. And so on. Until the Internet was invented and the world discovered Surströmming – and also found out that almost all Swedes have never heard of it until they read the Internet.
But it’s hardly caviar or a juicy burger, what gives it an element of desirability? It could be the retch-inducing stench when the tin is opened, it could be the repulsive taste – but we reckon it’s because of the bans.
First off, European politicians (being European politicians) tried to ban the fearsome fishy feast because it is too high in polychlorinated biphenyl. We simply aren’t allowed to make our own choices, right? Anyway, Sweden won a special concession on the basis that they made a good argument or invented Vikings or something.
Then it was time for British Airways and Air France to led all of the airline companies in bringing in their own ban. They argued that the fermentation caused the tins to become pressurised – and therefore constituted little fishy bombs that could go off without any notice.
The Swedish Surströmming Academy cried out: “Oh for Cods hake!” They pointed out flights should ban champagne and French cheese as it posed as much risk.
But when things get banned people become interested in seeing it, touching it and trying it. The plane operators did more than the politicians could manage with a deft swish of a pen on a document: they made Surströmming interesting to the world. They made Surströmming a little bit sexy.
And so our government has launched its big plan to combat the remaining problem of stubborn smoking-related diseases in the UK. They see vaping as a major part of the solution, which is nice. But our message to them is simple: make vaping devices illegal and force liquid manufacturers to make juices smell bad, taste awful and come in sealed tins. Remaining smokers know all about ecigs, they are choosing not to use them – so give them a reason, make it exciting like Surströmming.