One muggy morning in 1932, a 33-year-old Maryland real estate man named Sterling Grover Harris (who had made a good thing of buying Eastern Shore lands from farmers, reselling to rich Northerners) wandering around the Chesapeake Bay fish-docks, found a Negro shoveling savory blue crabs into an incinerator. No slugabed, Businessman Harris poked his nose into the crab industry, found 1) that blue crabs will keep for only a few days in ice, 2) that they had never been canned successfully, because their flesh turned a poisonous-looking blue.

Last week a paper—"Canned...

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