Thursday, December 17, 2009


On November 20, my friend Dave put the attached note on his Facebook page:

“Brer Rabbit Molasses on an English Muffin, and a banana, was a good breakfast. How about that for a high fructose corn product elimination?”

At first, it seemed to be an unusual breakfast, but the more that I thought about it, the more sense it made.

A day or so later, I tried some molasses on my pancakes, and I have subsequently had it in my oatmeal a few times. Both combinations were so good that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before.

Sharon has always uses molasses in her ginger cookies, but I never realized that it had uses other than that.

It also got me wondering, “what exactly IS molasses?”.

When I plugged the term into Google, I discovered that there are LOTS more uses than I previously had imagined:

who do you know that’s slower than molasses in January?

Just for fun, I also plugged “molasses” into YouTube to see what songs popped up and, fiddle dee dee, I found a BUNCH.

Woody Herman’s swing band had a version, Andy Williams did a version for the movie “Judge Roy Bean”, the movie “1776” had a song titled “molasses to rum”, and the groups Radiohead, The Hush Sound, and Mista also did versions.

My favorite version, though, was the fiddle tune performed by the group Bearfoot in Sedona, Arizona, which is one of my favorite cities:

Molasses is a byproduct of the refining of either cane sugar or beet sugar, but some of the countries in the Middle East make it from other foods.

There are three grades of molasses that are made from cane sugar:
(1) Mild, or first molasses
(2) Dark, or second molasses
(3) blackstrap molasses

Blackstrap molasses contains a significant number of vitamins and minerals. It is often sold as a health supplement, and is also used in cattle feed and in other industrial uses.

The process of refining beet sugar results in only one grade of molasses, but also produces intermediate syrups called high green and low green.

Just like the lowly peanut, molasses is used in a variety of ways that few of us realize. It can be made into rum, can be used in the mortar for brickwork, can be used to remove rust, can be used as an alternative fuel in motor vehicles, can be used to treat burns, can be smoked in a water pipe, can be used for fish bait, can be used in gardening, can be used as an iron supplement, and is frequently used in the making of Shoofly pie and brown sugar.

There’s an old saying that nothing is as slow as molasses in January, but there was one point in our nation’s history that just the opposite was true.

On the morning of January 15, 1919, a huge molasses storage tank on the north side of Boston burst, sending a wave of molasses nearly 15 feet high at a speed of 35 miles per hour through the streets of Boston.

The force of the flood was strong enough to knock a train off its tracks, demolish several buildings, kill 21 people and several horses, and injure 150 additional people:

we’re in for a heap of trouble here, Martha.

On October 15, 2009, a flock of sheep in northern Jordan caught fire and exploded, which made for a very unhappy day for the poor guy who was out there simply tending to his flock.

In the same vein, if you saw a wave of molasses coming towards you at the speed of a locomotive, the rest of the day isn’t going to be very pretty.

The next time you bite into a warm and chewy ginger cookie, your new knowledge will help you to have a better appreciation of the humble brown syrup that was once strong enough to derail a train.

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