Molasses: The Silent Killer

Molasses: The Silent Killer

Brown sugar, one might argue that it’s better than the plain white variety with its deep dark notes of flavor, and its distinctive, intoxicating aroma. As a child, I used to sneak the little hard chunks that would form in the bag and suck on them in a kind of weird sugar-induced rapture. I still love the stuff but I’ve managed to break that particular habit and I now get my brown sugar in a slightly more refined fashion.  Invariably though it would seem that I am almost always out of it. Or rather it’s become a solid brick at the back of the cupboard that must be alternately beaten and cajoled into submission before it is usable.


Brown sugar despite its manifest characteristics so poignantly expressed above is a really quite simple union of ingredients, made of nothing more than its humble sister, white granulated sugar and molasses.

That’s right, molasses, the linchpin of homespun Appalachian cooking. That familiar syrup, the consistency of runny tar that’s generally added to cattle feed. “Granny” Moses’ black gold is the secret ingredient behind brown sugar.  

By keeping a jar of the stuff around you now have access to brown sugar in nearly endless quantities and in both its light and dark varieties.

Brown Sugar

add a tablespoon of molasses to 1 cup of white sugar and using a hand mixer or even a fork, blend the two together thoroughly. And there you have it! If making the darker variant sometimes called for in recipes, simply add two tablespoons of molasses instead of one.


Molasses, the silent killer. Imagine it. It’s the year 1919 on a cold January afternoon, the 19th to be precise, when a 2 million gallon holding tank of molasses bursts right in the middle of downtown Boston swallowing up 21 unsuspecting civilians!

I believe there is a rather popular old adage about the speed of molasses in January which calls into question if the people must have been sleeping when they died as how else could they have allowed themselves to be overcome by a river of the stuff flowing down the street at a velocity no greater than that attained by slugs?

Even though this was an isolated incident doesn’t it still surprise you that molasses is responsible for the deaths of 21 people?

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