Wednesday, January 15

Slower than molasses in January

Did you know that today is the 95th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood?

Molasses is a brown, syrupy by-product of the refining of sugarcane, grapes, or sugar beets into sugar.

Momma has loved molasses ever since reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder eating it on her cornbread in Little House of the Prairie. Over the years she has collected many molasses recipes, so she was quite interested to hear about the Boston Molasses Disaster.

Also known as the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, it occurred on Jan. 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Mass., when a large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 miles per hour, killing 21 and injuring 150.

Several factors might have contributed to the disaster. The tank was poorly constructed and insufficiently tested. It leaked regularly and Boston's poor frequently collected the leaking syrup for home sweetening. In fact, it leaked so often that the owners painted the tank brown to hide the leaks.

Jan. 15, 1919 was also unseasonably warm for Boston. The temperature had risen above 40 °F, climbing rapidly from the frigid temperatures of the preceding days.

It took four days before they stopped searching for victims and many of the dead were so coated in molasses, they were hard to recognize.

It took more than 300 people about two weeks to remove the molasses from the cobblestone streets, theaters, businesses, automobiles, and homes. The harbor was brown with molasses until summer.

The event has entered Boston folklore, and for many decades residents claimed the area still smelled of molasses on hot summer days.


  1. Very interesting.
    Did she find a Shoo-Fly Pie recipe? That uses molasses; though some feel "table syrup" works best.

    1. Very good! I love Shoo-Fly Pie; especially the wet bottom kind.
      Did you know that the PA Dutch would put molasses on their fastnachts? It's awesome on them. :)

    2. No, she did not but she now wants to try it, too!

    3. :-D Slice the fastnacht in half so it opens like a hamburger bun then drizzle a little molasses on the cut side. So yummy!