“Out of the strong came forth sweetness…” The Storty of Lyle’s Golden Syrup

Lyle's Golden Syrup_05

The story of golden syrup starts in 1881when the Scottish businessman Abram Lyle set up a sugar-refinery in London on the Thames with his five sons, processing sugar cane into sugar loaves. In those days, sugar was bought in large tapering mounds that had to be Lyle's Golden Syrup_07pounded or grated by hand at home. One byproduct of the process was a thick, gloopy syrup that with a little more refining through charcoal was very delicious. So he sold it to his workers from large barrels (Lyle was originally a cooper) and the syrup quickly was anointed with the nickname “Goldy”. Soon, Goldy became popular outside of his workforce and everyone wanted some. Just two years later, in 1883, Lyle’s Golden Syrup was born.

It is the tin the golden syrup that comes in that is the icon of both British cookery and Victorian entrepreneurship. Famously, on the front is a drawing of a dead lion peppered with swarming bees. Abram Lyle was a very pious man, and used the story of Samson in the book of Judges in Old Testament as the inspiration for the design. Quite a while before his fateful haircut, Samson got attacked by a lion which, through His power, Samson was able to rip open, killing it. Later he sees that bees have built a hive within its carcass and he takes some honey to his family and friends and they have a feast. He didn’t tell them about the lion and had them guess how he came about all the honey, presenting them with the poser:

And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.

Judges 14:14

Tins were first produced in 1884 and unbelievably have not changed at all in their design since. In fact, the recipe for the syrup has never changed either – making Lyle’s Golden Syrup the oldest brand in the world. “You’d be mad to mess with Lyle's Golden Syrup_06Goldie.” The only slight change is to the weights written on the tin: gone are the “1 lb” and “2 lb” marks, their replacement being the “454 g” and “907 g” marks, to keep in line with EU rulings. Another change occurred during the Second World War when, because of tin shortages, Lyle had to make the ‘tins’ from cardboard instead.

For over 125 years, it has been indispensable – it was even taken on Captain Scott’s fateful trek to the Antarctic. He wrote a letter to the Lyle family:

“Your Golden Syrup has been in daily use in this hut throughout the winter, and has been much appreciated by all members of the expedition.”

Lyle's Golden Syrup_03Lyle's Golden Syrup_04

In 1950, the Lyle Company brought out a second iconic product: Lyle’s Black Treacle. It is very similar to molasses, though it is considerably thicker and stronger tasting. For any recipes that ask for black treacle, you can substitute molasses instead with no problems.

Lyle's Golden Syrup_02

In the American classic The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, there is a recipe for Cornish Treacle Tart (which is actually made from Golden Syrup). In that recipe it asks for three-quarters of a cup of dark corn syrup. Do not on no account ever, ever, substitute golden syrup for corn syrup. The two are incomparable. So, I urge the American public: if you use a recipe that asks for Golden Syrup and you cannot get hold of any, don’t bother making it. Do you hear me? Good, then we understand each other. Amazon’s grocery section stocks it, so you can always get it online.

Lyle's Golden Syrup_01

Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Black Treacle are part of so many wonderful recipes, it would be crazy listing them all, but here are some of the most important or interesting ones.

Treacle tart
Treacle sponge pudding
Mrs Beeton’s rolled treacle pudding
Golden syrup cake
Aunt Nelly’s pudding
Malt loaf
Jamaican ginger cake
Ma Buttery’s crunch
Bonfire toffee
Christmas cake

Click the thumbnail below
to find a lot of these recies

Lyle thumb

Article found on britishfoodhistory.wordpress.com

6 thoughts on ““Out of the strong came forth sweetness…” The Storty of Lyle’s Golden Syrup

  1. Ann Norman says:

    Thank you Ted, this article has such a lot of interesting info I didn’t know about the so-familiar golden syrup! I am looking at an old tin with the lion and bees now, used to keep pens and pencils in. Howvever, as a Brit, I’m not familiar with corn syrup. Why is it not comparable and shouldn’t ever be used as a substitute?

    Liked by 1 person

    • tidiousted says:

      I’am a Norwegian a myself Ann, and corn syrup isn’t even for sale here in Norway so I can’t help you with that. But what I do know is that corn syrup is just about the cheapest sort of sweetening you can get in the US, and that does not say much for its quality. The fact that quality soda producers in the US make quite a number out of the fact that they use Demerara, not corn syrup to sweeten their sodas says quite a lot too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ann Norman says:

    Thank you, that’s new to me. Have never seen corn syrup for sale here in the UK either. I agree that if a US food manufacturer pushes the point that they use demerara, not corn syrup, it says a lot! Especially during the current fuss about cutting out sugar for health. I avoid most ready-made baked foods already (the nasty tastes and textures!) and this makes me even more wary about the ingredients of much commercially-made foods.

    Liked by 1 person

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