Golden Syrup aka Goldie

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Golden Syrup has been through it all an expedition to one of the coldest places known to man, the trenches and the Blitz to name but a few periods in history that it has popped up in. It has also been transported around the world being consumed not only in Britain but Australia and China.

Waste Not Want Not

If you were able to take a peek inside a cupboard belonging to that of a person from the Victorian era and one owned by a 21st Century individual you'd soon see a lot that was different. However, take a look again and you'd see that both these people had a sweet tooth for they are both likely to have a tin of Lyle's Golden Syrup.

Born in 1820, Abram Lyle grew up acquainted with the port Greenock in Scotland. He started his working life as a cooper, making barrels for a living and bought into a sugar refinery where he learnt how to make sugar and the syrup we are acquainted with today. He became financially well off and later adopted the lifestyle of being a provost (a mayor) and a benefactor of many Greenock institutions.

Meanwhile, he had realised that money could be made in vast amounts in London and in 1881, he sent two of his sons to Plaistow, London with one mission to create and run a sugar refinery. The refinery started working in 1883, but was soon threatened by closure as the firm came across problems with their cargoes. Lyle was determined that his sons should continue and knew that during the sugar refining process a thick, gooey, treacly, substance could be made by taking half of the sugar seperating it into its constituent parts leaving fructose and glucose then reuniting these with the other half, resulting in golden syrup, bar a few secret processes. This substance usually went to waste, but it could equally be seen as a preservative and sweetener that could be used in cooking.

'Goldie' as it affectionately came to be called was first sold to employees and local customers and transported in wooden caskets. Once those closest to the business heard and tasted this fine substance, it was hard not to spread the news of how delicious it was and soon shops were clamouring for dispensers to be installed in their properties so they could sell this sweety, sticky, substance. These were later replaced by tins in 1885. When the First World War broke out the gold liquid substance was sold in thick cardboard packaging but the oozing golden syrup returned to being sold in tins soon afterwards. The tins themselves are created using flat sheets of steel that are fused together to make a cylinder shape before the bottom and top are securely put on. Then the mixture is added at a rate of 240 tins per minute.

Competition Among Companies

Not far from the site on which the Lyle family had established their sugar refinery was another one. This time it belonged to Sir Henry Tate's family who hailed from Liverpool. Although it is said that the main masterminds behind the companies did not meet, they did hold a general understanding that the Lyle factory would never specialise in sugar cubes like the Tates did and equally the Tate family would not step foot on the premises of the Lyle factory.

At the end of the Victorian era the Lyle family obtained a royal warrant from George V, which is renewed by every monarch. The syrup also met approval by Captain Scott in October 1911, who took Goldie on his expedition to the South Pole and wrote a letter of thanks to Lyle saying: 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.

In 1921 competition among these two companies came to an end as the Lyle company joined forces with the Tate refinery that started in 1859. In combining the companies created Tate and Lyle Plc, which became known as the only UK sugar refinery and the biggest operator in Europe.

Reaction to Religion

Unlike many products that change with time, Lyle's golden syrup and the tins that contain this velvety elixir that lasts longer than a good bottle of wine have not altered during the years the syrup has been in production. This is a fact that was duly recognised by the Guinness World Records in 2006. Research also shows that over 85% of people instantly recognise the product, but how many of these people knew that the trademark of a dead lion surrounded by bees arose from Lyle's reading of The Old Testament (Book of Judges 14:14) and the slogan Out of the strong came forth sweetness was altered from the biblical character Samson's saying, Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness. In this way the Victorian era from which it derives is reflected upon suggests Dr Kate Thomas, a Victorian expert at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia Its image of the lion and the bees and the biblical quotation testify to a peculiarly Victorian mix of moralism, industrial drive and budding concern for social welfare.

Today (2008), the company Tate and Lyle are still going from strength to strength and this year are celebrating the syrup's 125th birthday by selling it in special gold coloured tins. However, the company won't let their record stop just yet stating Don't worry. We are still continuing with the old green tins, too, or else we would lose our record. And that would never do.


This Entry wold not be complete without a set of recipes that golden syrup can be found in.

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