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A Sugar By Any Other Name? And an AngloFiles Recipe!

September 23, 2010

No matter what you call it, I'll still be needing the dentist!

The American Corn Refiners Association wants a new name for high fructose corn syrup, according to the New York Times — something truthier, maybe, to match the new ad campaign that touts the demon sweetener as “a natural ingredient made from corn.” They propose “corn sugar.”

Wise move, perhaps drawn from the playbook of the iconic British goo that the Guinness Book of World Records has deemed Britain’s oldest brand: Lyle’s Golden Syrup, still made in the U.K. in a refinery in Silvertown, East London. Abram Lyle, the Scots-born son of a cooper (barrel maker), made his fortune shipping cargo, including sugar, before turning to refining it at home in England. By further processing the sticky byproduct created by processing cane into white sugar, Lyle created a new fix for the British sweet tooth and named it for its color.

The green and gold packaging has changed little since he first poured it into tins in 1885. Its lion-and-bees logo, drawn from the biblical story of Samson, was registered as a trademark in 1904.  Lyle later merged his business with that of Henry Tate, a grocer turned sugar baron who brought Britons the sugar cube in 1875. (Tate’s art bequest, in 1899, formed the core of one of the world’s great museums.)

The Tate & Lyle name stuck to the syrup for more than a century, but just this year, the firm sold the treacly product to (gasp!) an American firm. Like sweetness on the tongue, nothing lasts forever.

To my London-born mother-in-law, Sheila, Lyle’s Golden used to seem almost as rare and valuable as molten gold itself: On rare trips home to Blighty, she and Poppa used to cart it home by the suitcase (crushed tins were sometimes a problem), along with Heinz Baked Beans and a mayonnaisey goop called “Salad Cream.”

But now you can get Lyle’s in your local U.S. supermarket. So I’ll pass along one of Sheila’s recipes using the stuff. It came to her from Evelyn Sutcliffe of Lancashire, a friend of Sheila’s mother’s as well as the mother of her own lifelong friend, Margaret. Here is how to make Flapjack, which is not pancakes but a sort of golden oatmeal-blondie.

Nanny Sheila’s AngloFile Flapjack

4 oz. margarine
3 oz.* sugar
4 oz.* flour
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
2 tsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz. oatmeal
½ tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together margarine and sugar. Add syrup and vanilla, then dry ingredients. Bake in a greased 8-inch-square dish for about 20 minutes.

*an ounce of sugar or flour comes to roughly a tablespoon

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Julia permalink
    September 23, 2010 7:29 am

    Really interesting post! Re high fructose corn syrup, it was also demonized in the documentary King Corn, which I thought failed to really explain why this form of sugar is to be avoided more than others. Looking forward to trying Sheila’s flapjacks!

    • September 23, 2010 7:45 am

      Anglofiles is no MD, unlike SOME people, and lacks an English sweet tooth herself, but I’ve followed the Great Corn Syrup Wars a bit. To nutritionists, it seems, glucose is fructose is glucose — they’re all sweets and equally caloric. But fructose in an apple comes with fiber and vitamins, while liquid “corn sugar” rarely does. HFCS’s worst offense seems to be that it’s federally subsidized (via the USDA)) and therefore a cheap fix.

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