History Lesson: The Boston Molasses Flood of 1919
Twenty one people died on February 15, 1919 on what some call the Boston Molassacre.
Why so much molasses? Quite simply, molasses was the base for most of the sugar consumed in the early 20th century. Processed from cane in the Caribbean Islands, the juices of the boiled liquid would concentrate and could then be shipped without risk of spoiling, stored and then further refined to get different grades of sugar.
In this case was ‘blackstrap’ molasses, (the darker concentrated sludge the result of a third boiling) the type of molasses where most of the sugar has been extracted. It could be used to produce ethanol and this is why it was being stored in this location.
The event entered local folklore and residents claimed for decades afterwards that the area still smelled of molasses on hot summer days.
How did it happen?
Read more about the flood!
Stories from local guides say curious onlookers would come from all around, neighboring states and even Canada. Many would get stuck in the molasses and complain despite fair warning. Some say this is when the term ‘tourist trap’ was coined.
You don't hear much about molasses anymore but it is still a key ingredient of Boston Baked Beans.