January 15, 1919 was a sticky day, indeed, in Boston’s North End.
Over 2 million gallons of molasses flowed, reputedly at 35 miles per hour, through the streets, cresting at 25 feet and ultimately killing 11 people, with massive damage to structures in its path. The disaster occurred when a 50 foot high tank ruptured, reputedly sounding like a freight train as the gooey liquid coursed down the streets.
Molasses has played a significant role in Bostonian culinary history since the earliest days. Barrels of it were sitting on ships next to the cartons of tea tossed into the harbor by patriots in 1773. It was, and is, a key ingredient in the production of rum, as well as classics such as Indian pudding and Boston baked beans.
Molasses cookies are a staple in the dessert repertoire in the US, but on the other side of the pond, a similar product, treacle, is made into tarts, rich and delicious, although that’s one sweet best in small portions.
It was at the Union Oyster House, America’s Oldest Restaurant, that myMEGusta first heard about this event, commemorated to this day by Sam Adams Brewery with their Colonial Ale, available exclusively at this Bostonian landmark.
The bartender challenged us to guess the special flavoring, and was surprised when myMEGusta said “molasses!” right away. The brew isn’t sweet by any means; it just has a note of molasses in the finish, and is really quite tasty, particularly accompanied by local bivalves.