In virtually every British kitchen you will find a tin of Lyle's Golden Syrup. It is often called treacle. In our house we use it to sweeten porridge, spread on pancakes and it is in several flapjack recipes. Golden syrup was a by-product of the sugar refining business established by Abram Lyle and his three sons on the banks of the River Thames in 1881.
We have all grown up with that distinctive green and golden tin. It is a design that goes right back to the nineteenth century. In fact, Lyle's Golden Syrup is officially recognised by The Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest brand.
In the middle of the tin design there's a dead lion with a cloud of bees hovering over him. The design image comes from Abram Lyle’s religious beliefs: it’s a reference to a story in the Old Testament, in which Samson killed a lion, then saw that bees had formed a honeycomb in the lion’s carcass. The Bible references Samson’s words that also feature on the tin “Out of the strong came forth sweetness”.
It wasn't until 1950 that Lyles (now Tate and Lyles) launched their black treacle - mimicking the timeless Golden Syrup tin design but with red as the predominant colour. This product is mainly used in some rich cake recipes and in treacle toffee.
I have had a spoonful of Lyle's golden syrup already today. In recent weeks, Shirley and I have switched our breakfasting preference to porridge. We make it in the microwave. A cup full of rolled oats in a medium sized mixing bowl. A little salt. Add hot water and cold milk. Stir. The mixture should be like wallpaper paste before it has set. Then stick in the microwave for three and a half minutes. I like my porridge to be quite stiff - not sloppy so getting the liquid content right involves some trial and error. When it's done the porridge is spooned into a breakfast bowl - spoonful of treacle and a little more milk and it's done. Into the strong goes forth sweetness - and fresh porridge of course.