Molasses-Colored Glasses: WPA and Sundry Sources on Molasses and Southern Foodways

After the Louisiana Purchase, sugar cultivation for national and international markets gradually became limited to Florida and Louisiana, but sugar cane was still grown for local consumption in states like Virginia and Alabama. Ashland Belle Helene Plantation (here) produced 24,000 gallons of molasses in the 1870s. Photograph courtesy of the Collections of Library of Congress.

ACCESS PURCHASE
Students and scholars can access articles for free via Project Muse.

Molasses-Colored Glasses: WPA and Sundry Sources on Molasses and Southern Foodways

by Frederick Douglass Opie
Southern Cultures, Vol. 14, No. 1: Spring 2008

"Poor white and black southerners ate molasses in some form with almost every meal."

Molasses has been one of the three Ms of the diet of southern common folks, along with meat (salt pork) and meal (corn meal). It has served as a baking ingredient, condiment, and cold remedy, and it was central to special-occasion meals in the South. We can draw on a range of sources, including travelers’ accounts, autobiography, community studies,¬†WPA¬†narratives, and interviews conducted for the Origins of Soul Food Oral History Project to examine its importance and its changing role in southern foodways.