Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Entry: Boston Molasses Disaster

This is tragic and in no way totally awesome.

The blurb at the top of the article pretty much says it all: "The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. A large molasses tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150."

I've long held the opinion that any food, given that it is in enough quantity, eventually becomes really disgusting. You know: bulk jars of maraschino cherries, buckets of salad, Michael Moore's lunch (HIYOOOOO!)... I assumed that when I see a food item in such a vast quantity, my mind simultaneously interprets it as something I can eat (because it's a food item), and something that I can't eat (because there's so much of it), and the result is repulsion. But now, I see it's a survival response.

The 35 mph speed is interesting, too. My original response was "35 mph? Pfft.", but then I realized that it was with regards to a substance that is a cliche hallmark for slowness. Plus this was 1919, when nothing when 35 mph, ever. And considering that the company that owned the molasses factory "ultimately paid out $600,000 in out-of-court settlements (at least $6.6 million in 2005 dollars)"... relatively speaking, the wave of molasses must have caused a sonic boom.

Also, I don't know what the status of syrup production is in Boston today, but to be on the safe side, I encourage my Massachucetts readers to wear flotation devices at all times. You can't be too careful, kids.


Galadriel said...

I learned this from Wikipedia toda:

I saw a link to it and read the text of the link, said, "No way, this can't be true!" Went to our friend the Wiki, said, "No way, it seems this is true! Man, paleontologists are AWEsome!"

The only thing better would be if "The Horrendous Space Kablooie" were universally adopted, rather than sporadically.

I still mourn The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes, both lost to us on the same tragic day.

Dossy said...

I've read that drowning is one of the most agonizing ways to die.

Now, imagine drowning in molasses. Slowly, as it asphyxiates you, oozing into your nostrils and throat.

Those poor bastards ...

Pooka said...

As opposed to...


"The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub..."

"The wave left nine people dead: eight due to drowning and one from alcohol poisoning."

Why don't we learn about this stuff in history class? Srsly.

Chrys said...

BMD is also a band. They follow-friended me on Twitter after mentioning this article.


Sari Everna said...

Thank you. I will now whip out this article any time my mom uses the phrase "slower than molasses in January".