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Funny Label Fridays: Lyle’s Old-Timey Tin

November 19, 2010

Here’s a product I used in yesterday’s candied pecans. Lyle’s Golden Syrup has been produced in the same tin since 1885, securing it a place in Guinness as Britain’s oldest brand. It’s a sugar-syrup or “treacle,” used on pancakes, for baking and anywhere else we Americans might use corn syrup (although it’s thicker and not quite as sweet.)

Although it’s a bit hard to make out, the image is meant to be the rotting carcass of a lion surrounded by a swarm of bees. Gross.

The “lion and bees” tin is actually a biblical reference to Judges 14, in which Samson kills a lion and some bees make honey in its carcass. Samson subsequently turns this into an enraging and impossible-to-solve riddle for his Philistine groomsmen (impossible because they hadn’t witnessed the lion or the honey): “Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.” The whole incident is essentially an excuse to pick a fight kill some Philistines, an occupying force at the time. Apparently Abraham Lyle was a fan.

As much as I’d like to think this was Lyle’s way of sticking it to one overlord or another, he was probably just alluding to the idea that his sweet syrup was the bi-product of the industrial process of refining sugar.

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