Syrup vs. Fig Preserves – More Round 2

Here’s a match-up from the Miscellany region as the second round of the Southern Sweets Showdown rolls on. For more on three-seed Fig Preserves, see our previous post on the topic.

"Eat Cane Syrup and Molasses. Save Sugar ...

Image via Wikipedia

Now, about Syrup. It may seem a strange choice in a contest dominated by desserts and treats of every imaginable flavor. After all, unless you’re going through a pretty severe bout of self-loathing, syrup is not the kind of thing you enjoy by itself. But syrup is one of those staples of American cuisine that reveals in its flavor the region from which it hails.

Whereas maple syrup is the norm of northern states, Southern syrups have a flavor all their own. That flavorĀ comes from one of the South’s earliest cash crops: sugar cane. One of the crops that contributed to the reliance on salve labor in the colonial South, sugar cane was a key component of the economy of coastal regions,especially in Louisiana. French colonists’ children would enjoy a treat known as “la cuite” – cane syrup on a stick that was then rolled in crushed pecans.

In the 20th century, pure cane syrup production moved from open fires to factories. Certain brands became icons, like Steen’s with their signature tin cans and AlaGa. (Be sure to click the AlaGa link and watch the video of Bill Cosby talking about the syrup.) Another uniquely Southern brand, Golden Eagle, seems to have arisen to address the fact that our cane syrup can be something of an acquired taste. Golden Eagle combines cane syrup with corn syrup and honey to arrive at a golden appearance and flavor that seems to be infused with pure sunshine.

Those are your contestants. It’s another tough choice, one that will probably draw on your sense of nostalgia more than any objective criterion. Make your choice below. Also, let us know in the comments if you have another favored Southern brand of syrup.

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