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Ideas for a Boston Molassacre party?
December 1, 2010 8:26 PM   Subscribe

My housemates and I have decided to throw a party/memorial on the anniversary of the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919. Help us with ideas?

After an evening of haphazardly wandering around on Wikipedia, my housemates and I stumbled onto the page for the 1919 Boston Molasses Disaster, in which a flood of molasses traveling 35 miles per hour ravaged Boston. We decided that the upcoming anniversary of the event was as good a reason as any for a party, and are now planning particulars. So far, our party ideas have followed three major avenues:
  • Molasses-containing food and drink: specifically, so far, we've thought of cookies and gingerbread, as well as baked beans, some manner of glazed meet, perhaps shoofly pie, and, of course, rum.
  • Period decor and music: we're not really sure what to do, here, but things that say "1919" would be good. Doilies? What else?
  • Things evocative of memorials: we've had various ideas, most of them in questionable taste, like an over-dramatic reading of the names with a bell between, or a reading of a poem, or maybe brown ribbon loops, or something. We're generally the type to get a kick out of being borderline-inappropriate, but where the line will be, here, is TBD.
So yeah, any other ideas, either in these or other categories?
posted by andrewpendleton to Grab Bag (34 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
You may not know this, but Boston Public Library has some really great photos from after the disaster that are up on Flickr inlcuding some newspaper photos.
posted by jessamyn at 8:29 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


An action figures drowning in molasses diorama. Downstream from a tipped over (cardboard? painted tongue depressors?) molasses tank.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:35 PM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Believe it or not, this is not the first AskMe question about music from 1919.
posted by craichead at 8:35 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually the tank was metal so a soup can sans label would work.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:39 PM on December 1, 2010


Ask everyone to come dressed in shades of brown?
posted by gingerbeer at 8:40 PM on December 1, 2010


If you haven't had indian pudding, you should.
posted by tjenks at 8:40 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


@jessamyn I've seen those, yeah, but we'll have to think about how to use them. I might splurge and get some of them printed poster-size, maybe.

@MasonDixon Strong notion. Maybe as a centerpiece?

@craichead Thanks, that's amazing. I looked for molasses things, but for some reason, searching for "1919" didn't occur to me.
posted by andrewpendleton at 8:46 PM on December 1, 2010


I would setup a small village of gingerbread houses, or actually purchase dollhouses and have mollases jugs hung up with tubing that floods the village over the length of the party. Or setup multiple villages so people don't have to all congregate around a single one.

it could get spendy :) but a lot of fun
posted by zombieApoc at 8:54 PM on December 1, 2010


Slow motion charades. Or a slow motion race.
posted by phunniemee at 8:56 PM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


@tjenks Indian pudding sounds perfect, actually, both for food and for the period-things aspect.

@zombieApoc Yeah, some sort of flood simulation thing will probably need to happen.

@phunniemee Genius.
posted by andrewpendleton at 9:01 PM on December 1, 2010


Okay, not sure if you can sub Molasses for the maple syrup but this pie was divine at the Thanksgiving table and very easy to make.
posted by amanda at 9:04 PM on December 1, 2010


Two songs for your playlist:
Were You in Boston in 1919? - a folk tune by Steve Suffet
Molasses - a sea shanty by Tom Rowe (arrr, blimey! Can't find a recording fer ya)
posted by prinado at 9:21 PM on December 1, 2010


You could screen the History Channel's Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters piece on the disaster. (DVD purchase link here, online video here - requires special player download) This is my second answer in a row on AskMeFi that features Engineering Disasters. Man, I love those episodes.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:32 PM on December 1, 2010


Two more tunes!
Molasses molasses (its icky-sticky goo) - Spike Jones
Molasses - The Radiators
posted by prinado at 9:32 PM on December 1, 2010


@amanda I have made this pie (with syrup). It has potential.

@gingerbeer, @puritycontrol, @prinado Great tips, thanks!
posted by andrewpendleton at 9:41 PM on December 1, 2010


Reading that wikipedia article suggests a lot of costume ideas. Maybe this could be done with paper hats to hand out to guests as they arrive. "You're a cadet; you're a Red Cross nurse," etc.

Prizes for party games could be splotches of brown felt that people can pin to their clothes.

Slow motion charades. Or a slow motion race.

Slow motion events for pairs or teams stuck together with velcro, with penalties for breaking free.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:45 PM on December 1, 2010


The Velvet Underground - I'm Sticking with You
Roxy Music - Let's Stick Together
U-Roy - Stick Together
Elvis Presley - Stuck on You
Lionel Ritchie - Stuck on You
Huey Lewis & The News - Happy To Be Stuck With You

Sonic Youth - My Friend Goo
The Cramps - Goo Goo Muck
posted by hydrophonic at 10:02 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


You could make Molasses on Snow Candy , from Little House in the Big Woods.
posted by apricot at 10:03 PM on December 1, 2010


Especially if you're going to do baked beans, you should (must!) do Boston brown bread to go with. It's a molasses soda bread. Traditionally, it's baked in a can. A coffee can often works well.There's a straight-forward version here, and a fancy-schamncy Alton Brown version here.
posted by bonehead at 10:08 PM on December 1, 2010


I found one other modern song -- "Great Molasses Disaster". Not sure if it's party-compatible, but it's well worth a listen.
posted by prinado at 10:28 PM on December 1, 2010


Like shoofly pie, but more aptly named for your party: schadenfreude pie by MeFi's own Scalzi.
posted by knile at 12:03 AM on December 2, 2010


How about a minute's slience at the start in honour of the victims?
posted by stenoboy at 2:16 AM on December 2, 2010 [12 favorites]


Great idea from stenoboy.
posted by jgirl at 4:26 AM on December 2, 2010


Make a molasses-colored jello and put little people inside.

Then write in tiny text on a tiny piece of paper a little meditation on the agonies of suffocating in molasses.
posted by Kattullus at 5:24 AM on December 2, 2010


Not just rum, but good rum! Zaya and Zacapa are becoming more and more commonly available in standard liquor stores. $40 a bottle, but that's some damned fine stuff, and may change the way you think about what rum is supposed to be like.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:40 AM on December 2, 2010



Make a molasses-colored jello and put little people inside.

Then write in tiny text on a tiny piece of paper a little meditation on the agonies of suffocating in molasses.


And you can draw tortured, agonized expressions on their faces! Heehee! Fun!
posted by jgirl at 5:59 AM on December 2, 2010


How about a minute's slience at the start in honour of the victims?

That doesn't sound like much fun. How about a "how much molasses can you drink in a minute" competition in honour of the victims?
posted by Ted Maul at 6:03 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]



That doesn't sound like much fun. How about a "how much molasses can you drink in a minute" competition in honour of the victims?


I believe molasses has a strong laxative effect. More fun!

Do buy a 12-roll pack for that one.
posted by jgirl at 6:12 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ooh, jgirl appears to be correct.

ain't gonna make no flood jokes
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:21 AM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't actually get into the specific blackness of my own sense of humor and sense of the absurd in tragedy, but it's based on dealing with humans and animals in extreme and miserable situations, and also a lot of death. So I understand having a commemoration of the absurd. I think this could be a really cool and darkly funny historical party. Good rum should certainly be involved.

However, I encourage you to use the ideas that aren't openly flippant about the loss of life, and to skip things like overly dramatic readings of the names. Take stenoboy's suggestion of a sincere moment of silence for the deaths and injuries (and the deaths of animals). Just one. It's perfectly possible to have a moment of quiet memorial without drowning (pun intended) the festive mood, especially if you do have a dark sense of humor. Think Irish wake. Why not finish the moment of silence with a toast of good rum? Given the controversy over whether or not corporate worries regarding the advent of Prohibition contributed to the negligence, I think that ties in nicely.

There is plenty of absurdity in the molasses incident without making light of the dead.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 6:49 AM on December 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Molasses race. Setup a ramp like a slot car race and race different brands. You could put up little plastic people and award bonus points for knocking them over.
posted by advicepig at 9:14 AM on December 2, 2010


If you promise to stop doing the @ thing, I'll give you my recipe for a delicious molasses wheat bread....












Okay, you've promised, right? Good. Here's the recipe.

Molasses Wheat Bread

2pkg yeast
3T sugar
1T salt
2c liquid (water or milk)
1/2c molasses
2T shortening
1-1/2 c wheat flour
5-1/2c white flour

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 of the liquid, warmed to ~100F.

Mix 1st five ingredients. Add shortening. Gradually add flours. Knead until smooth.

Let rise 2 hours, or until doubled. Punch and turn.

Let rise 45 minutes in loaf pans.

Bake at 350 for ~30 minutes, or until done. Cool on wire racks.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:22 AM on December 2, 2010


Wow, so many great ideas! This is why I love the Internet. mudpuppie (look, no at-sign! Twitter habits die hard, I guess), this is for two 9x5 loaf pans, I assume?
posted by andrewpendleton at 12:41 PM on December 2, 2010


Yep, two regular-sized bread pans. Sorry -- the recipe is a little abbreviated because I've made it so many times, then I typed it into Google docs so I'd have access to it away from home.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:16 PM on December 2, 2010


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