Lyle’s Golden Syrup has been a staple in the pantry of many UK households, dating back to 1881 when Abram Lyle built his sugar refinery on a stretch of the Thames in East London. The golden syrup, a byproduct of the sugar refining process, has since become a piece of British culture, right down to its packaging and iconic lion on the front.
However, take a closer look at the packaging this Christmas, and you may notice something that many consumers have recently discovered, upon adding the item to their Christmas shopping list. The aforementioned lion is dead, with bees swarming over the lifeless body of the big cat.
The packaging, which debuted in 1883, becomes even more macabre when you discover the reasons for the dead lion and bees. The phrase beneath the lion reads “Out of the strong came forth sweetness” is taken almost verbatim from the Judges 14:14 passage from the King James Version of the Old Testament and is regarded as Samson’s Riddle.
The full passage from the bible reads: “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” This quote is in regards to Samson passing by a lion he had recently killed, seeing inside the carcass of the beast bees starting to create honey. Inside the lion, to remind you.
The reason for the macabre biblical reference on the front of Lyle’s Golden Syrup tins has a simple enough explanation: Abram Lyle was a deeply religious individual and the story of Samson he felt was apt for his product. The now trademarked phrase can be used to explain from the lion that was London at that time came a sweet, golden nectar that was poured into the well loved tin.
So next time you’re in the supermarket and need something to remind yourself to pick up a tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup ahead of Christmas Dinner, just think “dead lion, bees in carcass” and hopefully that should jog your memory.