London Beer Flood and other food disasters


40 Responses to “London Beer Flood and other food disasters”

  1. Palefire says:

    Okay, 8 people were killed which is unfortunate.  But really, how can you really consider a beer flood a disaster?  Half of the men in America want to die this way.

  2. NoOneSpecific says:

    The great “Boston Molasses Disaster” of 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919…

  3. Guest says:

    I’ve heard that on a hot august afternoon you can still catch a whiff of the molasses.

    • Spriggan_Prime says:

      In certain older basements of the North End that haven’t been heavily redone this is still true. I haven’t ever smelled it out doors but many claim it still.

  4. dculberson says:

    “My brother and I used to say that drowning in beer was like heaven,
    eh? Now he’s not here, and I got two soakers… This isn’t heaven,
    this sucks!”  -Bob Mackenzie

  5. Xof says:

    I am ecstatic to see the Boston Molasses Disaster getting more press. It is my favorite food-based industrial accident of all time.

  6. Chuck Holt says:

    But how do we know that the supposed “victims” hadn’t already drank themselves to death, leaving their beer-soaked corpses for the city to clean up?  Explain that one.

  7. Cicada Mania says:

    Now that’s what I call a sticky situation.

  8. Mike Wood says:

    Awesome. I love it. This is the kind of disaster that simply doesn’t happen anymore. Like Jumbo the Elephant getting hit by a train in a little town in Ontario, or that famous photo of the train wreck at Paris’ Montparnasse station. 

    Someone hire a couple of interns, do the research and write a book. I want it. 

    • Bernard Dubuisson says:

      “This is the kind of disaster that simply doesn’t happen anymore.”

      A few weeks ago, in Belgium, an ice cream store manager died from the explosion of a pressurized whipped cream tank (apparently a defect manometer problem — he just kept on filling the tank until it blew in his face). OK, maybe not a Great Food Disaster but still a relevant way of dying from food injury.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        A couple of years ago, Xeni posted a story (which I sent her) about a guy dying in a vat of chocolate. About a hundred commenters excoriated her for reporting on it. Beer and molassesplosions don’t raise an eyebrow.

        The moral of the story: one food death is a tragedy, multiple food deaths are high-larious.

      • Beanolini says:

        “This is the kind of disaster that simply doesn’t happen anymore.”

        A few weeks ago, in Belgium,

        And a couple of months ago, five people were killed in a moonshine explosion in the other Boston. Again, not quite ‘great’.

    • Ed Gaillard says:

      There’s a good book about the Boston Molasses Flood:  Stephen Puleo’s Dark Tide

  9. Robert Cruickshank says:

     The new slogan, after the brewery reopened with stronger vats: “Tastes great, less killing”.

  10. traalfaz says:

    The Boston Mollasses Disaster was covered on History Channel’s “Engineering Disasters” show a bunch of years ago.  The tank was designed by someone who had no clue what he was doing, just hotdog engineering by what seemed right.  It was horribly under strength.

  11. cservant says:

    I remember seeing this on TV, the Boston disaster.  Apparently, one of the problems was the significant temperature change the tank experienced during that particular day.  The change was either local weather or the new addition of molasses, or both that caused the fermentation process to accelerate, thus causing the explosion.

    For sure it was not overfilled.

  12. humansaretheproblem says:

    Actually, this never happened. It was a fake release published by Anheuser Busch to scare consumers away from its competition. In fact, soon after AB started running advertisements in New England newspapers touting its own safety record and telling consumers not to buy beer from the company that was “allegedly” involved.

    Within six months the Purity Distilling Company had closed for good, and guess who bought its assets in bankruptcy auctions? You guessed in — Anheuser Busch.

    But I think what’s most amazing is that despite the evidence of AB’s involvement leaking in the 1950′s, this same story continues to be told.

  13. Stefan Jones says:

    I read that if there’s ever a High Fructose Corn Syrup flood all life on Earth would end within 10 years. The lucky ones will drown in the initial deluge.

  14. Frank W says:

    This post reminds me of the greatness that is Glen Baxter.

  15. Chris Lites says:

    Man, I remember this spill, it was great… wait, no, maybe I don’t remember it. I’m pretty sure I was told I had a good time.

  16. Joly MacFie says:

    As a youngster in the 60s I read a detailed eyewitness account of the Boston Molasses disaster in the Readers Digest. I am still haunted by it.

  17. Lane Yarbrough says:

    What? FOOD disasters? These are FOOD CONTAINMENT FAILURE disasters. If you want to stick to  that assumption, the list could go on to mention famine, that’s a “food” disaster. 

    One of the best food disasters I read was about a guy who convinced another guy he could can food. His name was Stephan Goldner, the purchaser was Sir John Franklin. 

    Short Version:

    Where I read it:

  18. ookluh says:

    You have a favorite food-based industrial accident?  Until today I didn’t know this could even be a category.  I sincerely want to see the rest of your favorites list…I think.

  19. z7q2 says:

    Back in the 70s in my home-town of Phoenixville, PA some kids opened up the valves on a few parked rail tankers full of corn syrup. There was no apocalyptic flood, rather, the result was a large patch of ground super-saturated with corn syrup which tended to spontaneously combust occasionally over the next few years until they got tired of that and dug it all up again.

  20. niktemadur says:

    Anybody here read Salman Rushdie’s “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”?  In chapter one a 10.0 earthquake hits the town of Tequila, Jalisco in Mexico, all the vats holding the distilling and/or aging potable basically blast into shreds, and a river of tequila runs through Tequila.
    Coincidentally, in spanish the word ‘ahogado’ means either (1) drowned or (2) passed-out drunk.
    So whoever did not die ‘ahogado’ (1), died ‘ahogado’ (2).

  21. M D says:

    io9 had a a write up about this sort of thing last year.  They included fried tarantula too!

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