Sweentened Condensed Milk of the Gospel

Finding old evaporated milk in the cupboard was the impetus for researching into the difference between this product and condensed milk. The answer to that was fairly easy: condensed milk contains sugar and evaporated milk doesn’t. Hence condensed milk is often called “sweetened condensed milk.” Because it is sweetened it requires less processing to inhibit bacterial growth, the key to extended shelf life.

But not satisfied with that, I looked into the history of these products. Condensed milk pre-dated evaporated milk by three decades. And that’s when I found out about Gail Borden.

Growing up, Borden milk was the expensive brand name milk. We used to say that only people on government food stamps could afford Borden. We always had the HEB store brand, which, as far as I know, was perfectly good milk. I had no idea that the founder of Borden Milk Products was such a famous Texas transplant.

According to the Handbook of Texas:

He and his first wife reputedly became the first Anglo-Americans to be baptized in the Gulf west of the Mississippi River. He became Sunday school missionary to the poor and to travelers. He was a trustee of the Texas Baptist Education Society, which founded Baylor University. And he was an officer in the local temperance society and deacon and clerk of the local Baptist church.

He also prepared the first topographical map of Texas, allegedly penned the newpaper headline, “Remember the Alamo!”, surveyed the original site of the city of Houston, and served as secretary of the company that owned most of Galveston Island. In 1851, he moved back north and invented condensed milk, which was supplied to Union soldiers in the War and made him an even richer man. Okay, he can be forgiven for supplying Yankees. After 1871, he spent winters in Texas.

Again, according the Handbook of Texas:

In 1873 he built a freedmen’s school and a white children’s school, organized a day school and a Sunday school for black children, aided in constructing five churches, maintained two missionaries, and partially supported numerous poorly paid teachers, ministers, and students.

All that and inventing the sweetened condensed milk for my favourite cherry pie.

He died in January 1874 at the age of 72. May his memory be eternal.

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One Response to Sweentened Condensed Milk of the Gospel

  1. Erin says:

    Interesting history, he sounds like a great man. But, someone has WAY too much time on his hands!

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