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Is thIs the end of the White Lily Flour as we know it?-NYT

Phaedrus Jun 18, 2008 10:33 AM


They even interviewed Shirley Corriher.

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  1. rworange RE: Phaedrus Jun 18, 2008 12:25 PM

    Have companies learned nothing from the 'new Coke' fiasco? Obviously not, judging fro this statement from The J. M. Smucker Company, which bought white Lily a year ago ...

    "Maribeth Badertscher, a spokeswoman for the company, said the new White Lily was the result of thorough product testing and promised that customers “won’t know the difference.”

    WHY mess with perfection ... oh yeah ... profit. Puts the smuck in Smuckers.

    13 Replies
    1. re: rworange
      lynnlato RE: rworange Jun 20, 2008 10:19 AM

      "Puts the smuck in Smuckers"


      1. re: rworange
        fussycouple RE: rworange Jun 23, 2008 02:07 PM

        One of the points of the new coke fiasco was just this same situation:

        Old Coke was made with cane sugar. When they replaced Old Coke with "coke classic" they converted to HFCS and used the New Coke debacle to cover it up, hoping no one would notice.

        Many many people noticed, but by the time enough realized why it was different, it was too late, and the profits of Coke went up a fraction as they ripped off their customer base for a cheaper poorer product.

        This happens again and again, but it has steamrollered since the 1980s. Weird that I am old enough now to remember when it really was all better than it is today.

        Btw, King Arthur flour and White Lily are *nothing* like one another, I can't believe people in this thread claim they can't tell the difference. King Arthur is great for yeast breads, but if I made biscuits with it, my southern ancestors would come up out of their graves and get me.

        1. re: fussycouple
          BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: fussycouple Jun 23, 2008 03:12 PM

          I was talking specifically about King Arthur white PASTRY flour, not the all-purpose or the bread flour. No one would ever use pastry flour in a yeast bread, andy more than someone would use bread flour in a biscuit. If you haven't used King Arthur's white pastry flour (9.2% protein, milled from 100% soft southern wheat) in biscuits, you don't really have a point of comparison.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
            fussycouple RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 23, 2008 06:06 PM

            The point is that White Lily is not a pastry flour, it is an all purpose flour, and functions differently in the things I make than King Arthur. I like King Arthur brand products, but neither their all purpose flour nor their pastry flour (both of which I use at times) is the same as White Lily, and the difference is significant.

            Of course I realize that I'm talking to someone who probably uses yella' corn meal to make the cake that yankees call "cornbread" (smiles).

            1. re: fussycouple
              BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: fussycouple Jun 23, 2008 08:03 PM

              Dear heart, I'm from Texas. We've been through this on this thread once already.

              Regardless, you are still missing the point. White Lily and King Arthur Pastry Flour are milled from the same type of wheat (soft summer wheat, not hard winter wheat) and have equivalent levels of protein. The only difference is that KA's flour is not chlorinated, and therefore is less blindingly white. That's merely cosmetic. The protein level and the type of wheat are all that matters. That's why I truly believe this ginned-up controversy is more about myth than reality.

              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                fussycouple RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 24, 2008 04:51 AM

                "Soft red winter wheat was once grown primarily in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee and, in the days before national food distribution networks, it was the only wheat widely available in the South."

                Also, the chlorination isn't just for the whiteness, it has an effect on the structure, so no, it's not merely cosmetic.

                When I make biscuits from pastry flour, they come out more cakey, which I don't want.

                When I make the same recipe using White Lily they have a better structure. The difference is particularly notable when you use lard instead of unsalted butter. (This is in an oven over 450 degrees).

                I find that in all my recipes from biscuits to pancakes to waffles to popovers to crepes, that little differences have big results, so if I'm overly passionate about While Lily, I beg your indulgence.

                1. re: fussycouple
                  johnb RE: fussycouple Jun 24, 2008 07:25 PM

                  Agree with fussy about the fact that there's more to chlorination than cosmetic. Actually quite a bit more. Shirley Corriher explains it in her book, in the context of cakes. Bottom line--if you want a nice fluffy cake, use bleached flour, not unbleached (and I assume it's true with biscuits as well??). I know from experience that it's true. Many years ago my ex tried repeatedly to make a particular cake recipe from her aunt and it never came out the same. She even stood beside her and learned everything, then went home to do it and just couldn't get the same smooth light crumb--hers was rough, heavy, and crumbly. We finally realized the one thing she was doing differently was using unbleached--switch to bleached and problem gone. Amazing difference.

          2. re: fussycouple
            Candy RE: fussycouple Jun 23, 2008 05:09 PM

            Luckily I can still get "real coke" , cane sugar and all in my local Kroger. Produced in Mexico and in the ethnic food section. They have a hard time keeping it in stock. Even at over $1.50/ bottle!

            1. re: Candy
              fussycouple RE: Candy Jun 23, 2008 06:08 PM

              Actually, Kosher Coca Cola is identical to "Old Coke", if you can find it (try Manhattan around Passover). I found it interesting that Old Coke and Mexican Coke don't taste the same, though I will agree that I like both.

              1. re: fussycouple
                Davwud RE: fussycouple Jun 23, 2008 06:38 PM

                I'm not sure if it's the same as "Old Coke" but we don't use HFCS up here in Canada.


                1. re: Davwud
                  Caitlin McGrath RE: Davwud Jun 24, 2008 03:24 PM

                  Mexican Coke, Canadian Coke, KOP Coke, they all taste different. Coca Cola uses different formulas for each national market throughout the world, according to (even slightly) differing tastes. They even use different formulas in different regions of the US, as I understand it.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                    Davwud RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 24, 2008 06:44 PM

                    Be that as it may, it has no HFCS in it so I must consider it healthy!!


              2. re: Candy
                davis_sq_pro RE: Candy Nov 28, 2012 07:59 AM

                Careful.... There is some evidence that the Mexican coke might actually contain HFCS. Labels, as it turns out, aren't always truthful or very well checked :-(


                Best bet, if you like soda, is to stick with smaller independent 100% cane sugar brands.

          3. BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: Phaedrus Jun 18, 2008 12:30 PM

            Sounds like a lot of people more invested in the mythology than the item itself.

            I've used King Arthur's white pastry flour interchangeably with White Lily (both are easily enough procured up here in Boston) for years, and I have never noticed a difference in my biscuits.

            1. f
              fluffernutter RE: Phaedrus Jun 18, 2008 01:19 PM

              I agree that sometimes people are more invested in the product's mythology than the item itself, but I write about food in the South, and I can confirm that every time a local product has sold to an outside company, they have changed it, and nearly always for the worse. And that's for any number of small reasons, but generally speaking, it ceases to be an icon and becomes just one more product line to be optimized. When Pillsbury bought Martha White, they reformulated the all-purpose to be more like Gold Medal, if you can imagine.

              And things could get even worse -- Kraft at Christmastime discontined garlic cheese roll, an iconic product used in one of the most important dishes made for Southern social gatherings: cheese grits. I called the company and they said that sales didn't justify continued production. I reported it on my blog (tupperware avalanche) along with a substitute, and it's the most-hit item on my blog. So there's every danger that White Lily will just be one more "underperforming product line."

              2 Replies
              1. re: fluffernutter
                Phaedrus RE: fluffernutter Jun 18, 2008 01:27 PM

                This is why we need to line up all the MBA's and shoot them when the revolution comes. Yes, even before we shoot all the lawyers.

                1. re: fluffernutter
                  0peramanda RE: fluffernutter Jun 18, 2008 06:35 PM

                  Twenty-nine years living in the South, and I have never heard of this iconic cheese roll. Cheese grits, yes. Garlic cheese roll, no.

                2. JoanN RE: Phaedrus Jun 18, 2008 01:59 PM

                  I searched all over Manhattan last February to try to find some for exactly the recipe that accompanied the article. Finally found it, and when I read the article this morning I ran right back to the same store to see if I could get lucky. Alas, no. But I still have about a pound and a half left. Good thing, too, because I'd planned to make the biscuits again as the basis for a strawberry shortcake for an upcoming dinner party. I'll savor them even more now.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: JoanN
                    ChefJune RE: JoanN Jun 18, 2008 11:02 PM

                    Joan, you can still mail order some of the REAL White Lily. but you have to specify that it come from Knoxville.

                    1. re: ChefJune
                      JoanN RE: ChefJune Jun 19, 2008 04:32 AM

                      Mail order from where? from whom? The only place I'm finding it is on the Smucker's Web site.

                      1. re: JoanN
                        ChefJune RE: JoanN Jun 19, 2008 06:53 AM

                        Try white lily dot com. you'll find an 800 number that goes to Knoxville.

                    2. re: JoanN
                      MMRuth RE: JoanN Jun 23, 2008 05:31 AM

                      I'm on my way back from Amherst, VA and bought 10 lbs of the Knoxville made White Lily Flour, even though I've never made a biscuit. They had lots of it on the shelf. So I guess I now need to learn how to make biscuits, but that's a topic for the Home Cooking board!

                      Not sure if it mentioned this in the article, but the bag says that it's made in Knoxville, and that the company is a subsidiary of a company other than Smuckers.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        The Chowhound Team RE: MMRuth Jun 23, 2008 03:36 PM

                        A discussion of the NYT and other biscuit recipes using this flour has been split to:


                    3. s
                      shallots RE: Phaedrus Jun 18, 2008 02:58 PM

                      Any venture capitalists out there want to copyrie the phrase "Black Lily", but the building and hire the workers and keep the tradition going?

                      When I go into town tomorrow, I'll check if the 'for sale' signs are up yet.

                      Why in the heck can't they (the ubiquitous they) leave well enough alone?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: shallots
                        Candy RE: shallots Jun 18, 2008 06:01 PM

                        I am outraged! I cannot get to my local groceries until Friday and hope among the 3 stores that carry it I can score a few bags of the real thing and vacuum seal it and hoard my treasure until they come to their senses. Hit them in the pocket book is the only way to go on carp like this!

                        Of course there are the no nothings who will buy it. Hopefully the devoted will boycott and it will hurt.

                        1. re: shallots
                          dolores RE: shallots Jun 24, 2008 06:58 AM

                          >>Why in the heck can't they (the ubiquitous they) leave well enough alone?


                        2. ChefJune RE: Phaedrus Jun 18, 2008 11:01 PM

                          <They even interviewed Shirley Corriher.>

                          Huh??? For many years, Shirley Corriher was the face of White Lily Flour. and she is an esteemed food scientist.

                          I haven't tried the "new" White Lily, but if she says there is a difference, I'm sure there is.

                          <Sounds like a lot of people more invested in the mythology than the item itself.

                          I've used King Arthur's white pastry flour interchangeably with White Lily (both are easily enough procured up here in Boston) for years, and I have never noticed a difference in my biscuits.>

                          that's funny. I noticed a difference between them.

                          1. r
                            rweater RE: Phaedrus Jun 19, 2008 07:34 AM

                            I think this is probably something where those of us who didn't grow up eating White Lily biscuits probably wouldn't get the difference. I'm not from the South (although I did live there for several years), so for me biscuits just don't hold the same mystique. When we had biscuits growing up, they were something my mother whipped up with some Bisquick or they came from Pillsbury. They tasted fine to me, but what did I know? Despite my several years in the South, I'm not sure I would be able to really tell the difference unless someone sat me down and pointed it out to me.

                            I think there are many regional foods that people who were not raised on them will just never understand. I grew up in the Detroit area with access to some of the best Middle Eastern food in the world. When I eat at what passes for a Middle Eastern restaurant in many other places, the effect is usually not the same. While other people (many of whom are otherwise very food knowledgeable) think the lumpy hummus and pita bread that came out of a package is scrumptious, it just doesn't do it for me.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rweater
                              Phaedrus RE: rweater Jun 19, 2008 07:45 AM

                              I spent nine years living in Atlanta, and believe me there are brick like biscuits and then there are the fluffy light as a cloud kind. I could not discern the flavor difference, but I can definitely discern the textural difference.

                              Since moving to the north, actually midwest, I look at BBQ, fried chicken, sausage gravy, and biscuits with a whole new mind's eye.

                            2. c
                              condiment RE: Phaedrus Jun 20, 2008 10:09 AM

                              I may be biased toward Kentucky products, but I've always liked the flours from Weisenberger Mills in Midway, Kentucky better than White Lily.

                              It's come from the same family-owned, water-operated mill since 1865, the quality is beyond consistent - I usually get the unbleached, but the bleached White Lily equivalent is just blindingly white - and the self-rising flour is good too. Very cheap - I ordered from them even during the short few months that White Lily was available in a store near my house. And the grits are awesome too. One of my favorite mail-order sources.


                              8 Replies
                              1. re: condiment
                                Candy RE: condiment Jun 20, 2008 12:22 PM

                                My dayis made. My local Kroger still has Tenn. produced White Lily in the shelves. I managed to get 5-5lnb. bags. I vill vacuum seal them and hope they last until WL. comes to their senses.

                                1. re: Candy
                                  Leepa RE: Candy Jun 22, 2008 03:29 PM

                                  How were you able to tell they were TN bags?

                                  Apparently they've phased out the mixes (not the cornmeal mix, though), too. Bummer. Some of them were good in a pinch.

                                  1. re: Leepa
                                    0peramanda RE: Leepa Jun 22, 2008 05:50 PM

                                    I don't know about Candy, but the bag I bought the other day (in TN) said it was made in Knoxville. Also, the article linked above says the Knoxville mill is open until the end of the month.

                                    1. re: Leepa
                                      Candy RE: Leepa Jun 23, 2008 06:24 AM

                                      They are marked made in Knoxville.

                                  2. re: condiment
                                    LabRat RE: condiment Jun 20, 2008 12:32 PM

                                    I'm gonna be in Lexington at the end of next week, might have to run over to Midway to pick up some of their flour!

                                    1. re: LabRat
                                      condiment RE: LabRat Jun 20, 2008 06:13 PM

                                      You should be able to find Weisenberger's at pretty much any decent grocery in Lexington.

                                      1. re: condiment
                                        LabRat RE: condiment Jul 7, 2008 06:26 AM

                                        Well, I tried Kroger and Meijer's but all I could find was a small bag of Weisenberger's cornmeal at Kroger's so we decided to drive over to the mill. Picked up a couple of bags of their high gluten flour and a bag of all purpose while my parents stocked up on some cornbread, spoon bread and muffin mixes. The cornbread mix is a southern style (not sweet) and was actually very good. I'll probably use the high gluten flour tonight to make some pizza dough so I can bake some pies in my 2Stone oven later this week. According to the people at the mill the best grocery store in Lexington to find the majority of their products is the Good Foods Co-op. Attached is a photo of the mill and (for no good reason) a shot of a foal in a field nearby.

                                    2. re: condiment
                                      ChefJune RE: condiment Jun 20, 2008 01:46 PM

                                      Condiment Thanks so much for that link. I'll be ordering from there, no doubt!

                                    3. Davwud RE: Phaedrus Jun 23, 2008 05:18 AM

                                      They'll never learn.

                                      I can foresee a boycott.


                                      1. pikawicca RE: Phaedrus Jun 23, 2008 06:19 PM

                                        I usually agree with Candy on most subjects, but I really don't like the doughy biscuits produced by use of White Lily. I like a really thin and crisp biscuit, such as that favored in Virginia: a biscuit that's so thin you can barely split it and butter it. Put on a few super-thin slices of Virginia ham, and you've got perfection.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: pikawicca
                                          condiment RE: pikawicca Jun 23, 2008 10:40 PM

                                          Isn't a bleached soft-wheat flour like White Lily exactly what you want for that kind of biscuit?

                                          1. re: condiment
                                            pikawicca RE: condiment Jun 24, 2008 05:04 AM

                                            No. Make any biscuit recipe twice, one with AP flour, one with White Lily. You'll see a big difference. It's a matter of taste which you prefer.

                                            1. re: pikawicca
                                              Candy RE: pikawicca Jun 24, 2008 09:24 AM

                                              It is also better for making Asian dumpling wrappers. The softer wheat does a much better job. I really like it when making Bao. After steaming they fluff beautifully and are so tender they almost melt in your mouth.

                                          2. re: pikawicca
                                            Clarkafella RE: pikawicca Jun 24, 2008 10:23 AM

                                            " I like a really thin and crisp biscuit, such as that favored in Virginia: a biscuit that's so thin you can barely split it and butter it. Put on a few super-thin slices of Virginia ham, and you've got perfection."

                                            Wow! I like regular biscuits made with White Lily most of the time, but when we go home to Mom's for the holidays we *always* have a Virginia ham and really thin crispy biscuits- my late Father (from Louisa, VA) was a stickler for the ham tradition, but I always thought that the thin biscuits were because my Mom (who *hates* cooking) had lost her biscuit recipe many years ago, and just started making the hard kind to try and discourage us from getting her to make them!

                                            But much to mom's disdain, all of us kids grew up eating the hard kind and couldn't enjoy the ham any other way.

                                          3. s
                                            sliim RE: Phaedrus Jun 25, 2008 05:31 PM

                                            Does anyone know where you can order original White Lily?

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: sliim
                                              MMRuth RE: sliim Jun 26, 2008 03:58 AM

                                              See this post, above:


                                              1. re: sliim
                                                johnb RE: sliim Jun 26, 2008 05:43 AM

                                                I think there are still ample supplies in stores around the South. I just bought some at my Bi Lo in Western NC. It still shows the name of the previous owner of White Lily, and has a "best used before" date of March 2009--I assume flour is stamped with a date one year from packing, but can anyone confirm that?

                                                1. re: johnb
                                                  MMRuth RE: johnb Jun 26, 2008 07:06 AM

                                                  Mine has a 12/2008 date, and I'm wondering if I can just freeze some of it (self rising).

                                                  Edit: Found this on their website:

                                                  "To ensure that you are always buying the freshest possible product, we stamp all our bags with a code date on the side of the bag. White Lily products are considered fresh until the date on the bag. For fresher flour and cornmeal, refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container. Allow flour and cornmeal to come to room temperature before use."


                                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                                    Candy RE: MMRuth Jun 26, 2008 05:44 PM

                                                    I'd just plan on adding more baking powder post date. If using post date and buttermilk I'd increase the baking soda and baking powder.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                                      pikawicca RE: MMRuth Jun 26, 2008 06:02 PM

                                                      You can certainly freeze it and preserve the goodness. All flours do well in the freezer.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                        MikeG RE: MMRuth Jun 27, 2008 08:46 AM

                                                        Don't forget to leave it wrapped/sealed until it comes to room temp or it may absorb excessive moisture from room humidity. Consider storing it in smaller-than-full-bag quantities - it'll warm up faster and you won't have to "thaw"/refreeze what you don't use, if only to reduce moisture absorption.

                                                  2. s
                                                    shallots RE: Phaedrus Jul 1, 2008 07:41 AM

                                                    Several Knoxville TV stations had brief mention last night of the final closing of the White Lily plant. (I couldn't find any links this a.m.) Forty were laid off several months ago and the last thirty had their last day yesterday.
                                                    "Smuckers....won't identify they milling operation now producing White Lily, but spokesman .....says it has been a secondary mill of the flour for generations." from

                                                    I doubt that generations ago, White Lily needed a secondary mill. I must admit I distrust spokesmen, including the Bush Beans dawg.

                                                    "Smucker says the flour is still the same."
                                                    Probably on a sugar high. Probably count on the sugar taste overwhelming the biscuit taste, and the cake texture and the howls of protest.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Docsknotinn
                                                      Phaedrus RE: Docsknotinn Jul 1, 2008 11:00 AM

                                                      Will the Concord Grape jelly will be known as MD 20/20 jelly? Oy vey!!

                                                      1. re: shallots
                                                        Candy RE: shallots Jul 2, 2008 06:34 AM

                                                        Sugar in biscuits? Hmmm. Never encountered that before. It kind of makes my teeth hurt to think about it.

                                                        1. re: Candy
                                                          MMRuth RE: Candy Jul 2, 2008 07:02 AM

                                                          The recipe that I used from the NYT - Corrierh? - called for 4T of sugar - I'd omit most of it next time.

                                                        2. re: shallots
                                                          Beckyleach RE: shallots Jan 21, 2010 08:19 AM

                                                          I just stumbled on this thread. My mother would be rolling over in her grave. I'd better not let her know! ;-)

                                                          (she mail-ordered White Lily by the case when she moved to Iowa...)

                                                        3. p
                                                          Potomac Bob RE: Phaedrus Jul 9, 2008 06:10 PM

                                                          At one time, there were three great flours from Tennessee, all made from soft winter wheat. They were White Lily (from Knoxville), Martha White (from Nashville, sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry), and Red Band (from Johnson City). Now - all three are owned by Smuckers. If you want soft things, like cakes, pie crusts or biscuits, you need a flour made from soft winter wheat. If you want hard rolls or yeast-raised breads, you need a flour made from hard wheat. Such a flour is Pillsbury. It, too, is owned by Smuckers. Guess which flour Smuckers promotes - Pillsbury.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Potomac Bob
                                                            ironuser RE: Potomac Bob Jan 20, 2010 03:48 PM

                                                            Have you tried Southern biscuit flour.? This Imo is the best you can get and It's still milled in the south http://www.midstatemills.com/consumer...

                                                            1. re: ironuser
                                                              Leepa RE: ironuser Jan 20, 2010 04:08 PM

                                                              Thanks for the recommendation, ironuser. My market carries Southern Biscuit, but I've never tried it. I will now!

                                                              1. re: Leepa
                                                                ironuser RE: Leepa Jan 21, 2010 10:50 AM

                                                                That's great Leepa, give it a try and tell us what you think

                                                          2. Antilope RE: Phaedrus Nov 27, 2012 11:22 AM

                                                            To make a lighter flour (similar to White Lily), for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch. (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Antilope
                                                              iL Divo RE: Antilope Nov 27, 2012 02:18 PM

                                                              ur du bom antilope :)

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