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Jun 18, 2008 10:33 AM

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

They even interviewed Shirley Corriher.

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  1. 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

      "Puts the smuck in Smuckers"


      1. re: rworange

        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

          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

            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

              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

                "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

                  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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

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


              2. re: Candy

                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. 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. 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

                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

                  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. 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

                    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

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

                      1. re: JoanN

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

                    2. re: JoanN

                      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

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


                    3. 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

                        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

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