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If you’ve ever poured molasses, you understand where the phrase “slow as molasses” comes from. The dark brown liquid is a sweetener made from the boiled juice of sugar cane and sugar beets. From the Latin word mellaceum—“honey-like”—molasses is used in cooking, especially in the Caribbean and the southern United States where sugar crops grow. Molasses gives baked beans their thick texture, sweetens up barbecue sauces, and makes gingerbread cookies brown, soft, and chewy.