Monday, January 4, 2021

Bears survive one more week, but starch goes on forever


     The Bears lost to the Packers on Sunday but made it into the playoffs anyway, so their suffering continues.
     The season started so well, if I recall, base on snippets overheard Monday mornings on WBBM radio news. Not that I watched a single second of a single game. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in the team.
     I’ve been reading about how, 100 years ago this October. the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company of Decatur, producers of starch, sent their factory team, the Staleys, north, along with its young coach, George Halas, to become the Chicago Bears.
     Learning this led to the rare football-related question that intrigues me: Does Staley still makes starch?
     Yes, they do, but not under that name. The company was purchased for $1.4 billion in 1988 by British sugar refiner Tate & Lyle. I contacted them at the end of August. We hear so much about the football part of the tale, but drop the ball — look, a sports metaphor! — when it comes to the starch aspect.
     Tate & Lyle not only has a 400-acre factory making starch in Decatur called Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas LLC but a mixing plant in Sycamore that employs 100 workers; various silos; a purchasing facility, Tate & Lyle Grain; and a research lab, the Commercial and Food Innovation Centre, in Hoffman Estates, which is the place they decided our two-hour Zoom dog-and-pony show should showcase.

To continue reading, click here. 


  1. The political equivilent of the binding power or starch? A free press?

    Fascinating article.

    1. I don't have an answer to what the "political equivalent of the binding power of starch" might be, but I think we have a free press and it's more likely to be a divisive force rather than a binding one, given that I believe that the Sun-Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are exemplars of a free press, while the Trumpists would cite Fox News, the New York Post, and the Washington Examiner as such. And we're both right. Adherence to the rule of law might be a better analogy, but still falls short in my estimation, perhaps because starch does so many things in such a mysterious way (to us non chemists) that it's more awkward than usual to compare its effects to anything in the socio political sphere.

      Agree, however, that this is a truly fascinating always.


    2. What's the difference between Fox TV and Fox News? The ability to challenge the broadcast license of Fox TV keeps them honest. Fox News is an opinion outlet and the only jeopardy they face is loss of viewers. The "Mainstream" networks are also more bound to the truth which is why the right wing propaganda machine has to tell The Big Lie about them.

  2. Is it the same starch that gets us hot under the collar? Assume it's a similar starch product used in dry cleaning for that crisp professional look. Or not.
    Love how you proudly proclaim that you did not watch a single second of a single game yet I remember your one time fascination with watching every Bulls game. Explain please.

    1. And you see a conflict there ... how? You do realize that football and basketball are different sports, yes? My younger son follows the Bulls, and says things like, as he did the other day, "Dad, do you want to watch the Bulls game?" I suppress my immediate reaction ("Hell NO!") and always say, "Sure thing!" If he wanted to watch football, I'd watch that too, but he doesn't. Does that help you at all?

  3. You smell that son? I love that smell, of corn starch being processed. One morning we had an atmospheric inversion, with a barely discernable breeze from the southwest. The air was full of that smell, you know a dusty musky odor, it smells like...capitalism.
    Corn starch, a great thickener for making pies. Recipes require less corn starch than flour, and without the gluteny after taste.

  4. Where to go with this one? I could note that I watched more Bears action than you did, but that's kinda misleading, since "a single second of a single game" is a pretty tough standard to match. I'll have spent more time reading this column and commenting on it than I spent watching the Bears this year, though.

    I could observe that I'm among the "liberals (who) can be as science averse and fearful as anybody else," in that I prefer non-GMO products, but that would just be embarrassing.

    So, I'll choose to zero in on my fascination with the "unappealing behaviors" of miscreant yogurt. Being among the 84% who read labels, I see that my organic brand has pectin in it. Which (checks internet) is a type of starch. Ta-da!

    Of course, unappealing behaviors certainly feature prominently as components of the ongoing train-wreck orchestrated by our Maximum Leader and his many minions, too, relating to the end of the piece.

  5. My father owned a business where one of his products were 100lbs of corn starch. Only businesses that we sold/delivered that to were Chinese Restaurants. Nobody else I knew ever purchased that product. So Chinese Restaurants apparently use that in their food.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.