The Golden Eagle Syrup Manufacturing Company is a privately owned syrup company that was founded in 1928 by Victor and Lucy Patterson in Fayette, Fayette County. The company continues to manufacture syrup in the same location using the same recipe as the Pattersons.
Golden Eagle Syrup Victor Patterson began experimenting with the creation of a milder table syrup in the 1920s after he found that most syrups (from the Arabic word for “beverage”) from that period upset his stomach. Maple syrup was rarely available in the South owing to the lack of sugar maple trees (Acer saccharum). Therefore, southerners relied on honey, as well as molasses processed from sugar cane, sorghum syrup from sorghum cane, and, later, syrups from corn for culinary sweeteners. Antebellum Louisiana was an important producer of sugar cane, using enslaved labor to perform the difficult work. Renowned southern historian Walter Lynwood Fleming noted in 1904 that during the Civil War the prevalent liquid sweetener in north Alabama was sorghum syrup, whereas syrup from sugar cane was popular in south Alabama. Corn syrup became popular in the late nineteenth century, but its popularity increased greatly when corn production expanded in the 1920s as new breeds were introduced and mechanized agriculture expanded. These syrups have been popular sweeteners in baked goods and as accompaniments to hoecakes, pancakes, waffles, and other quick breads at southern breakfast tables for generations, and for “soppin'” with biscuits. This history is reflected in the proprietary recipe for Golden Eagle Syrup, which is a blend of cane sugar, corn syrup, molasses, and honey.
Patterson Family In 1928, Patterson chose the name “Golden Eagle Syrup” to signify the syrup’s golden color and to indicate that it “flew above” its competitors like an eagle. Victor and Lucy Patterson officially established the Golden Eagle Syrup Manufacturing Company that same year and began creating batches of syrup out of a small wood-frame building attached to their house.
By 1944, demand for the table syrup had increased so much that the Pattersons purchased a brick building in downtown Fayette that once served as a stable and grocery warehouse to be their new syrup factory, storage, and shipping warehouse. After Victor’s death in 1960, Lucy Patterson served as the official president of the company until her death in 1972. The Pattersons’ children and some in-laws took over the business until Victor Patterson Jr.’s ill health forced them to sell the company in 1986. The company then passed through a succession of owners until business partners Temple Bowling and John Blevins purchased the company in 2011. Wanting to keep the business as a small, family-owned company, the Bowling and Blevin families would make up much of the Golden Eagle Syrup Manufacturing Company workforce, and they continue to use the same recipe used when the Pattersons founded the company.
Golden Eagle Syrup Factory To make the syrup, the ingredients are heated and mixed in a large vat and then transferred to a cooling tank, from which the liquid is then transferred to individual jars. The syrup is still manufactured in the same building in downtown Fayette purchased by the Pattersons in 1944. Golden Eagle syrup is produced on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the company makes about 500 gallons of syrup each day. In 2013, local artist Missy Miles was tasked with touching up the original Golden Eagle logo on the side of the building and went on to paint one entire wall of the factory with a mural celebrating the history and heritage of the Golden Eagle Syrup Manufacturing Company. In June 2019, the company began production of Golden Eagle Caramel Corn popcorn, the company’s first new product since the introduction of the original syrup in 1928.
The plant is located at 205 1st Avenue southeast. Tours are by appointment. Nearby are the Fayette County Depot Museum, the Fayette Art Museum and Civic Center, the historic Court House, and Old City Cemetery.