The clip from Otto Preminger's 1965 In Harm's Way (a film overflowing with familiar names), begins with Henry Fonda's character "Admiral Nimitz (referred to as 'CINCPAC II')" saying the line:

Well we gave him the molasses, now let's feed him the sulfa.

This is completely opaque to me. Molasses while delicious when added to some foods is not something one normally eats outright, neither for satisfaction nor for medicinal purposes that I'm aware of. Sulfa likely refers to a group of early antibiotics that was used extensively during World War II.

But I don't see the connection between molasses and sulfa, within the context of the film or without.

I find this quote is listed in several places including IMDB, moviequotes and moviemistakes.com 1, 2 so apparently this line is somewhat notable, but so far no explanation.

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    There are “home remedy” uses of molasses. One way to take molasses for health is to dissolve a tablespoon or similar amount in warm water. Sulfas have also been used orally. So it could be something like “we tried the home remedy to fix something and it hasn’t worked. Now let’s try the modern science.” Just a guess - hence the comment. Oct 16 at 11:01
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    Aren't you mistaking sulfur for sulfa?
    – Rahul
    Oct 16 at 13:37
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    @Rahul No I don't think so. "Sulfa" and "sulfur" sound very different, and in American English that "r" at the end will be very clear, and that's American actor Henry Fonda who has excellent diction in general, and who is not speaking very quickly or under any duress here. I'm quite sure it's "sulfa". Not that it's much support or reliable, but so do the video's closed captions: i.stack.imgur.com/NgJUr.jpg though it changed "feed'em" or "feed him" to "feeding". Also, nobody feeds sulfur to somebody, never heard of it.
    – uhoh
    Oct 16 at 13:47
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    Sulfur is a rock pulled out of the ground, it's not something you can eat, whereas sulfa drugs (in the 1960's as opposed to WW II where it was often applied directly to wounds as a powder) were orally administered medicines.
    – uhoh
    Oct 16 at 13:48
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    @uhoh I've never heard Admiral Nimitz speak, but he was from Texas. Henry Fonda would be one to do his research and use the proper inflections for the role. Listen to how he says "accurate."
    – Tom
    Oct 19 at 1:09

This does seem to be a reference to the home remedy of Molasses and Sulfur

Sulphur and blackstrap molasses is a centuries-old homemade remedy. The mixture of one teaspoon of sulphur and two teaspoons of molasses was believed to prevent health problems and to serve as a universal remedy. It is best known as the "spring tonic," which was taken to cleanse the blood after the long period of inactivity during the long, cold winter months.

In this context, the sweet (molasses) is the fact that Cpt. Torrey has just been promoted to Admiral and the "sour" (sulfur) is the rough job he's being handed.

There is nothing magical about the combination of blackstrap molasses and sulphur.... However, eating sulphur by itself is not a pleasant experience. It is strong, bitter, sour and metallic tasting. This may be why it was initially combined with molasses.

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