I too have used this recipe since the early 80s and it is failproof. I mistakenly left the brown sugar out one time and they turned out fine. I never used the brown sugar again. I tend to use canola rather than shortening and that too lends itself to a nice muffin.
Another nice variation is to omit the molasses, and make the bran mixture a half and half concoction of wheat bran and wheat germ. Also very good. The variations are endless.
I've used this recipe since the 70's. It is absolutely delicious: sweet enough, tasty, moist. I'm glad to see it included on Food.com.
I really loved these muffins! I liked the substantial texture/nice top and the molasses flavor. I sprinkled some cinnamon in the batter and used a combo of dates/dried cranberries. I really like your Sour Cream Bran Muffins, too. Thanks Diana- Roxygirl