Just a Spoonful of Sugar
Sugar was first produced from sugarcane plants in northern India just after the 1st century CE. Originally, people chewed the sugarcane raw to extract its sweetness. Then, methods to extract the sugar cane juice led to the domestication of the plant. Over time, the process of crystallization was discovered, leading to the manufacture of cane sugar granules.
This simple product is one of the oldest and most widely used seasoning in the world, flavoring foods all around the globe. While you sip your sweetened tea or snack on a candy bar, here are some fun facts about sugar to enjoy:
- Sugar was a luxury for many years
Initially, sugar was a rare and expensive commodity in Europe, only affordable to the rich.
- Columbus brought canes to America
In the early 1600’s, both sugar and slavery came to the American colonies. Columbus brought canes with him on his second voyage. Slavery help reduce the cost of planting and harvest. The more affordable sugar became, the more indispensable it became in the American and European diet. By 1850, working class consumption of sugar exceeded that of the wealthier classes.
Sugar was mixed with a range of nuts, pastes, and gums to make a malleable, marzipan-like substance from which giant sugar sculptures (subtleties) were created and presented at royal events.
- Sugar can be used as a preservative
High sugar concentration causes bacteria to lose water through osmosis. Without water, bacteria cannot grow or divide. Hence sugar can be used as a preservative.
- Sugar Consumption
Two hundred years ago, the average American consumed about 2 pounds of sugar per year. Today, estimates of sugar intake are as high as 150 pounds per year per person!
- Rocket Candy
Sugar is a main component in “rocket candy”, which is a popular form of model rocket fuel.
- Dogs have a sweet tooth, cats not so much
Dogs enjoy sweet foods while cats and other felines don’t have the same sweetness receptors in their brains. Hard to imagine since most dogs eat so fast it seems unlikely that they would even taste the sweetness!
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