Chronography of Sugar

Page last modified 6/9/2022


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See also Slavery

See also Food � Tea & Coffee

See also Farming for agricultural technology and farming


Growth of annual per-capita sugar consumption, kgs











































(1) See 1/8/1834,for sugar price drop after 1834.

(2) Much of this increase 1700-80 was driven by increased tea and coffee consumption.

(3) Some of this sugar went into illegal �moonshne� whusky production.


1980, The flavour �salted caramel� was invented by a French chocolatier, Henri la Roux. This flavour is highly addictive because it combines the taste of sugar, fat and salt. Since 2000 the food industry has added it to a wide range of foodstuffs, not just chocolate and ice cream but incrisps, coffee, tea, vodka and yoghurt.

9/3/1977, Saccharine was banned in the USA because it was believed to be carcinogenic.

26/9/1953. Sugar rationing ended in Britain, after nearly 14 years.

1951, The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement offered tariff protection to the expensive Caribbean sugar producers (where uneven terrain and unpredictable weather made production more expensive than in the large scale plantations of Brazil). Outdated production methods such as hand-harvesting could persist in the Caribbean. In 2005 the EU began dismantling this guaranteed price.

14/5/1942, Sugar rationing began in the USA.

1930, The sugar content of UK-grown sugar beet had been raised to almost 20%, from 7% in the 1880s.

1/9/1903, The UK banned sugar imports from Denmark, Argentina, and Russia as part of a policy for preference for Empire imports. The TUC opposed this policy.

1900, Sugar consumption in the USA per capita was now 65.2lbs a year, Global sugar beet production now stood at 5.6 million tons, a figure that would more than quadruple by 1964.

5/12/1899, Sir Henry Tate, of Tate and Lyle fame, founder of the Tate gallery, died aged 80.

27/2/1879. Chemists Constantin Fahlberg and Professor Ira Pemson in Baltimore reported the discovery of saccharin, at John Hopkins University, Baltimore.

1876, British coinfectionery company Slater and Bullock launched lettered rock. They soon began using the names of holiday towns, starting with Blackpool.

1873, The emancipation of slaves in Louisiana had resulted in a drop insugar production to less than one third of its 1853 level. In many areas, rice had been substituted as a crop for sugar cane, as it was less labour intensive,

1872, Henry Tate (1819-1899) became aware of a device for producing neat cubes of sugar; previously sugar had been sold in jagged pieces chipped fromalarge block. He patented the concept of sugatr cubes, his business grew massively, and he transferred the emnterp[rise from Liverpool to London in 1880. Meanwhile Abraham Lyle (1820-91), Tate�s main rival, had established a sugar refinery on the Clyde, near Glasgow, in 1865. He also transferered his business to London, in 1883. In 1885 Lyle launched a very successful product, Golden Syrup. In 1921 the Tate and Lyle busi nesses merged to form Tate and Lyle, to better match foreign competition.

1860, Sugar consumption in Britain was now 34 lbs a year; in Belgium, 21 lbs (mostly in sweetened coffee).

1850, Less than 15% of the global sugar supply now came from sugar beet.

1842, France had nearly 60 sugar beet processing factories, producing around 1 kg of sugar per head per year.


Decline of Caribbean sugar from slave plantations

1839, Annual sugar production in Jamaica was down to 20-25,000 tons, from 70,000 tons in 1821, due to the end of slavery. See 1/8/1834.

1/8/1834, Slavery was abolished in all British colonies. �20 million was paid as compensation to former slave owners.This was a victory for the Anti-Slavery League, formed in 1823, and their Parliamentary leader, Thomas Fowell Buxton. It also completed the work of William Wilberforce; his anti-slavery Bill, to abolish the slave trade, incepted in 1789, was passed in 1807. This move gave impetus to the anti-slavery campaign in the USA.

In South Africa, 35,000 slaves were freed as slavery ended throughout the British Empire. In Barbados the slaves continued to work for their former masters but now as hired servants.

In Jamaica, slave owners were compensated at �19 per slave. However the market rate for a slave then was �35 (�2,000 at 2000 prices). Most of this money in fact went to the plantation creditors, as the plantations were in debt, heavily mortgaged, and in places declining in fertility through overwork. Additionally the UK Government now moved from a Protectionist to a Free Trade stance,eliminiating heavy duties against non-UK-colonial sugar,and sugar prices fell by half.


11/3/1819, Sir Henry Tate, the British sugar magnate and philanthropist whose money and pictures formed the foundation of the Tate Gallery in 1897, was born in Chorley.


Foundation of the sugar beet industry

1810, Sugar beet factories were established at Passy, France, by Benjamin Delessert, to overcome a sugar shortage caused by Britain blocking imports.

1802, Chemist Archard built the first factory for processing sugar beet, in Silesia (then Germany, now Poland).

7/8/1782, Andreas Marggraf, who discovered sugar in beetroot, died (born 3/3/1709).

1747, Andreas Marggraf (born in Berlin, 3/3/1709) discovered sugar in beets, laying the foundations for Europe�ssugar beet industry.

1725, Jams made from sugar became popular.

3/3/1709, Andreas Marggraf, who discovered sugar in beetroot, was born (died 7/8/1782).


1700, Annual sugar imports into England stood at 10,000 tons,having risen from 88 tons in 1665, as tea consumption (fueleed by cheap sugar) became very popular. Sugar consumption in Britain per capita was now 4 lbs a year.

11/11/1675, Death of Thomas Willis, physician to King Charles II and to the Duke of York. He was the first to notice an increase in what we now know as diabetes amongst his more affluent clients � he called it �the pissing evil�. He also noted the very sweet nature of this urine. The wealthy in England were raising their consumption of sugar, now being imported from the Caribbean, both in desserts and in tea. In fact the issue of sweet urine and diabetes was also known to the ancient Greeks, Indians and Chinese.

1636, Sugar cane plantations started in Barbados.

1623, Brazil had 350 sugar plantations, up from 5 in 1550.

1600, It was discovered that fruit could be preserved with sugar.

1573, The first German sugar cane refinery was built at Augsburg.

1532, Sugar cane first grown in Brazil.

1506, The Spanish began sugar cane cultivation in the West Indies.

7/6/1494, The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI had set a line at 100 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands from north to south Pole; Spain had the rights to colonise west of this line, Portugal to the east. The 1494 Treaty moved this line a further 270 leagues to the west. This resulted in Portugal having possession of both Brazil and Africa; in turn this greatly facilitated the expansion of the slave trade, providing cheap labour for the sugar plantations.

1148, Sugar was brought to Europe by the Crusaders. It soon became more valuable than honey.

325 BCE, First reference by the Greeks to sugar cane. Nearchus noted �Indian reeds� that produced honey where there are no bees. The word �sugar� derives from the Arabic �sukhar�, which itself derives from the Sanskrit �sarkara�, meaning gravel or pebble. The word occurs in Indian literature from ca. 300 BCE, and sugar was now being grown in areas of the Middle East where there was enough water. Sugar was then only affordable by the wealthy.


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