Cube Sugar History
Cube Sugar History

History of Cube Sugar


It is thought that cane sugar was first used by man in Polynesia from where it spread to India. In 510 BC the Emperor Darius of what was then Persia invaded India where he found "the reed which gives honey without bees". The secret of cane sugar, as with many other of man's discoveries, was kept a closely guarded secret whilst the finished product was exported for a rich profit.


It was the major expansion of the Arab peoples in the seventh century AD that led to a breaking of the secret. When they invaded Persia in 642 AD they found sugar cane being grown and learnt how sugar was made. As their expansion continued they established sugar production in other lands that they conquered including North Africa and Spain.


Sugar was only discovered by western Europeans as a result of the Crusades in the 11th Century AD. Crusaders returning home talked of this "new spice" and how pleasant it was. The first sugar was recorded in England in 1099. The subsequent centuries saw a major expansion of western European trade with the East, including the importation of sugar. It is recorded, for instance, that sugar was available in London at "two shillings a pound" in 1319 AD. This equates to about US$100 per kilo at today's prices so it was very much a luxury.


In the 15th century AD, European sugar was refined in Venice, confirmation that even then when quantities were small, it was difficult to transport sugar as a food grade product. In the same century, Columbus sailed to the Americas, the "New World". It is recorded that in 1493 he took sugar cane plants to grow in the Caribbean. The climate there was so advantageous for the growth of the cane that an industry was quickly established.


By 1750 there were 120 sugar refineries operating in Britain. Their combined output was only 30,000 tons per annum. At this stage sugar was still a luxury and vast profits were made to the extent that sugar was called "white gold". Governments recognised the vast profits to be made from sugar and taxed it highly. In Britain for instance, sugar tax in 1781 totalled £326,000, a figure that had grown by 1815 to £3,000,000. This situation was to stay until 1874 when the British government, under Prime Minister Gladstone, abolished the tax and brought sugar prices within the means of the ordinary citizen.

Sugar beet was first identified as a source of sugar in 1747. No doubt the vested interests in the cane sugar plantations made sure that it stayed as no more than a curiosity, a situation that prevailed until the Napoleonic wars at the start of the 19th century when Britain blockaded sugar imports to continental Europe. By 1880 sugar beet had replaced sugar cane as the main source of sugar on continental Europe. Those same vested interests probably delayed the introduction of beet sugar to England until the First World War when Britain's sugar imports were threatened.


Today's modern sugar industry is still beset with government interference at many levels and throughout the world. The overall pattern can be seen by investigating the mid 1990s' position in the interactive map on the Introduction page. Annual consumption is now running at about 120 million tons and is expanding at a rate of about 2 million tons per annum. The European Union, Brazil and India are the top three producers and together account for some 40% of the annual production. However most sugar is consumed within the country of production and only approximately 25% is traded internationally.


One of the most important examples of governmental actions is within the European Union where sugar prices are so heavily subsidised that over 5 million tons of white beet sugar have to be exported annually and yet a million tons of raw cane sugar are imported from former colonies. This latter activity is a form of overseas aid which is also practised by the USA. The EU's over-production and subsequent dumping has now been subjected to GATT requirements which should see a substantial cut-back in production over the next few years.


History of cube sugar

In 1829, the brothers Tomas and Frantisek Grebners in Kostelni Vydri near Dacice  founded the first sugar factory of the modern era in the western part 

of the monarchy of Habsbourg.  In spring 1829 they planted sugar beet on a field of a superficie of about 3ha and started manufacturing the yields in a 

sugar factory in autumn 1828 usind the knowledge obtained in France


The sugar factory in Kostelni Vydri was set up in the building of a farm brewery.  In the groundfloor there were a stable for oxes driving a horse gear, then 

a room for horse-gear and a large hall with all simple machines of the sugar factory: slicer actionned by the horse gear, whitening machine or masticating 

mill, screw and wedge presses, in the soil buried tanks for collecting pressed juice, 3 boilers for defecation with direct heating, 2 small and 2 big 

evaporating pans with direct heating.  The machines were made mostly from wood, some parts only were in iron.


The manufacturing was following: sugar beet was grated in small pieces, these one were pressed in order to obtain a juice.  Juice was warmed up and clarified in boilers, the warm juice was drained to evaporation tanks into which formed syrup which was purified.  Then three weeks crystallization follwed,  after formation of massecuite and drying.  By the way was obtained crude sugar which had to be refined.  Wastage was used as food for sheep and syrup  for using in production of spirits.  About 1000kg of sugar-beet were worked up everyday, this quantity gave 30 kg of sugar and 30 kg of syrup.  During  the first sugar-beet season were manufactured 11200 kg of crude sugar, sugar was took awayonly by shop keepers in Dacice.  The sugar factory ended sugar making already in 1832, or the soil near Dacice was not proper for growing sugar beets (altitude about 500m) and the sugar factory missed a quality  raw material.  Anyhow this sugarhouse became a sample for other businesses in Bohemia and Moravia.


The First Sugar Refinery in Moravia

in 1833 Frantisek Grebner pick up again the tradition of sugar factory in Kostelni Vydri and supported by money of J.B. Puthon, banker from Vienna, he  set up a refinery directly in Dacice.  The refinery was situated in the house no. 4 in Square Palacky (now arts center), later extended to neighboring  buildings 2, 3, and 5.  At first only cane was manufactured, cane was transported in a cart to Dacice through Vienna from the Italian port Trieste.  It  became the first refinery of cane sugar in MoraviaAfter 1844 only sugar beet from local resources were used.  The sugar refinery brought to the city  economic recovery, drew to Dacice many experts and new jobs were created.  In 1839 the refinery got into financial troubles and all decisions as for the  refinery fell to Grebners associate who called in Spring 1840 a new director- Jakub Krystof Rad from Vienna, a native of Rhreinfelden in Switzerland.


Jakub Krystof Rad, inventor of the first sugar cube

The new Director extended manufacture speces in 1841 by annexing a new refinery building in the court of house no. 4, he provided new machines and in  1842 he put into production the first steam engine in the city.  Under the new direction the refinery prospered and besides officials and auxiliary staff,  about thirty manual workers were engaged.  The sugar from Dacice supplied the southwest Moravia, south and east Bohemia, and Austrian borderland. Sugar was sold also in storehouses of the refinery established in Vienna, Pest, Lvov, and Brno.  For better use of some products of the refinery and to improve its work director Rad established in 1841 in Dacice a manufacturing plant of candied fruit, sweets and chocolate and he involved in this job his  wife, Juliana.  The shopkeepers in Vienna, Prague, Pest, Linz, and Lvov but also in smaller cities in southwest Moravia, in southern Bohemia, western Bohemia, and in the territory of Slovakia of nowdays were buying sweets from Dacice like boiled sweet, gingerbread and chocolate. Inconvient shapes of sugar manufactured till up to this time.  Forms like Loafs, Hats, made Jakub Krystof Rad to invent the cube of sugar.


“Cherchez la femme" everywhere”

Also housewife Missus Juliana Rad, when she wanted to put a little bit of sugar in the meal, had to use the chopper to cut off a little piece from a big loaf  of sugar.  A short while of inattention was sufficient to cause injury.  One day in August of 1841 it happened to Missus Juliana who, cutting a loaf of sugar,  she hurt her finger.  After, during a lunch she addressed her husband and other officials of the refinery present at the lunch, and appealed to them to find a way to eliminate difficult cutting and splitting loafs of sugar.  She herself suggested to manufacture sugar in forms of cubes that are easy to count and stock. 


It was certainly a nice surprise for her to receive from her husband in august of the same year a little box.  There were 350 white and red cubes of sugar  inside  The cube of sugar was born.  Rad fabricated a press and the 23rd of January 1843 he obtained a privilage to fabricate cube sugar in Decice.  In  autumn 1843 the refinery in Dacice started to make cube sugar for business.  For the first time, cube sugar appeared in Vienna called "tea sugar". A little  parcel containing 250 cubes weighed one pound and suggested a box with Chinese Tea.  There were original labels on the box presenting refinery buildings in Dacice and was sold for 50 Kreutzers.  The patent for the fabrication of cube sugar was bought soon by Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, Switzerland and England  A Perfectioned form of Rad's invention is used by sugar refineries all over the world.


In the United States

The first sugar refinery in New York City was opened on Liberty Street in 1730 by Nicholas Bayard.  Most raw sigar  was imported to the colonies from overseas and the city was soon a center of sugar refining largely because of the  port and the high local demand for sugar.  The industry attracted such prominent families as the Livingstons, the  Bayards, the Cuylers, the Roosevelts, the Stewarts, and the Van Cortlandts.


In 1857 William Havemeyer and Fredrick C. Havemeyer formed Havemeyer, Townsend and Company on South 3rd  Street in Williamsburg, where undeveloped land, a deep-water harbor harbor, and abundant cheap labor soon attracted other refineries.  After the sugar industry in the Gulf states was destroyed during the Civil War, sugar  refinering became concentrated in the city where the port had become the largest in the country, the transportation  system was extensive and banks were numerous.  Sugar refiningwas the city's most profitable manufacturing industry  from 1870 until the First World War; 59 percent of the country's imported raw sugar was processed there in 1872  and 68 percent by 1887.


Because of Intense competition refineries in the city tried to fix prices in 1882.  Their failure to do so led Henry o.  Havemeyer in 1887 to form the Sugar Refineries Company (known as the Sugar Trust) to control the price of sugar  and the labor pool.  The trust consolidated most of the major refineries in Brooklyn.  After being ruled illegal in 1891  by the state supreme court the trust was reorganized by Havemeyer, who incorporated the American Sugar Refining  Company in New Jersey and retained headquarters in the City on Wall Street.  In 1900 Havemeyer eliminated the  little remaining competition in the region by consolidating the surviving refineries in the city into the National Sugar  Refining Company of New Jersey.  The American Sugar Company engaged in a protracted legal battle with the federal government over its control of the trust during which its share of the cane market fell from 53 to 32 percent.


The struggle ended with a settlement in 1922 that allowed the firm to remain intact but forced it to refrain from unfair  business practices, and as competition revived, the firm ceased to dominate the industry.  After the Depression, the  sugar refining industry declined in the city as alternatives to sugar and modern technology were introduced.


Western US Sugar History