It’s no surprise that sugar has been on our minds for millennia. First cultivated in New Guinea around 8,000 B.C.E., this addictive sweetener has since come to dominate our appetites—whether in candy, desserts, soft drinks, or even pasta sauces—for better and for worse. In this book, Andrew F. Smith offers a fascinating history of this simultaneously beloved and reviled ingredient, holding its incredible value as a global commodity up against its darker legacies of slavery and widespread obesity.
As Smith demonstrates, sugar’s past is chockfull of determined adventurers: relent sugar barons and plantation owners who worked alongside plant breeders, food processors, distributors, and politicians to build a business based on our cravings. Exploring both the sugarcane and sugar beet industries, he tells story after story of those who have made fortunes and those who have met demise all because of sugar’s simple but profound hold on our palates. Delightful and surprisingly action-packed, this book offers a layered and definitive tale of sugar and the many people who have been caught in its spell—from barons to slaves, from chefs to the count among us born with that insatiable devil, the sweet tooth.