Carol Kershaw's Sugar Speech at a Lancashire Speakers Club
Do you have a sweet tooth? Blame the Greeks or more precisely, Alexander the Great-356-323BC His soldiers discovered “Honey without bees” when they had reached India.
Honey had been in existence probably since our ape ancestors came down from the trees. It had limitations in cooking which sugar did not.
At about 200BC the Egyptians, Chinese and Romans were making sweets of fruit, nuts and honey or sesame seeds.
It was the Arabs who saw the potential of sugar cane and began to cultivate it in Sicily and Spain. Sugar began to rival honey after the crusades. The name came from the Arabic Azucar, Italian Zucchero and French sucre. Blame William the Conqueror for the Norman French word becoming the English for sugar.
We learnt in school that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. The Spanish and Portuguese began to cultivate sugar cane in Cuba and the WIndies from 1523.
This was the start of sugar becoming evil.
The triangular trade and the enslavement of thousands of Africans, suffering sickness and death on the Atlantic crossing, were bought as they were more accustomed to working in extreme heat than Europeans.
The trade-in sugar and tobacco made Liverpool and Bristol wealthy.
Sugar was quickly made into sweets but they were coloured at first with lead which is poisonous. We can remember glass jars of pear drops, lemon drops, orange sweets, aniseed balls and humbugs,
Tea and coffee became popular among those who could afford it. Tea caddies included locks as tea was expensive. Wedgewood and companies in the Potteries made china tea sets with sugar bowls in china or cut glass and sugar tongs in silver.
Granulated, caster, muscovado, demerara, icing and cubes are now available.
Inadvertently the Quakers with good intent made sweetness more popular. Cocoa as a hot drink to relieve the misery and deprivation of the poor who could find cheap relief in Gin. Rowntrees, Terrys, Cadburys and Frys were all Quaker families who were usually entrepreneurs as well as philanthropists They built alcohol-free villages for their workers. But they also made chocolate bars and sweets. The oldest was in 1866: Fry's chocolate cream bars.
The sweet tooth had arrived.
Excavations of Egyptians and early skulls show teeth in good condition but they probably died young.
As a result of the prevalence of sugar in so many drinks and manufactured foods, children's teeth are decayed by 5 and obesity and type 2 diabetes lead to an early death.
If money is the root of all evil, sugar runs it a close second.
Sugar has become the most serious addiction of the Human race