Before The Advent Of Granulated Sugar, Sugar Was Sold To Consumers In?
This is one of those things that, to a modern consumer, seems downright weird and impractical: sugar used to be sold in a “loaf” that you, the consumer, were responsible for smashing up into usable sugar.
When cane sugar was refined into white refined sugar, it was poured into large conical molds after the final boiling. These molds had a hole at the bottom which allowed the syrups and non-crystalline material in the raw sugar to drain down into collection containers. At the end of the process there would be a conical “loaf” of refined sugar left in the mold and a quantity of molasses syrup in the collection container. This would be followed by drying in a stove room, trimming to refine the loaf’s shape, and wrapping it in paper.
That’s where the refinement process stopped until granulated and cubed sugar processes were introduced in the late 19th century. Consumers were sold the whole big hunk of sugar and it was up to them to break the sugar apart. There were even specialized tools used for the task; many homes had “sugar nips” and wooden collection boxes wherein the sugar could be nipped/crushed with the plier-like tool and gathered in the bottom of the box for use.
Given what a hassle such practices would be, we can only imagine that until sliced bread came along people exclaimed “This is the best thing since granulated sugar!” Pre-sliced bread, for the curious, wasn’t available to consumers until 1928.
Image courtesy of MrSeasword.