A chef mixes sugar and cinnamon to make a dip for freshly made churros. In another restaurant, a woman mixes in “white gold” to egg whites to make a base for a soufflé. Contrast to popular belief, sugar is not a fattening or sweet material, but the catalyst for change in many ways. Sugar Changed the World allows for readers to broaden their views on sugar. It is clear that the central idea that the authors were gunning for was how sugar truly impacted the world. We can see from revolutions to the birth of different cultures, sugar changed the world.
Sugar is just not only part of a recipe or common ingredient, it could be kindling for revolutions and wars. It all started on the “sugar islands.” Conditions at slave islands were torturous. An “overseer” of slaves once “gagged [a slave]; locked his hands together; rubbed him with molasses and exposed him naked to the flies all day, and to the mosquitos all night” (Aronson 59). Soon, slaves on sugar islands began to revolt due to the brutal treatment. In the fall of 1791, King Louis XVI declared that slaves were legally equal to average Frenchmen. In 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte put an end to the French Revolution. Bonaparte, realizing how important sugar was to France, reinstalled rules that originally freed French slaves. Bonaparte also went to war with the rebellious slaves on Haiti, which lost him the lives of 50,000 men. France pulled out of the island, and in 1804, the Republic of Haiti was born. With that, Bonaparte lost one of his most productive and most efficient sugar producing island. As a result, he sold Louisiana to North America to pay the war debt. Thus causing it to become a state. From the wars waged and revolutions fought, sugar caused lives to be lost, and debt to be paid. This is just one reason how sugar changed the world.
The life of a slave gave birth to new music and culture. Sugar slaves were meant to work and die. No interview of an African slave has been documented. We may never have been able to hear their stories first hand, but the beat of their lives still echoes with the music they created. In Puerto Rico, Bomba is a form of music and dance sugar workers invented. In Cuba, sugar workers told stories through the Rumba, another type of dance that carried on the pulse and stories of their lives. One song even said, “The boss does not want me to play the drum” (Aronson 54). Back then, slave “Overseers” feared that the music would spread revolutionary thoughts and ideas. These songs and different musical cultures are the remnants of the sugar trade and slavery that went down from the early 1700s to the mid-1800s. Sugar trade helped shaped these cultures and inform future generations on the historical relationship between slavery and sugar. Once again, sugar can be linked to the creation of many things.
From happiness, flavor, and culture, to war and revolution, we can see that sugar not only satisfies our taste buds but also impacts the lives and cultures of many people. We keep a record of the past to make sure that events are not repeated. The slaves that worked relentlessly for nothing unfortunately died, but not in vain. They will be remembered. Their deaths and scars will be a mark in history. The slave trade of the early 1700s to the mid-1800s will be remembered as signs of when humanity turns to greed, not compassion. Ironically, the sweetness of sugar brought pain and sorrow to many. These marks in history prove how sugar profoundly changed the world.