It’s hard to imagine a world without sugar. Opening your fridge and not finding

a bag of chocolates or a plate of barfi seems so sad. Sugar is unquestionably

the most addictive food ingredient in the world. And not having sugar around

is an awful lot of spice and salt.

A long, long time ago, in 10,000 BC there was no sugar but only honey. Parts

of the world that didn’t have ice had bees and by extension honey. Americas

didn’t have bees so they made use of crushed fruit and agave nectar from

cactus. Some two thousand later, sugar was first cultivated in New Guinea

which it is native to. At the time, people would chew on the reeds. A few

thousand years later, sugar cane made its way to the Philippines and India. And,

in fact, India was the first country to refine it.


The first sugar mill was developed in India around 100 AD. In texts like

Mahabhashya of Patanjali, recipes called for sugar. So that is the first written

indication of the usage of sugar. In 327 AD, the Greeks and Romans

discovered sugar when they came to India.


Around this time, sugar was popularised for its medicinal properties and soon

enough it was even crystallised. Years after that circa 650 AD, the Arabs

started expanding the production of sugar. Under their rule, it was seen as a

royal delicacy and not a spice or medicine. The Egyptians learnt from the

Arabs and started refining sugar to its purest whitest state.


When the Europeans came to Jerusalem, they became obsessed with sugar

and brought it back to their home and soon enough it was seen as a godsend.

Till the 1300s only the wealthiest could afford sugar.


Over the next couple of centuries, sugar switched many hands and was

cultivated in many countries. Slave trade and the sugar industry were also

quite synonymous. In the modern era, sugar was lost its royalty but it may just

be the only spice that all people adore. Without it, desserts would have never

found a way to be part of our meals and wouldn’t life have been just so dull?