I May Be Square But I'm Sweet!
Why am I so in love with sugar cubes? I find them beautiful, sweet and very independent. There is such a unique pleasure in placing one into a hot beverage. I love that they are in their own self-contained package.
Cubes are never found in restaurants anymore-only grocery stores. I have often wondered where these lovely cubes come from and who invented them.
Cubes were the sugar industry's first effort at offering mess-free individual portions. Before cubes were offered everyone used the community sugar bowl. After World War II, bagging equipment was invented and sugar makers flooded the market with sugar packets. The cube sadly took a backseat.
Sugar cubes were first reported to have been made by a Belgian in 1890. He made the first cubes by spreading dampened sugar into a large slab and sawing it into individual squares.
Today, cubes are made by passing dry granulated sugar along a special conveyor as water is sprayed onto the sugar. It water and sugar are throughly mixed as it passes along the conveyor. At this stage, the wet sugar mixture contains about 1% water. It is quite sticky. To form the cubes, moist sugar is pressed into rows of moulds that are arranged around the outside of a circular drum. As a drum rotates the wet cubes are pushed out onto a moving conveyor belt. This then moves along under a series of infrared drying lamps where the sugar cubes are dried. This is all enclosed in a kind of tunnel often called the 'drying tunnel'. When the dry cubes emerge from the end of the drying tunnel they are picked up using matching rows of rubber suction cups, and placed into boxes and cartons. There is still a tiny amount of water left in the cubes so they are left for a few days to dry thoroughly before the final wrapping takes place.
Sugar cubes are not just cubes anymore. This cool company makes sugar cubes into different shapes such as: puzzle pieces; hearts with a cutout to stand on a rim of a cup; small spheres; rocks and beautiful large crystals. It is good to know that the cube is not forgotten only reinventing itself.