Sweetness and Power

2050 Words Oct 22nd, 1999 9 Pages
Sweetness and Power is a historical study of sugar and its affect on society and economy since it was first discovered. Sugar has had a large impact on society and the economy that is not noticeable unless thoroughly studied. The following is an analysis of the work done by Sidney W. Mintz in his attempt to enlighten the "educated layperson".

Mintz uses a very basic system for organizing the tremendous amount of data found within in the book. The book is divided into 5 chapters: "Food, Sociality, and Sugar", "Production", "Consumption", "Power", and "Eating and Being". Each of these chapters discusses different issues dealing with the main idea while moving in a more
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By then, sugar and consumer items like it had become too important to permit an archaic protectionism to jeopardize future metropolitan supplies. Sugar surrendered its place as luxury and rarity and became the first mass-produced exotic necessity of a proletarian working class.

Chapter three, the most lengthy chapter entitled "Consumption", finishes the discussion, first introduced in chapter two, of how sugar became less of a symbol of power and more of a necessity for the common person. In chapter two, however, Mintz described this change by relating it to the economy. In the third chapter, Mintz describes the change in a manner relating it to societal values. Sugar's various purposes are described in great length, among which included preservation, decoration, medicinal use, as well as a spice. Sugar as a sweetener was given much of the credit for the shift of its use amongst various groups of people. Mintz writes on page 108:

Sugar as a sweetener came to the fore in connection with these other exotic imports – tea, coffee, and chocolate – of which one, tea, became and has since remained the most important nonalcoholic beverages in the United Kingdom.

Mintz contends that as sugar began to infiltrate the British diet, its popularity and demand began to increase. As the demand went up, so did the supply, causing