This chart documents the average sugar consumption by US citizens since 1820. As one can see the passage of time has been very good for the sugar industry in the United States. This is due in part to the industrial revolution and how it has affected society’s ability to have access to cheap and plentiful sugar. However, coinciding with the increased accessibility of sugar to the general populace a shift in the food culture of The United States has taken place. The food culture of America over the past couple hundred years has steadily shifted towards favoring sugar and sweetness over most else. What does this have to say about America over this time period? It is my opinion that this shift reflects a change in the mindset and economic means of much of the country. First off the growth of sugar consumption seems to directly correlate between the economic growth of the country. For example sugar consumption has a temporary peak during the Roaring 20’s but then falls during the great depression and WWII. While part of this shift is economics another side of it is the indulgent attitude of much of America’s population. In the 1800’s the options of sweet things to eat were limited, but now they are almost endless. America’s “sweet” food culture has changed drastically since the 1800’s into something that everyone can indulge in whenever they want. It is partly this constant accessibility and affordability of sweet things that has lead America to have the obesity problem it does, and this trend does not seem to be going away any time soon.

2 Comments

  1. I strongly agree with your claim that increased sugar consumption has resulted in a shift of food culture in America. This was actually on of my topics for the midterm analysis. I noted that, in recreating one of the recipes from Mary Randolph’s Virginia Housewife, the “dough nuts” my group made were nothing like what I would expect from a donut today. Due to the increased availability and utilization of sugar in our daily diet, our tastes have been conditioned to favor sweeter things. A simple dessert that might have been a delightful delicacy to Mary Randolph and friends has lost great value in the span of time between the early 1800s and now. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

  2. I agree with your statement that the rise in sugar consumption has been rapid in the United States. The increase in the sugar consumption seems to have started right around the time of Industrial Revolution. With a sudden decrease in the cost of production of sugar, people were able to afford more sugar as it had gotten cheaper. I also find it interesting how you feel that changing economic times could have caused a change in sugar consumption. Using your example, the Great Depression could have caused a decrease in the consumption of sugar as there was not enough money for people to buy sugar or any other products in general.Your correlation of sugar to economic and social factors, of a certain time period, is very interesting to read.

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