Cube bars, sugar, 1st half of the 20th century

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Bild
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Collection
Food, Beverages and Tobacco
Epoch
1900 - 1909
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.
Picture the scene: the Moravian town of Dačice (in what is now the Czech Republic) in the early 1840s, and Juliana Rad has just injured herself trying to break off pieces of sugar. What was in itself an unremarkable incident is widely regarded as the hour of birth of the sugar cube.

Indeed, her husband, Jacob Christoph Rad, was the manager of the local sugar mill, and he had decided to try and find a solution to what was then a tiresome problem. Indeed, the sugarloaves of the day were not only unwieldy but also as hard as rocks, which meant that sugar nips, crushers, hammers, and even blades had to be used to break off small pieces.

Rad came up with the idea – actually, no, it was his wife’s idea – of manufacturing bite-size pieces of sugar in a single production process. So instead of pouring the moist sugar mass into large ceramic cones to dry, he filled moist slivers of grated sugarloaf into cube-shaped moulds made of sheet metal, in a design not unlike our modern-day ice-cube trays. The moist sugar mass was then compressed at high pressure by metal stamps and dried. And that’s how the first sugar cubes were made. Rad had his invention patented in 1843 and, in the parlance of the day, he was awarded a privilegium, or concession, to manufacture sugar cubes.

The ‘cube bars’ on show at the Technisches Museum Wien date from a period when moist sugar mass was cast in blocks and then sawn into bars and cubes. This method was originally invented by Belgian Théophile Adant around 1900 and for almost 50 years sugar cubes were produced in this way.

It was only after the Second World War that production returned to compressed sugar cubes. But by then moist caster sugar was available for pressing, instead of grated sugarloaf shavings. To this day, the sweet sugary cube or solid rectangle remains the most popular form of sugar cube produced using the press method, along with other shapes such as the four suits of playing cards, known as ‘bridge sugar’.

Dačice, the birthplace of the sugar cube, honours the memory of the inventor and his invention with a commemorative stone as well as a Sugar Museum.

Manufacturer: Sugar mill of the Brothers Strakosch, Hohenau (Lower Austria)
Production date: first half of the 20th century

Inv.Nr. 80470/1

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