These Are The Sugar Files

Welcome to our extended series on the ingredient that rules the world

By Max Falkowitz

Published on January 9, 2017

In Frank Herbert's 1965 sci-fi epic Dune, an entire galactic empire is fueled by a single resource produced on a single planet. The planet is Arrakis. The resource is a powdery substance called spice. It's responsible for extending life, granting supernatural powers to those who consume it, and wreaking havoc on the bodies of those addicted to it. No wonder the most famous line in Dune is this: "He who controls the spice controls the universe."

That's Arrakis. This is Earth. But we have a spice of our own called sugar.

Try to name a food that's moved more soil, built more civilizations, shed more blood. One that's excited more appetites and inspired more imaginations. One that's so hardwired into our brains that we can't really imagine eating and living without it. This is sugar's world; we're just living in it.

Which is why we're taking on a little project called The Sugar Files, an extended series where we'll poke and prod at just a few of the ways sugar runs the world. We'll dig into the history it's shaped. Ask why we all love it so much. Examine its endless instantiations from culture to culture. Our aim is to celebrate sugar's sweet moments while documenting its bitter ones. And if you haven't guessed, we're going to get a little nerdy along the way.

We're also going to be eating a lot of sugar and sharing it with you. Stay tuned for candy nostalgia, mind-blowing sugar art, and quite literally more dessert than your body has room for. Keep in the loop by following #thesugarfiles on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and while you're at it, hit us with your favorite sweets, your candy questions, and your sugar curiosity, and we'll answer as best we can.

To kick things off, Kristy Mucci is here to explain just why this is indeed sugar's planet. From Colombia's Valle de Cauca, Allie Wist files a dispatch on one of the world's most productive sugar plantations. Over in Turkey, Robyn Eckhardt is waxing rhapsodic about pomegranate molasses, the sweet and sour syrup that belongs in your pantry no matter where you are. And in Elmhurst, Queens, Marguerite Preston gets a lesson in the complicated but endlessly compelling craft of Thai dessert.

There's a lot more to come. Sorry about your New Year's resolutions.

The Sugar Files

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