Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America [NOOK Book]

Overview

American consumers today regard sugar as a mundane and sometimes even troublesome substance linked to hyperactivity in children and other health concerns. Yet two hundred years ago American consumers treasured sugar as a rare commodity and consumed it only in small amounts. In Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America, Wendy A. Woloson demonstrates how the cultural role of sugar changed from being a precious luxury good to a ubiquitous necessity. Sugar became a social ...

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Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America

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Overview

American consumers today regard sugar as a mundane and sometimes even troublesome substance linked to hyperactivity in children and other health concerns. Yet two hundred years ago American consumers treasured sugar as a rare commodity and consumed it only in small amounts. In Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America, Wendy A. Woloson demonstrates how the cultural role of sugar changed from being a precious luxury good to a ubiquitous necessity. Sugar became a social marker that established and reinforced class and gender differences.

During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Woloson explains, the social elite saw expensive sugar and sweet confections as symbols of their wealth. As refined sugar became more affordable and accessible, new confections—children's candy, ice cream, and wedding cakes—made their way into American culture, acquiring a broad array of social meanings. Originally signifying male economic prowess, sugar eventually became associated with femininity and women's consumerism. Woloson's work offers a vivid account of this social transformation—along with the emergence of consumer culture in America.

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Editorial Reviews

New York History
Examing the multivocal sources of advertising and prescriptive literature, the author pieces together the complex messages to nineteenth-century women in particular about the acceptable consumption of sweets.

— Elizabeth P. Stewart

Choice

A unique exploration of the influences of sugar on the cultural and societal norms and mores of the 19th-century U.S.... Despite the inherent levity of the subject matter, Refined Tastes is a scholarly work with an extensive bibiography that will appeal to scholars of American history as well as those interested in family and consumer studies from a historical aspect.

World Sugar History Newsletter
It is a mine of information that will appeal as much to the historian as to the 'foodie', to the social anthropologist as to the pastry chef... While the book is clearly a fine document of social history, much of it feels as relevant and pertinent today as ever.

— Natalie Savona

Winterthur Portfolio
Elegantly structured and beautifully written... As simply an explanation of how Americans became such avid consumers of sugar, this book is superb and can be recommended highly.

— Ken Albala

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Wonderful evidence... Woloson's book shows us just how indispensable the history of material culture is to any understanding of consumer culture.

— Elizabeth Alice White

Enterprise and Society
Woloson provides an enlightening tale about the social identity of sweets, how they contain not just chewy centers but rich meanings about gender, about the natural world, and about consumerism.

— Cindy Ott

Gastronomica
A fascinating dissection of themes relating to the democratization of sugar and confectionery in American culture from about 1790 to 1910.

— Laura Mason

Journal of American History
Refined Tastes provides us with a better understanding of the ambivalent attitude we have today toward sweets and sweetness.

— Bryan F. Le Beau

American Historical Review
A thoroughly researched, exceptionally well-written, and very accessible account of the incorporation and transformation of sugar within American food and foodways in the nineteenth century.

— Susan J. Terrio

Journal of Social History
A new and innovative way of looking at consumer appetites and culture.

— Susan Matt

New York History - Elizabeth P. Stewart

Examing the multivocal sources of advertising and prescriptive literature, the author pieces together the complex messages to nineteenth-century women in particular about the acceptable consumption of sweets.

World Sugar History Newsletter - Natalie Savona

It is a mine of information that will appeal as much to the historian as to the 'foodie', to the social anthropologist as to the pastry chef... While the book is clearly a fine document of social history, much of it feels as relevant and pertinent today as ever.

Winterthur Portfolio - Ken Albala

Elegantly structured and beautifully written... As simply an explanation of how Americans became such avid consumers of sugar, this book is superb and can be recommended highly.

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography - Elizabeth Alice White

Wonderful evidence... Woloson's book shows us just how indispensable the history of material culture is to any understanding of consumer culture.

Enterprise and Society - Cindy Ott

Woloson provides an enlightening tale about the social identity of sweets, how they contain not just chewy centers but rich meanings about gender, about the natural world, and about consumerism.

Gastronomica - Laura Mason

A fascinating dissection of themes relating to the democratization of sugar and confectionery in American culture from about 1790 to 1910.

Journal of American History - Bryan F. Le Beau

Refined Tastes provides us with a better understanding of the ambivalent attitude we have today toward sweets and sweetness.

H-Business, H-Net Reviews - Bryan Wuthrich

[Woloson] does a fine job tracing the development of sugar both as an industrial as well as a cultural commodity. Her account is deftly peppered with details.

American Historical Review - Susan J. Terrio

A thoroughly researched, exceptionally well-written, and very accessible account of the incorporation and transformation of sugar within American food and foodways in the nineteenth century.

Journal of Social History - Susan Matt

A new and innovative way of looking at consumer appetites and culture.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Wendy A. Woloson is bibliographer for the program in Early American Economy and Society and acting curator of printed books at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

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Table of Contents


Contents:



Preface and Acknowledgments



Introduction: Refining Tastes



ONE Sugarcoating History: The Rise of Sweets

TWO Sweet Youth: Children and Candy

THREE Cold Comforts: Ice Cream

FOUR Sinfully Sweet: Chocolates and Bonbons

FIVE The Icing on the Cake: Ornamental Sugar Work

SIX Home Sweet Home

CONCLUSION: The Sweet Surrender



Postscript: The Sweet and Low Down

Notes

Essay on Sources

Index

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