Honey in antiquity
Sugar invented in India
But by around 350 AD, Indian scientists figured out how to make cane sugar into lump sugar that they could trade, and sugar began to travel east and west along the Silk Road. In China, people were using sugar instead of honey by around 350 AD. The history of honey started to turn into the history of sugar.
Sugar spreads through the Islamic world
By about 1000 AD the Abbasids were using this much cheaper sweetener – sugar. It took another couple of hundred years before sugar became really common in the Islamic Empire, but by the 1200s sugar rapidly replaced honey for most purposes. By about 1400, people in Spain were beginning to cook with sugar instead of honey. But in northern Europe, sugar was still an expensive imported luxury like cinnamon or pepper.
Honey and the Americas
But Europeans also began to force slaves to grow sugar cane on the Caribbean islands and in South America, so during the 1700s sugar kept getting cheaper, especially in South America and Central America, but also everywhere else in the world. Fewer people kept bees, and more people bought sugar or molasses.
Later history of honey
In the 1800s, the invention of beet sugar, and ways to make sugar more efficiently using machines, made sugar much cheaper than honey. Most people all over the world began to use sugar instead of honey, and many fewer people kept bees.
Learn by doing: taste honey and sugar: what are the differences?
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