Sugar is a building block of our world. It has fueled tech advances, inspired pop songs, bolstered economies and even served as justification for slavery. Most of us taste it every day, whether in our morning coffee or a late-night bowl of ice cream. Now, our cultural obsession with all things sweet is chronicled in The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page tome with nearly 600 entries written by 265 contributors, out this May. Here, 11 facts from this amazing new book.
1. Missing out: Cats, unlike other mammals, do not discern sweetness.
2. Good enough to eat: Sugar has been used on Hollywood film sets as a stand-in for glass when windows or beer mugs must be shattered, as a means of preserving waterlogged ancient timbers on medieval bridges in the UK and as a (slightly sticky) stiffener for petticoats in the 1950s.