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All About Candy

All About Candy - By Felicia

Humans just loooove candy, but loving candy is, well, all about loving sugar. Do you know how plants turn into candies? No? Well, let’s find out!

Like all other primates, humans just love sugar. This was a real advantage to our ancestors: they survived by eating sweet fruits and vegetables that gave you lots of energy. Sugar cane was cultivated in Southeast Asia, where it was used to sweeten foods. This plant was then grown in India, then in the Middle East.

The Europeans had to wait until the middle of the 17th century to make their own sugar in South America, after Christopher Columbus discovered this little corner of the world.

Sugar was added to coffee, to tea, and to chocolate. This is how candy began.

The Chemistry Of Sugar

Inside sugar plants, there’s a molecule called sucrose. Basically, that’s sugar! The plant produces this using photosynthesis, all thanks to the sun’s energy. It then saves the chemical energy to use later on.

Sucrose is made with two parts that are attached. By separating them, you can get glucose and fructose, which are also types of sugar.

Isolating Sugar

In tropical regions like Brazil, India, China or Thailand, sugar is obtained from sugar cane. In Europe and the United States, sugar is made using sugar beets instead.

Sugar Cane

Sugar cane grows by forming a stem that can grow up to 6 meters tall! Producers cultivate this plant in somewhat horrifying conditions where snakes and other venomous creatures are hiding… So before harvesting the sugar, the producers burn the plantation to get rid of any unwanted visitors.

Then, the workers pull out the leaves and cut the stems at the base with a machete. The stems hold sweet sugar inside. Once the work is done, new stems will grow, and they will be harvested next year.

The cut stems are then transported into a factory where workers shred them and squish them with enormous rollers. After this brutal process, a liquid comes out. By boiling this liquid, the water evaporates. Ta-da! Sugar.

Once cooled, the sugar syrup forms brown sugar crystals. To make the sugar white, we dissolve the sugar again and again, we purify it and ta-da! White sugar.

Sugar Beet

Sugar beets store sugar in their roots. They are cultivated in fields, just like other root vegetables.

Once harvested, the beetroots are transported to a factory. They are washed, cut into french fry-like shapes, and plopped into a hot water bath. No need to squash the beets: the sugar comes out from the beets slowly into the hot water.

Just like the sugar cane, the hot sugary water is heated to concentrate the liquid into sugar syrup. After some purifying, ta-da! Sugar.

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