May 3, 2013

How to Make a Colonial Era Sugar Cone or Sugar Loaf

During the Colonial period, refined white sugar was commercially available in the shape of cones, or loafs because of the processing technique used to refine the sugar. Sugar during this period came primarily from the Caribbean and was typically the product of slave labor.

In simplistic terms raw sugar from sugar cane was boiled and filtered a number of times, then poured into cone-shaped molds. Once in the mold, sugar water or other solution was poured over the sugar to remove the excess cane molasses. The sugar loaves were then removed from the molds and dried. Many loaves during the period were wrapped in blue paper for shipping. 

Fine sugar came in smaller cones and cheaper sugar came in bigger cones as lower quality sugar was more difficult to crystallize and worked better in bigger molds.     

Sugar Cone Prop Recipe

Things you'll need:

- Sugar (white)
- Mold or glass
- Cooking Spray
- Water

Things you will need.
Spray mold with cooking spray. Add water to sugar. There is no real formula for how much water should be added. Just add a few teaspoons at a time until your sugar sticks to itself but not so much that it is "slushy." It should have the consistency of brown sugar. Add sugar slowly into the mold, being sure to pack it down every few spoonfuls. Let sugar dry in mold for a few days. Tap out the sugar and feel for any softness, if still soft, let dry out of the mold for another day. 

Sugar "slush."

Pack it down.

Let it dry.

Enjoy your sugar! Sugar cones had to be broken with sugar nippers before use. (Pictured in top image.)

I've had some questions about brown sugar cones, as many Mexican grocery stores still sell brown sugar cones. I have not come across evidence of brown sugar cones during this period as the cone shape came from the refining process. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, I would love to know of it. As of right now, brown sugar cones don't seem to belong to the 13 colonies during the Colonial period. 


  1. And, as I posted about, I've been to the town where the sugar cube was invented (in 1843). That was, of course, sugar beet sugar, but I guess the process was the same, because they used cones before that. I wonder how the brown sugar cones come to be, then?

  2. Looks nice. :) Thanks for sharing, Stephanie!

  3. My understanding is that broken pieces of the sugar loaf were sold as lump sugar, SIMILAR to sugar cubes as we know them today, but more of a rougher cut.

  4. Plain white sugar that you buy today at the store is from sugar beets

    1. Most sugar lists the source. . Cane or beet. Most U S sugar is cane

  5. Martha Washington moved to Mount Vernon after marrying George in 1759. She took 22 loaves of sugar amoung many other items. I had never heard of such items before.
    From a book (page 66) by Patricia Brady named Martha Washington.

  6. Southern sugar is generally from cane. Northern sugar is generally from beets. I know of two beet processing plants in North Dakota.

  7. Was there any particular reason the molds were shaped like cones?

  8. Does anyone have information on how maple sugar was sold and served in colonial America leading up to the Civil War?

  9. In New England, cone sugar came from the store, wrapped in a purple paper almost as important as the sugar, like the wrapping of a present!


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