case 16 advertising ephemera for sugar and molasses

Sugar and Molasses Ephemera


These advertising materials, giveaways from sugar and molasses companies, show the marketing of sugar to the home consumer. By the early twentieth century, sugar was an unremarkable household staple, as common as flour or salt. The emphasis in advertising was on what made a particular brand of sugar superior for home use. Companies marketed sugar as a thoroughly modern product, manufactured in large industrial facilities using the latest technology. Ads stressed sugar's purity and quality as well as its modern sanitary packaging. Recipe books portrayed sugar-sweetened dishes as a necessary element of both everyday and festive eating. Molasses, meanwhile, retained an old-fashioned, homespun air, and companies marketed its folksy appeal as an element of traditional culinary practices, with recipes like gingerbread, molasses taffy, and popcorn balls.


children pulling taffy

Franklin Sugar Candy Book. 1906 [Culinary Ephemera Box 81]


This illustration, the center spread of the pamphlet (published the same year that the first Pure Food and Drug Act was passed) plays on the association between sweets and childhood. It shows exactly the state of affairs the home candy-making manuals of the 1880s recommended, depicting a taffy-pull as a wholesome, adult-supervised activity that provides a safe environment for children to consume candy.


sugar packaging machinery and sugar packages

How to Make Delicious Sweets from Franklin Granulated Sugar. 1913


candy recipes and a dish of candy and a setup for making candy

Caroline B. King Sweetmeats: a Franklin Sugar Book of Recipes for Making Candies and Bonbons, Conserves, Cake Icings, and Meringues. 1923. [Culinary Ephemera Box 81]

The introductory material to this book of recipes vaunts the modern and sanitary processing and packaging of the company's sugar. It boasts that throughout the refining the sugar is untouched by human hands, and protected from contamination.


sugar making machinery

C&H Sugar Something About Sugar. 1923 [Culinary Ephemera Box 81]

This pamphlet gives an account of sugar production from the harvesting of the cane to the packaging of the sugar, with an emphasis on the processing of sugar from cane to crystallized sugar. It's illustrated with pictures of the C&H sugar plant in Crockett, California, empasizing the company's use of modern technology.


Sugar cane

Jack Frost Sugar Jack and the Sugar Cane. 193-? [Culinary Ephemera Box 81]

This pamphlet, aimed at children, follows the fictional character Jack Frost on a journey to find out how sugar is produced. Jack hops off the sugar box and travels to the cane fields of Cuba, and then follows the cane as it's harvested and processed into sugar. The center pages show a simplified map of the world's sugar-producing regions.


Rabbit in a tail coat with a can of molasses and trays of gingerbread

Ruth Washburn Jordan Old-fashioned Molasses Goodies by Ruth Washburn Jordan. 1932 [Culinary Ephemera Box 81]

This recipe pamphlet, published by the makers of Brer Rabbit Molasses, trades on the association of molasses with old-fashioned recipes. It includes thirteen recipes for gingerbread, an iconic traditional dessert. The lengthy introduction is written in a chatty, confidential tone, and the figure of Brer Rabbit calls up associations with the folk tales of which he is the hero.


book cover with stylized dove

An Emblem of Purity: Dove Brand New Orleans Molasses. 192-? [Culinary Ephemera Box 81]

The introdction to this recipe booklet promotes molasses as a health food, boasting of its use in sanatoriums, its nutritiousness, and its digestibility