“The introduction of coffee, tea, and cocoa into Europe provided the well-off with an alternative to alcohol for the 1st time in history. Chocolate drinking, coffee houses, and afternoon tea all acquired a gentility far removed from ale house bawdiness, and became 1st a luxurious amenity, then by the 4th quarter of the 17th century a middle-class necessity. But all 3 were crude, often bitter, and unconsumable, it was said, without sugar. From about 1680 the fashion for these hot drinks became a potent factor in the surge in sugar demand and consequent increased production, which progressively raised the sugar trade to the point of importance which it had assumed by 1700.During the 2nd half of the 18th century the temperance cause developed into an important social movement, initiated by various Protestant denominations and therefore strongest in northern Europe, in countries such as Britain and the Netherlands.
“Sugared tea became the respectable alternative to beer or wine long before water was safe to drink without boiling. These changes in social habits significantly increased the demand for sugar and were probably responsible for about half of the increased trade. Socially conscious tea drinkers would either refuse sugar in their brew or only drink East India Sugar. The ingenious wording of a certain English china ware-house’s advertisement for sugar basins in the early 1800s exploited the contemporary wave of liberal thinking: ‘East India Sugar not made by Slaves,’ the pots were printed, thus enabling the purchaser to display his conscience publicly. ‘A Family that uses 5lb of Sugar a Week,’ the advertisement continued, ‘will, by using East India instead of West India, for 21 Months, prevent the Slavery, or Murder, of one Fellow Creature! Eight such Families in 191⁄2 years will prevent the Slavery, or Murder of 100!’” — from “Sugar and the Slave Trade,” H. Hobhouse
In the Georgian era, lumps of sugar, cracked from the loaf with steel sugar nippers, were lifted from sugar bowl to tea cup, with the aid of sugar tongs. The earliest reference to this constituent of the silver tea-equipage appears in W. King's cookery book, published in 1708. These early scissor-shaped sugar tongs resembled candle douters, with loop handles and scrolled stems, terminating in wide, flat, shell-shaped claws for holding the sugar.
The scissor design long retained its popularity and, as with scissors themselves, included the stork design of the third quarter of the eighteenth century. In this the tongs resembled a long-beaked stork, consisting of two long has joined together by a rivet forming the bird's eyes and serving as a pivot the body was shaped and chased to resemble wing feathers and the legs ended in circular loops for the fingers. — “1500-1820: Three Centuries of English Domestic Silver,” by Bernard and Therle Hughs, 1952
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