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Full text of "A century of sugar refining in the United States, 1816-1916"

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uo^rle^l university Library 

TP 379.U5A51 



A century of sugar refining in the Unite 




3 1924 003 621 046 



A Century? of 
Su^ar Refining in 
the United States 



1816-1916 




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The American 
Sugar Refining Company 

HE PAYMENT of the one hun 
dredth dividend upon its stock 
marks the close of the first quar- 
ter of a century of the history of 




The American Sugar Refining Company. 

Manufacture upon a large scale and the 
continuous operation of its refineries have 
enabled the Company to sell its product upon 
a basis of profit smaller than that ordinarily 
obtained in manufacturing enterprises. By 
reason of the volume of its business this 
profit, however, has been sufficient to have 
paid a fair and regular return upon the in- 
vestment of the stockholders. 

Believing that the payment of this dividend 
is an event of interest, we are noting it by 
this brief account of the development of the 
cane-sugar refining industry in the United 
States during the last one hundred years, 
prepared by Joseph E. Freeman, Esq., the 
Secretary of the Company. 

New York City EaRL D. BaBST 

October 2, 1916 President 




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A Century of Sugar Refining 
in the United States 

1816-1916 

HUNDRED years ago sugar in 
any form was a luxury and 
granulated sugar was unknown. 
While for many centuries lump 
or loaf sugar has been in use as a food, it 
is only within the last century that granu- 
lated sugar has become an article of uni- 
versal consumption. 

The improvements in operation in the 
last one hundred years and the advance in 
the art and science of refining have been such 
that to-day the consumer can buy his sugar 
at a price which is less than the cost in 1816 
of turning the raw product into refined. 

In Colonial days sugar was sold in the 
loaf, lump or piece, and the purchaser had 
to break it up for use in the household. 
Notwithstanding that granulated sugar is a 
modem article of diet, the making of white 

Page Five 



sugar in moulds was practised long before 
the settlement of the American colonies. 
And not many years after the arrival of the 
Dutch on Manhattan Island a sugar refinery 
was built on Liberty Street which for over 
a century and a half was one of the leading 
manufacturing establishments of the city. 
That there was some sale of sugar and sugar- 
candy in the early part of the eighteenth 
century is clear from an advertisement which 
appeared in the "New York Gazette" on 
August 17, 1730: 

"PUBLICK NOTICE is hereby given that 
NICHOLAS BAYARD of the City of New York, 
has erected a Refining House for Refining all sorts 
of Sugar and Sugar-Candy, and has procured from 
Europe an experienced artist in that Mystery. At 
which Refining House all Persons in City and Coun- 
try may be supplyed by Whole-sale and Re-tale with 
both double and single Refined Loaf-Sugar, as also 
Powder and Shop-Sugars, and Sugar-Candy, at Rea- 
sonable Rates." 

At the time of the Revolution there were 
several refineries in New York City and two 
of them became famous as British prisons. 

Page Six 



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The one on Liberty Street was standing in 
1833 and a chronicler of the times states: 

"The manufactory is carried on in Liberty Street, 
in the same building, which was known, during the 
Revolutionary war, as 'The Old Sugar House,' and 
which, while the British held possession of the city, was 
used as a prison for captive Americans, many of whose 
names are still legible rudely cut in the solid walls." 

The Rhinelander Refinery, near the cor- 
ner of Rose, Duane and William streets, was 
also used as a jail, and was not demolished 
until 1893. 

Many prominent American families inter- 
ested themselves in the sugar business, among 
them the Livingstons, Bayards, Cuylers, 
Roosevelts, and Van Cortlandts. All these, 
by turning brown sugar into clean, white 
loaves of table sugar, added to their fortunes 
and helped to establish the refining industry 
in the United States. 

In the early part of the nineteenth cen- 
tury the Havemeyers founded a refinery at 
Vandam Street, in a little building 25 x 40 
feet in size, with only four or five employees. 

Page Seven 



In this small refinery was laid the beginning 
of a sugar business which, handed down from 
generation to generation, expanded until at the 
time of the organization of this GDmpany it 
owned the largest sugar refinery in the world. 
Another firm that became prominent in the 
refining business in the first half of the nine- 
teenth century was that of R. L. 6C A. Stewart. 

While the details of the industry were 
not reported with the same exactitude that 
they are to-day, it is certain that in 1816 the 
total amount of sugar refined in New York 
City in a year did not exceed nine million 
pounds. While this seems to be a large 
quantity of sugar, the largest refinery of 
The American Sugar Refining Company 
can refine approximately that amount in 
forty-eight hours. 

The art of refining consists in converting 
raw sugar into refined grades with a mini- 
mum loss of sucrose content. To-day a loss 
of six to seven pounds a hundred made in 
refining raw sugar of average test is all that 
is expected. In 1816 a refiner could only 

Page Eight 



obtain from one hundred pounds of raw 
sugar about fifty pounds of refined, twenty- 
five pounds of molasses, and twent^'-five 
pounds of so-called bastard sugar. 

One hundred years ago all the refineries 
on the island of Manhattan were back from 
the water-front, and it was not until 1858, 
when Frederick C. Havemeyer purchased a 
tract of land in Brooklyn and moved his 
business from Vandam Street, that the ne- 
cessity of refining on the water-firont became 
apparent. This location for a refinery 
sounded the death-knell of inland refining. 
Following the example of the Havemeyers, 
many others invested in water-front refineries 
in Brooklyn and shortly established there the 
greatest center of sugar refining in the world. 
The largest of all these plants is that founded 
in 1858 by Frederick C. Havemeyer, and 
now famous as the Havemeyers 8C Elder 
Refinery of this Company. 

The course of the business elsewhere in 
the United States is similar to that in New 
York City. In Boston, Philadelphia, Jer- 

Page Nine 



sey City, and New Orleans at first small 
refineries were erected back from the water- 
front. It later became apparent that a 
location with sufficient wharfage and rail- 
road traffic cormections was essential. In the 
early part of the last century, and before it 
was found that a seaboard water-front was 
necessary for the refining of sugar economi- 
cally, a small refinery was in operation as 
far west as Cincinnati, Ohio. Of this 
the Secretary of the Treasury the Hon. 
Louis McLane, in a report published in 1833 
on the "Fabrication and Refinement of 
Sugar," said: 

"It is thought that the consumption of loaf or 
refined sugar will not, in the west, keep pace with 
the progress of population, because of the cheapness 
of coffee, which, to a considerable extent, is taking 
the place of tea as well as of ardent spirits; and in 
coffee, brown sugar is generally preferred. Still, 
much refined sugar is used to qualify whiskey, which, 
unhappily, continues to be extensively used in the 
west by certain classes of persons." 

The refining of sugar has, however, fol- 
lowed the development in other lines of in- 

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dustry, and today considerable capital is re- 
quired to erect and maintain an establishment 
capable of turning out sugar in sufficient 
quantities to be sold on the low margin of 
profit prevailing in the business. The present 
method of refining involves between twenty 
and thirty steps, or processes, depending on 
the grade or form of the refined product. 
In the course of a century the invention 
of the centrifijgal machine, the vacuum pan, 
the boneblack filter and the polariscope has 
revolutionized the methods of refining sugar. 
The fundamentals, however, remain as in 
Colonial days. It was then necessary to 
melt, clarify, filter, and crystallize by boil- 
ing the raw product. To-day the same steps 
must be followed, but the methods employed 
in putting through the various processes have 
all been radically changed. Formerly the 
melting was done in a large, open kettle or 
copper boiler, the filtering accomplished by 
straining through blankets, and the clarifying 
by the use of bullock's blood, albumen, and 
clay. A hundred years ago no centrifiigal 

Pdge Eleven 



or granulating machine was in operation, and 
sugar was run into moulds and baked in ovens 
heated to the proper temperature. The in- 
vention of the centrifugal machine and 
modern granulator has made granulated 
sugar possible. In the former, centrifugal 
force throws the molasses free and leaves 
the white granulated sugar. The combina- 
tion granulator and drier, as the name 
implies, dries the sugar and screens it. 

Since 1816 a Frenchman, one Soleil, in- 
vented the polariscope. This instrument, by 
means of polarized light, makes possible an 
exact determination of the sucrose contained 
in any grade of raw sugar. By its use the 
buyer of raw sugar is able to determine, to 
a fraction of a degree, the value of his 
purchase. The use of the boneblack filter 
has done away with the old clarifying agents, 
ox-blood, clay, and albumen. Boneblack, an 
article universally used now, quickly and 
thoroughly cleans raw sugar. Employing 
it, together with the bag filters and filter 
presses which take the place of the old- 



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fashioned blankets, the modem refiner is able 
to put upon the market an article free from 
any impurities. For high-grade sugars, such 
as the Domino brands, are to the hundredth 
degree free from foreign matter. Purchased 
in a neat, strong carton or a stout cotton 
bag, weighed, packed, and sealed by inge- 
nious automatic machinery, they reach the 
consumer free from dirt, germs, or infection 
of anv kind. 

In 1816 the tariff upon raw sugar im- 
ported into the United States was three 
cents a pound, upon loaf or refined sugar 
twelve cents, and its price to the consumer 
was about twenty cents per pound. The 
tariff on most of the raw sugar now im- 
ported is but a cent a pound, and the pro- 
tection of 1816 to the refiner of nine cents 
a pound has vanished entirely. To-day about 
one-half of the sugar consumed in the United 
States pays no duty. 

Because of abnormal world conditions 
sugar at the moment is selling on a higher 
basis than has existed for many years, but 

Page Thirteen 



the price now prevailing in the United States 
is less per pound than that obtaining in any 
other nation in the world. Sugar is now an 
indispensable food product for ail classes, and 
no other palatable article of food is furnished 
the public containing the same amount of 
energy per pound for a price equal to that 
paid for sugar. One of England's most 
competent experts upon diet sums up the 
opinion of the scientific world as to the great 
food value of sugar in this way : 

"There have been few more important additions 
to our dietary, or which have done more to promote 
the health of the rising generation, than our cheap 
and abundant supply of pure sugar." 

And an American authority, in pointing 
out the value of sugar as a food for children, 
recently repeated the statement of the Eng- 
lish expert and said: 

"The prejudice against this most valuable food 
for children is little better than a superstition." 

The total amount of sugar imported in 
the entire year of 1816 would not run all 

pjce Fourteen 




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the refineries in the United States forty-eight 
hours. The amount received in customs 
duties by the Government for that year is 
now taken in at the port of New York in 
the space of a week. Formerly sailing ves- 
sels of small tonnage brought the raw sugar 
in hogsheads and it was then transferred by 
carts to the refineries away from the water- 
front. Now ships of 10,000 tons burden 
land at the docks of the Company and their 
cargoes, with a minimum of rehandling, are 
dumped into the melting pan. Several ves- 
sels may dock at the same moment at many 
of the refineries of the G)mpany. The 
Chalmette Refinery has a wharf which is 
800 feet in length and 80 feet in width and 
contains extensive warehouses. Railroads 
bring their cars to the doors of the refineries 
and take the sugar for direct shipment to 
any part of the United States. 

To-day only a large corporation is able 
to compete successfully in the world's sugar 
markets. Severely competitive conditions 
prevail in the refining business and the 

Page Fifteen 



rivalry among the many competing refiners 
is intense. Not only does it require a large 
organization, but vast capital, resources, and 
plants to draw the necessary raw products 
from all quarters of the world sufficient to 
make a year-round campaign. Employment 
of capital in large amounts, construction of 
extensive plants, and manufacture upon a 
large scale have enabled the refiner to reduce 
his cost of operation, improve the grade of 
the product, and sell the same at a reduced 
price. 

One of the most important items in the 
distribution of sugar has been the cost of the 
barrel. The American Sugar Refining Com- 
pany and its constituent company. The Frank- 
lin Sugar Refining Company, in shipping 
their products to the four quarters of the 
globe require every year millions of barrels. 
This one item has necessitated the acquisi- 
tion through another constituent company 
of standing timber on lands covering an area 
of 625 square miles, or more than one-half 
the size of Rhode Island. The estimated 

Page Sixteen 




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timber which may be cut from its holdings 
amounts to half a billion feet. To insure a 
constant source of supply on a low basis of 
cost, this constituent company has five large 
barrel factories and seven stave and heading 
mills, the latter with six and one-half miles 
of stave sheds. To bring the logs to the 
mills it has had to construct and operate 130 
miles of railroad. Built in the first instance 
for this purpose, some of these roads have 
developed into interstate commerce carriers 
with standard freight and passenger equip- 
ment. One road already forty-four miles 
long, and to which extensions are constantly 
being made, has become the main artery 
between thriving industrial centers created 
by it in a region formerly a swamp. 

The barrel factories have an annual out- 
put of over 7,000,000 barrels, requiring in 
their manufacture 80,000,000 board feet of 
timber which is produced in the stave and 
heading mills of the Company. Prudence 
has required reforestation on a large scale, and 
since 1910 about one-half million of white 

Page Seventeen 



pine and spruce trees have been planted by 
the Company in the open forests of the 
Adirondacks. 

Fine table sugars like Domino Cane Su- 
gars are the result of two distinct processes. 
The first is the manufacture of the raw 
sugar — a brown, moist sugar, containing 
impurities — and the second is the refining 
of this sugar into higher grades of varying 
degrees of color and crystals. 

A refining Company such as the American 
buys the raw sugar in the open market, and 
it is transported from its tropical home to the 
wharves of the Company's refineries located 
in Brooklyn, Jersey City, Boston, Philadelphia, 
and Chalmette, just below New Orleans. 
More than six hundred and fifty ships an- 
nually dock at the different refineries of the 
Company and discharge their cargoes total- 
ling nearly 1,500,000 tons. 

The yearly output of the Company in 
sugar and syrup mounts up to nearly 80,000 
car-loads. Placed end to end they would 
make a train nearly 600 miles long, stretching 

Page Eighteen 




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from New York to Cleveland. And this is 
only a little over one-third of the sugar con- 
sumed in the United States. A train reach- 
ing from Boston to Denver would be required 
to move all the sugar so consumed. 

The moving of the refined product is but 
a portion of the freight business incident to 
the operations of the sugar refineries in the 
United States. The refining and cooperage 
plants of The American Sugar Refining 
Company alone require the use of approxi- 
mately 55,000 freight cars each year for 
their manufacturing purposes. This total 
of 135,000 cars, necessary to conduct the 
yearly business of the Company, forcibly in- 
dicates the important relation which the sugar 
industry bears to the railroad systems of the 
country. 

All the sugar refineries a century ago were 
of small capacity and manufactured but three 
or four grades of sugar. In one hundred 
years the advances in the methods of man- 
ufacture and the consolidation of plants have 
enabled the consumer, at a small cost, to 

Page Nineteen 



exercise a wide choice in the grade and 
character of his sugar. 

Plants have been constructed for the man- 
ufacture solely of certain grades. At Jersey 
City this Company has erected a modem five- 
story steel-and-glass building for the produc- 
tion of the variety widely known as "Crystal 
Domino Tablets." This building, built sim- 
ply for the purpose of economically produc- 
ing this form of sugar, is many times the 
size of any refinery existing in Colonial days. 

At prices for the refined product which 
are less than the sum which was expended 
by the refiner one hundred years ago to turn 
the raw sugar into refined, this Company 
offers for sale over one hundred varieties of 
grades and packings. It puts upon the 
market standard, coarse and fine granulated 
sugars; tablet, cut-loaf and cube sugars; pow- 
dered and confectioners' sugar, and fifteen 
grades of soft sugars — all in various sizes and 
packed in an attractive form in barrels, boxes, 
bags, and cartons, making "The Most Com- 
plete Line of Sugar in the World." 

Page Twenty 



From this assortment the consumer can 
now choose that sugar best suited to his use. 
He may have his powdered sugar in cartons 
with wax paper lining, his tablet sugar in 
large or small pieces, and, if he desires, 
individually wrapped in paper to insure sani- 
tary deliver^' — the last refinement in the art of 
tablet sugar. Or if he favors the old brown 
sugar of his boyhood days, there are fifteen 
grades of that from which he may select. 

Su^ar for tea and coffee; sugar for fruits 
and cereals; sugar for icings, ice-cream and 
preserving; sugar for candy and chev/ing- 
gum; sugar for chocolate and condensed 
milk manufacturers; sugar for cracker and 
biscuit makers; sugar adapted to an infinite 
variety of uses, specially made and speedily 
delivered — this is the achievement of a 
Company owning many plants and capable 
of turning each to the manufacture of that 
form of product for which it is best adapted. 

Manufacturing on a scale involving the 
minimum of waste, employing extensive plants 
and costly apparatus, and commanding the 



P^igc Twenty -one 



services of experts of the highest skill, The 
American Sugar Refining Company has ren- 
dered a real service to the consumers of the 
United States in furnishing them a product 
rich in food value and within reach of the 
purse of the humblest laborer. 



Page Twenty-two 

THE DE V1NNE PRESS 



NEW YORK 



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