Sugar is ubiquitous. It delights our taste buds and tummies. Sugar is one of the ingredients that makes birthdays, weddings, and the holidays special. Sweets represent events and people that we hold dear, and sweet treats are often associated with things that make us happy.
Most people probably think of sugarcane as the source for granulated sugar, but sugarbeets were being grown to satisfy sugar demand in Europe as early as the mid-1700s.
Eventually, sugarbeet cultivation made its way to the United States. The first successful US sugarbeet factory was built in 1879 by E.H. Dyer in Alvarado, California. The industry grew quickly, and by 1917 there were 91 commercial sugarbeet factories operating in 18 states.
By 2005, 23 highly efficient sugarbeet factories operating in 10 states were responsible for processing 30 million tons of sugarbeets grown on approximately 1.4 million acres.