Sugar snips

Sugar snips

...lumps could be broken off using the sugar cutters...

Refined white sugar was traditionally sold in a tall conical shaped block called a sugar 'loaf'. Granulated and cube sugars were only introduced in the late 19th century, and sugar loaves were still common until well into the 20th century.

A sugar loaf could be between 30cm to 90cm high and was hung from the kitchen ceiling so lumps could be broken off using sugar cutters, nips or snips as they were variously called. These were shaped something like large heavy pliers, with blades attached. Cutters had to be strong and tough because of the large size of the loaves.

The large lumps of sugar cut off the loaf were then ground up in a pestle and mortar.

Quick Facts

  • Made of iron
  • Period Victorian/20th Century
  • Dimensions Length 23.3cm, Width 10cm, Thickness 1.2cm
  • Accession number 2788.1979


  • This item now forms part of the education collection at Tudor House.
  • The sugar loaf was the end product of a process that saw the dark molasses-rich raw sugar, which had been imported from sugar cane growing regions such as the Caribbean and Brazil, refined into white sugar.

Did you know?

The Portuguese explorers who discovered Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 1502 named Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the city's major tourist attractions, because of its resemblance to a sugar loaf cone.

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