Why do you seldom see sugar cubes in restaurants anymore?

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Dear Cecil: Why is that sugar in restaurants no longer comes in individually wrapped cubes as it used to? Now it’s usually bagged. Marcia W., Chicago


Illustration by Slug Signorino

Cecil replies:

Dear Marcia:

You still see cubes occasionally, but they’re vastly outnumbered by sugar packets, which are a lot cheaper. Last time I checked, a 1/6-ounce packet cost about half as much as an individually wrapped 1/6-ounce cube. Cubes were the sugar industry’s first effort at dispensing their product in premeasured, mess-free portions, and they were an improvement over the community sugar bowl. However, you have to go to a fair amount of trouble to make them, and they’re only good for dumping into a beverage — you can’t spread them on your Post Toasties with optimal results. Consequently, when automatic bagging equipment was developed after World War II, packet sugar began to take over the market. Some people, though, still like cubes — sucking on them is an indescribable rush — and in some quarters they’re considered more elegant. So the sugar companies continue to make them. Personally I like a good cube when I can get one, but I’m resigned to the advance of progress.

Cecil Adams

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.