Sugar cubes are small cubes of sugar, often sold in boxes, and thought more convenient than using standard granulated sugar because they can be picked up by hand, and hold their form until mixed into liquids. They also provide an excellent way to control sugar consumption since the amount is always the same in one cube. Each cube is approximately equal to one and a half teaspoons of sugar and has approximately 25 calories. This can sometimes vary; some may be equal to one teaspoon and contain about 15 calories.
Jakub Krystof Rad invented the first sugar cubes in the 1840s at a sugar refining plant in Dacice, a small Moravian town in what is now the Czech Republic. These early cubes were made primarily of beet sugar, and in modern times, either beet or cane sugar is considered acceptable. A combination of sugar crystals and sugar syrup are mixed together and placed in molds until dry. They are hard enough in dry form to retain their shape, though excess handling may cause them to break or crumble at the edges. Even packaging of the cubes can cause a bit of breakage, especially to the bottom layers of cubes.
You can use sugar cubes as replacement for sugar in hot drinks, though they’re not as equally well adapted to use in colder drinks. There is, however, precedent set for placing cubes of sugar in cold drinks, especially alcoholic ones. The Victorians used to drop the cubes into alcohol, allowing them to gradually dissolve. This tradition remains among some people. For instance in the classic film Moonstruck Loretta and her father toast her upcoming wedding with champagne into which sugar cubes have been dropped. Some champagne cocktails are a mixture of sugar cubes, champagne and other alcohols or juices.
Sugar cubes aren’t just for consumption; they can be used in a variety of ways in large or small food based decorations. A sugar cube can become a block of ice in a gingerbread house with a Nordic front yard scene, or it can be decorated to make a wrapped present in similar or Christmas oriented scenes. Food designers who work with sugar come up with many different applications for the sugar cube, and these can be impressive in their creativity: not only sweet but imaginative too.