(this article was first published July 25, 2012)
Each week, we rummage through the dark corners of our kitchen drawers to bring you an enigmatic item. We ask you to guess what it is in our weekly From the From the Back of the Drawer puzzle. To enter this week’s puzzle, visit this page. To read more descriptions of past items, visit this page. And, don’t forget to donate your odd items to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
Sugar isn’t always sweet. This week, we found a sugar devil!
This sinister-looking tool hasn’t been in use for quite some time. Hogsheads and larger barrels of sugar stored at the sugar factory, at bakeries, at dry goods stores, or on plantations during the 19th century were prone to solidifying. The weight of the sugar,humidity, and heat combined to create an impossible to use mass. That is how and where this sugar devil – the more dangerous looking form of the tool that is properly called a sugar agur, fruit augur or fruit lifter – comes in. The original auger has only the two bent prongs. But the devil has a spike which allows the tool to get a stable and deeper grip so that the curved probes can successfully break up the sugar mass. The device was also used to separate fruits and other consumable products that were hardened and stuck together. Some devils were made with a corkscrew middle prong instead of a straight one. The handle allows the user to get sufficient torque for the serious work at hand. Although some sugar devils were manufactured commercially and patented (one such tool is marked with the patent date of July 27 1875), but the one at the SoFAB – pictured here – is hand forged.
Design: We love such a sinister-looking tool for something so sweet.
Practicality: If your sugar gets hard, this tool definitely breaks it down.
Our rating: A really interesting – and scary looking – tool. Keep it and pull it out on the sugary, devilish holiday – Halloween.
Curated by Maxwell Horowitz and Jingwei Deng