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Sugar; the refining of

Sugar was originally exported from producing countries in barrels, in its unrefined state. The problem was that during transportation, not only would it often seep out through the bottom of the barrel, but it would separate - the thick black molasses going to the bottom, then a layer of dark muscovado, followed by light muscovado, the whole topped with the palest light sugar. It was easier to refine all the sugar to "white", rather than separate the different types. (The word Muscovado" comes from the Portuguese for "middle of the barrel").

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