From the Manchester Police Twitter feed:
Police in Manchester, England, are looking for a woman with big-hooped earrings and bad teeth. They say she may have stolen three jars of honey. The honey jars were priced at £46 each – that’s about $90 per jar. Those were either really special honeys, or very big jars. The bad-toothed lady allegedly ran off with about $300 worth of honey.
It’s interesting that the store clerks noticed the lady’s bad teeth. After all, this happened in England. The people of the Isles have a reputation for unkept teeth. I’ve been to England a few times and I disagree. I didn’t notice an excess of bad teeth. Maybe the rumour is a heritage stereotype, harking back to the days when sugar first hit the grocers’ shelves a few centuries ago in Britain. In the 17th century, refined sugar became the cultural rage there. Folks let their teeth blacken and rot to show that they were affluent and trendy enough to afford massive amounts of tooth-decaying sugar. How sweet is that?
There is more to England’s sugar tale. The enormous popularity of sugar peaked when it was prohibitively expensive. Before long, sugar lost its allure as a symbol of trendy status. The first-ever boycott, instigated by the radical left in 1792, was a protest against West Indies sugar companies which were fueled by the labour of slaves kidnapped in Africa and hauled across the Atlantic to cruelly work the Caribbean cane fields. The boycott gained momentum when drawings of slave ships were published, showing people packed in the hulls of the slave traders’ vessels. Sugar was suddenly tainted by the obscenity of slavery. By 1800, sales of the white powder fell from 5 pounds per family per week to half as much. Temporarily. The English protests and boycotts worked, English involvement in the slave trade ended, and sugar consumption climbed again. Not that conditions actually improved for the slaves, of course.
Throughout the great sugar boycotts, honey continued to be popular. Since it was produced by rustic countryside bees and craftsmen, it avoided the brutal history of its sugary rival. Honey prices temporarily soared during the boycott. And teeth became whiter – an old tooth-whitening treatment included wine, vinegar, and honey. [Which I don’t recommend.] All of this makes us wonder about the lady with bad teeth, accused of lifting honey from that trendy shop in downtown Manchester. Be cautious. If you see a bad-toothed female wearing turquoise jeans and large hoopy earrings, don’t tackle her alone. Call the Manchester men in blue. After all, the whole episode may be nothing more than a sting operation.