Sugar and Other Tropical Products
Sugar, coffee, tea, and other tropical goods first appeared in Great Britain as a product only available to the wealthy. These goods, however, eventually became the cheap, commonplace pleasure and necessity of the masses. (28) These goods became a part of the British lifestyle, even of the most poor. Tea became a popular commodity in the 18th century, as is indicated by the records of the East India Trading Company. The East India Company's records reveal that tea "took off" as a major commodity in England during the years 1700-1710, and by the 1750s, over 37 million pounds of tea came to Britain. (29) Prior to the 18th century, tea was a commodity of the royal court. As the slave trade increased, however, the product became more available. In the 1680s tea was a courtly ritual and a source of flattery and persuasion between major traders and the court. By the 1780s, however, tea was the drink of the common people. (30) The common people, however, recycled tea leaves to make them more economical. The prevalence of tea indicated the growing merchant economy in Great Britain and a growing middle class wishing to identify with the wealthy.

A tobacco advertisement card

A tobacco advertisement (80)
Tea was not the only tropical product to reach the masses of the people in Great Britain. Coffee became a staple beverage during the 18th century as well. By 1740 there were over 550 coffee houses in London alone. (31) These establishments became common meeting places and hotbeds of political activity in addition to selling tropical goods.
The coffee houses provided the bitter beverages and an inviting environment for the rise in Britain's consumption of sugar. The slave trade allowed merchants to exchange slaves for this tropical good direct from the plantations and island sugar refineries. As a result, the price of sugar fell by half during the 17th century. (32) Like tea and coffee, the implementation of the slave trade increased sugar's availability to the lower classes. By the 1790s, on average, each Englishman ingested more than 20 pounds of sugar per year. (33)
Slavery allowed these products to become staples of British life, and in exchange for these goods, they found a market for the slave trade and their manufactured items. These goods included shoes, candles, felt hats, pewter, cottons, and even beer.(34) Even non-manufactured goods, such as beef, butter, sundry oats, cheese, and potatoes, found markets in the West Indies.(35) The result was Britain's extensive and almost unshakable economic intertwinement with the slave trade.

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