Child Labor

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

child labor is presumed to be older than recorded history, but the connection between child labor and the sweets industry is a phenomenon of the Industrial Revolution.

As factories started to replace America’s farm-driven economy in the late 1700s and early 1800s, children began to be pressed into the industrial work force in large numbers—working up to 70 hours a week in often dirty, damp, and dangerous conditions. By 1810 more than 2 million school-age children were employed in factory work in the United States and England alone, earning wages that could be as low as 40 cents a day.