Sugar Riots

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sugar riots refers to a series of consumer protests during the French Revolution. In the winter of 1792, as the growing threat of European war prompted panic and stockpiling, ordinary Parisians took matters into their own hands. Much as other consumers had done over the past century, they attacked any merchant who charged more than a “fair” amount for goods and refused to pay more than the “customary” price. Their rhetoric—the demand that merchants think not about maximizing profits but about meeting their neighbors’ needs—was itself traditional. Nonetheless, their demands were new, for protesters in 1792 (and again the following year) extended the idea of a “moral economy” to sugar.