In the seventeenth century, American settlers purchased their sugar (when they could find and afford it) in the form of a rounded cake that rose to a point at the top. As New England was colonized, bowl-shaped hills and small mountains, usually sparsely covered with timber, began to be named for this sugarloaf. Many such peaks were granite, a rock that tends to erode into humped forms. The appealing name spread throughout the continent, even as the sugar served at table changed to the more petite, cubed form and the loose powder sold in bags. There are Sugarloaf Mountains in California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, and a Sugarloaf Island in North Carolina.

Jan DeBlieu