Manatee County pioneers grew sugarcane in the 1840s. Both the Gamble Plantation and Braden Plantation grew and processed it for shipping.
Families growing their own sugarcane was a practice that lasted until the 1950s, according to Cathy Slusser, the historical resources supervisor for Manatee County's Clerk of the Court.
"It was their only source of sweetener other than honey -- syrup for pancakes, sugar for baking," she said. "Most families had their own patch of sugarcane, but not every family had a mill. So they might've used their neighbors.
A popular pastime in the city was what locals referred to as a cane-grinding celebration. There was an array of food, a large bonfire and a sing-a-long while horses grinded sugarcane. The evening always culminated with everyone having a glass of the sweet nectar.