2000 B.C. - The oldest known beet type, chard, was domesticated and grown by both the Greeks and Romans. Beets were so well regarded in Ancient Rome and Greece that methods were developed for producing them during the hot summer months.
1500’s - The now familiar bulbous shape began to appear (beets used to resemble parsnips).
1540’s - The root part of the beet was cultivated for consumption in either Germany or Italy.
1770’s - Large-rooted beets known as the mangelwurzel were introduced into England for use as livestock feed. Northeastern Europe was the first area to embrace the beet root as a dietary staple. Valued very highly due to its ability to grow very well throughout winter.
1747 - Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, a chemist from Berlin, Germany discovered a way to produce sucrose (sugar) from beets.
1801 – Marggraf’s apprentice, Franz Karl Achard, opened the first sugar beet plant in what is now western Poland.
1870 – The first successful sugar beet factory in the United States began operation. It was located in Alvarado, California (now known as Union City.)
1888 - Burpee’s Farm Annual offered seven different types of mangels (sugar beets), twelve varieties of table beets, and one variety of chard.
19th Century - The rosy betalain-rich juice of red beets was used as a cheek and lip stain by women. Hence the old saying, “red as a beet.”
Present day - Around 20 percent of the world’s sugar comes from sugar beets. Beet sugar production requires 4 times less water than sugar cane production. The leading commercial producers of beets include the United States (Wisconsin and New York), Poland, France, Germany and Russia.