Anyone who stopped by the City Museum of Rijeka these days could be surprised by the unusual activity. In the Museum building on R. Zanella Square, the production of sugarloaves started, the way they once used to be produced in the Rijeka Sugar Refinery. This is not a mere coincidence. The museum will soon move into the renovated Sugar Refinery premises, so their reproduction is a good announcement of what to expect in the palace.
Let us recall that in the 1750s, raw cane sugar began to arrive in the Rijeka Sugar Refinery from overseas, which was refined into a conical shape. This product is called by numerous names, such as sugarcone, sugarhead, sugarloaf, sugarhat and the like. In Rijeka, it used to be called kampanul, which means (sugar)bell. It is not known whether the name was used elsewhere, so it could be a specific local term. We know what the Rijeka sugar campanulas looked like thanks to the original mould for their production left from the Rijeka Sugar Refinery and preserved in the Vienna Technical Museum. The mould was created in the sugar refinery pottery around 1820. The City Museum of Rijeka had a 3-D replica printed after it, which will find a place in the permanent exhibition on the history of Rijeka soon to be set up. Another trace leading to what the campanulas looked like are the cones entwined in the hair of the stone head figures that adorn the entrances to the palace on Brajda.
Sugar bells are now made in the Museum by hand, i.e. as individual products The method of making was conveyed to the museologists by Vesna Radmilović, a former employee of the Osijek Sugar Factory, now a pensioner from Rijeka, to whom the representatives of the City Museum were directed by Miroslav Kos, former director of the Osijek Sugar Factory, when they visited him with the aim of learning more about sugar production, and especially about the work process in which sugar cones were formed.
After a brief lesson delivered by Radmilović in the Museum on 23rd July, where she practically showed how cones are made, the work continued with production in three sizes. Freshly made cones are to be dried for two days. About two hundred pieces envisaged to be made will all serve the needs of the part of the exhibition dedicated to the Rijeka Sugar Refinery. The central exhibit will be a replica of the original mould from Rijeka. Other moulds that are currently used for the production of sugar bells will be placed on clay jugs, just as they were in the Rijeka Sugar Refinery after having been filled with refined sugar, and left tucked into the jugs for any excess water to be drained from the moulds. Once drained, they were removed from the mould in the form of a solid, compact. The remaining fresh water in jugs was sold or used in the production of spirits.
It has been envisaged for the small sugar campanulas to be included in the list of authentic souvenirs reminiscent of the palace of the ex Sugar Refinery of Rijeka, i.e. of a visit to the new premises of the City Museum of Rijeka. They will be wrapped in sturdy paper and tied with a rope, exactly the way sugar loaves were once packaged at the Brajda plant for delivery to customers.