Warning: Season 2 spoilers ahead! The second season of A Series of Unfortunate Events introduced a new mystery: the search for a seemingly inconsequential sugar bowl. It was stolen from Esmé Squalor by Beatrice, and Esmé will stop at nothing to get it back. The significance of the item in question is unclear, which has led fans of the books and show alike to wonder: why did Beatrice steal the sugar bowl on ASOUE?
That isn't a question that the show answers in Season 2, and the books aren't any more illuminating. There's only secondhand confirmation that Beatrice stole it at all, with narrator Lemony Snicket pinning himself as the thief (though it's possible he was working in cahoots with Beatrice, as the two were very close). There's also no explanation for what was inside the sugar bowl that made it so sought after in the first place. Fans of every iteration of ASOUE can only speculate when trying to figure out what made an ordinary part of a tea set so very important.
And speculate they have. Plenty of theories have sprung up in the wake of the books' publication that seek to clear up the sugar bowl mystery, but so far it's all conjecture. No one knows why Beatrice stole it from Esmé, not really. Warning: book spoilers ahead!
Two theories appear to be the most prominent among fans. One is that the sugar bowl contained an antidote to a poisonous mushroom known as Medusoid Mycelium. The only known cure is horseradish, so it's possible that was what was in the sugar bowl. Reddit user UltimateFatKidDancer speculated that the Baudelaire parents, Beatrice and Bertrand, had actually managed to cross horseradish with apples and, in doing so, created a self-sustaining cure. A core from one of those hybrid apples was being kept in the sugar bowl.
The second option is that the sugar bowl contained either records or a recording of some type that would exonerate Lemony Snicket for crimes he was falsely accused of committing. Viewers know he is on the lam, and it seems that he has been implicated in a rash of fires that have broken out. However, Lemony is on the side of the V.F.D. that wants to put out fires and Count Olaf is likely responsible for any acts of arson. Perhaps something that could prove Lemony's innocence is in the sugar bowl, and that was why he stole it.
Neither theory explains why Esmé would be so desperate to get the sugar bowl back, unless she simply has a vendetta against Lemony or wants to see people perish from poisoning (the last a true possibility). But if Beatrice and Lemony had gotten their hands on the sugar bowl at some point, even if they subsequently lost it, then why would Lemony still be on the run? That seems to discount the second theory somewhat, but it's still hard to say for sure.
According to author Daniel Handler, some fans have figured it out, though he didn't clarify who was right and who was wrong. While talking to The Observer, he said:
The mystery of the Sugar Bowl is clear enough that one that about reader a year writes me and has figured it out, and that fills me with pleasure. That makes me think it's not too obscure. If no one ever wrote me about it I would think, 'Oh I didn't do it enough.' But because one person a year who will write me and say, 'I figured it out.' The whole answer of the Sugar Bowl is solvable.
It may be unclear why Beatrice stole the sugar bowl from Esmé Squalor, but perhaps with enough detective work, the true answer can be found at some point in Season 3.
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