BY KEVIN CUDABAC
REGION – One of the most successful Vermont products in the world, is not made in Vermont. Although the company makes an enormous amount of money from using the name of a state known for its preserved nature and rustic aesthetic, the syrup many people including Vermonters assume is made here is not only manufactured in New Jersey; it isn’t even actually maple syrup.
If you sold salt from Ohio, and called it Florida Sugar, you might get charged with false advertising. For some reason, a company is allowed to sell High Fructose Corn Syrup with “Maple Flavor” in a New Jersey factory and call it Vermont Maid – The Taste New England Loves. The label has a country girl smiling before a row of green mountains, but would be more accurate if it had the towering smoke-stacks seen in Elizabeth, NJ. Many of the so-called “Table Syrups” aren’t legitimate, but many customers are grabbing this brand along with Log Cabin because its design makes it seem less likely to be flavored corn syrup like Eggo and Hungry Jack.
True maple syrup is a great alternative to refined table sugar, it has antioxidants, treats several health issues, and has important vitamins and minerals. Although maple syrup everyday won’t keep the doctor away, it is unfortunate to think people are being mislead into thinking they are consuming a potentially beneficial ingredient when they are really just pouring sugary corn syrup on their food. It is also unfortunate to know that the actual maple syrup industry takes such a big hit with these knock-off brands, and that so many customers have never even tasted the product they are looking for.
Not only can you spot the fakes reading the ingredients list, these brands have to call their product syrup, maple-flavored syrup, table syrup or anything but simple maple syrup to avoid getting in legal trouble. In 2011, Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture was in a legal dispute with McDonalds over their oatmeal being advertised as maple flavored, despite not actually having maple in it. They eventually agreed to switch to offering genuine Vermont maple syrup with its Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. Despite Vermont having strict laws regarding maple products, it is up to consumers to use their judgement when purchasing the many maple products. The price of subsidized corn syrup might be appealing, but the taste of high-grade syrup will be well worth the price and not bad for your health.