Catharine and I often have brunch at a well-known Montreal restaurant named Beauty’s.  We always order the same items.  Fresh orange juice, blueberry pancakes and bacon.  Catharine orders the more  expensive real maple syrup.  I use the regular table syrup and it is perfectly satisfactory to me.

It is true, however, that it is all too easy to misrepresent real maple syrup.  Rigtht now two American senators have a bill in the hopper that would impose tougher sanctions for the marketing of  other syrups as maple syrup.

Table syrup is sickly sweet.  While maple syrup may be expensive, even a small amount transforms a plain waffle or pancake, a simple slice of ham or cube of tofu, or a mustardy salad dressing.

But does Canada do enough to protect maple syrup?  Quebec forbids the use of the word “maple”  or of maple-leaf shapes or pictures, on any bottle that does not contain 100 per-cent pure maple syrup.   But Quebec is the only province that does this?  Some restaurants still pass off inferior syrups and most customers do not notice or they acquiesce.

Should there be more protection for pure maple syrup?

Is there a difference between maple syrup and table syrup?

What do you think?


  1. 1

    I like brown sugar,actually.

    Put enough ketchup on anything and it works out.

  2. 2

    There’s a definite difference between maple syrup and its many copy-cats (I learned how to make one of those copy-cats for myself a few years ago). And the expense of it is only part of the difference. But yes, like with wines, a lot of people have trouble tasting the difference, and sweet is sweet.

    But I don’t know what you mean by “protection.” Other than accurate labelling, what else could be done?

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Coke, Pepsi, no-name brand.

    Blindfold a volunteer and see if they can tell the difference in a taste test. Whenever I’ve read about this being done, no one can by any significant statistical amount.

    I’d like to think that there’s a discernable difference between real maple syrup and maple-flavoured table syrup but I don’t have much confidence I could tell the difference in a blind test.

    Sugar is sugar…whether it’s refined from cane sugar in some factory in North Carolina or from boiling boiling forty gallons of sap down to one gallon of maple syrup in a quaint log cabin outside of Knowlton. And for all I know disreputable purveyors have been cutting the latter with the former for years and I have been none the wiser.

  4. 4
    Neil McKenty Says:

    One thought. Agriculture and Agi-Food Canada and the Quebec maple syrup industry have developed a “flavour wheel” for maple products, adding descriptors such as clove, butter, or roasted dandelion root, which enables Canadians to develop a finer appreciation of pure maple syrup.

  5. 5
    Jim Says:

    Table syrup is corn starch colored with caramel, and has never seen sap, except the sap who thinks it’s maple syrup. Why anyone thinks it’s maple, except for the colour, is beyond me. When I was knee high to a peephole I would chill the sap right out of the tree and drink it as I would a glass of water. That was a real thirst quencher. I must admit, however, that I drank more beer. The reason was that I could only knock off a few glasses of sap in a day, whereas with beer I could knock off 24 pints in a day. Isn’t it odd that we can knock off 24 beers in a day, but not the equivalent in milk or whatever.

  6. 6

    I was surprised recently to find Quebec maple syrup in the USA for $3.99 in a maple leaf shaped bottle that sells for 7.99 here. I suggest that Canada is subsidizing Maple Syrup to that extent.
    I use a sugar-free syrup, and very little because I like strawberries & whipped cream on my pancake or waffle.
    I wouldn’t pass a taste test-
    Years ago I shipped a case of syrup to clients in Florida. They had never tasted the real thing and I was the most popular person, for awhile.
    I think that Canada should increase our exports.
    There’s no point in more product protection.

    PS: Note to Jim: Did you know that alcohol affects brain cells? I don’t know anyone who drinks 24 beers except…

  7. 7
    Jim Says:

    Littlepatti:- Your…..’except…’. (Your right on)
    You wrote ‘Did you know that alcohol affects brain cells?’ Littlepatti, how can you ask me such a question, when you know that I’m not equipped to answer it, because I’m missing a few marbles – er – cells. You should have surmised that, a long time ago, if you had been been reading my rantings and ravings in Neil’s Blog.

  8. 8

    Jim, I am disappointed in you sometimes, because you have such studied, valid points to make, but they do get lost among your inappropriate rantings and ravings.
    Why do you do that?
    I don’t think you are crazy…crazy as a fox, maybe.

  9. 9
    Jim Says:

    Littlepatti – The devil makes me do it

  10. 10


    I am convinced it is because we simply don’t have the “Wal-Mart” mentality here that they do in the States and we let retailers get away with murder…here is Vancouver I constantly see food items and really all other consumer items for triple what I would pay in the States. Someone should start a website called “” that outs retailers that overprice items that one can get much cheaper across the border. Like Wikipedia, the content would be provided by users, replete with photos of prices they see in the States and here in Canada (so easy to do with smart phone and cellular cameras these days!). Offending retailers here in Canada would be named, with the addresses of their overcharging outlets, thus making an incentive for them to bring down prices!

  11. 11

    Tony: Yes we are too complacent here. Years ago when there was a spike & shortage of gas…an American I worked with told me that Texas had threatened to suscede (sp?) from the Union if it went on. We just complain and pay up.
    I live 3 miles from the US border and have no qualms about buying all my groceries, gas & many other products there. I save about $4-5,000. per year!
    Which probably finds it’s way back into the Canadian economy, because I do home improvement, travel etc. here at home. Win-win!
    BTW: Butter @1.99, Turkey @0.49 Last week etc etc. and customs is very loose about what we buy. We were away for 2 days recently and my hubby bought Bush mills scotch for $20. It’s double here.
    We are going to consider the US market for our next vehicle.
    Canada should wake up!

  12. 12

    Reblogged this on Exchange and commented:

    Believe it or not, this is the most popular topic, in terms of visitors, that Neil ever wrote about on the blog. What do you like on your pancakes?

  13. 13
    Vin Smith Says:

    “me sainted mither” was a New England native from Guilford, Connecticut. Her father was a professional lobsterman. They had some friends in Vermont they would visit, armed with live lobsters to trade for real, honest to goodness Vermont maple syrup.

    “You can’t beat the real thing,” Grampa used to say.

    Indeed not.

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