The History of Maple Syrup
A Sweet Discovery
Maple syrup has been a staple American product dating back to at least 1609. Indigenous people have a few theories about the discovery of maple syrup. One story goes that Chief Woksis of the Iroquois tribe threw his tomahawk into a maple tree during a cold winter’s night. However, the next day after the sun had warmed the tree, sap ran down through the hole the tomahawk left. Chief Woksis’ wife then used the sap for cooking and found out how delicious it was and shared the news.
Another story tells of Indigenous people discovering maple sap from to the “sapsicles” that are created during the cold months of the year. Maple syrup was even considered a gift from the gods, and an offering of maple sap was made as part of springtime rituals. In early spring, the tribes would tap maple trees by making incisions into the bark and collecting the sap in birch bark buckets. The collected sap was then boiled in earthenware vessels, or even heated rocks, until it had evaporated down to a thick, syrupy consistency. The syrup was then used in a variety of dishes or prepared into large sheets and dried for later use as sugar.
Examining the tools and equipment available at the time maple syrup was first discovered and utilized, converting the sap to maple sugar was an ideal way to improve its longevity. Maple sugar was much easier to store than its liquid version, thus was much more common during its early years.
Indigenous people would collect the sap into pots or bottles then add hot rocks into these containers to boil it. This heated mixture would then be poured into wooden molds to create ‘cake sugar’ or poured onto snow to create ‘wax sugar.’
New England Settlers Influence on Maple Production
New England settlers observed the maple sugaring process done by Indigenous people. Initially they copied this process, but in the years following, the technology of syrup making became more refined. The sap was boiled in large, cast-iron kettles instead of earthenware vessels, providing a much higher boiling temperature. As a result, the sap could be boiled faster, with a higher evaporation rate, creating a larger yield of syrup.
Impacts of World War II on Maple Syrup
During World War II, sugar rationing led to an increase in demand for maple syrup. Due to the limited supply of sugar, the government encouraged the production of maple syrup as a sweetener substitute. This initiative led to the modernization of maple syrup production.
Nowadays, the traditional practices of maple syrup production are preserved, and people from all over the world enjoy the delicious sweetener. In both Canada and the United States, Maple Syrup produces millions of gallons of syrup each year, generating billions of dollars in revenue.
The BrixStone Difference
The maple syrup industry continues to grow, with new technology improving the process and increasing production efficiency. The abundance of forests throughout Canada and the northeastern United States contributes to making the region ideal for the maple syrup industry.
Maple syrup is an essential part of North American history and continues to be an important natural resource for both Canada and the United States. Its production offers employment and helps preserve the culture and traditions of both Indigenous people and colonial settlers. However, the sweetness of our BrixStone Maple Syrup can’t be found anywhere else, and that’s because of our process of harvesting and producing maple syrup is as unique as our area In Northwest Michigan. We strive to benefit and protect both our land and community while offering pure Northwest Michigan Maple Syrup directly to our customers.