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It’s safe to say that most of us grew up with our weekend mornings featuring a stack of fluffy pancakes or homemade waffles with a variety of toppings available, including a melty pat of butter and syrup. But is all syrup the same?
No! There is a huge difference between the plastic bottle shaped like a matronly woman and the true maple syrup sucked out of the trunk of a tree.
Pancake Syrup: This is likely what most of us remember from our childhood with brands like Mrs. Butterworths, Log Cabin, Aunt Jemima, and Hungry Jack leading the pack. These syrups are made primarily using corn syrup (sometimes high fructose corn syrup, yuck), flavoring, and added sugars, and other stuff. An average serving of 1/4 cup yields around 200 calories and anywhere from 25-40grams of sugar, depending on the brand. Aside from nostalgia and habit, I think the main reason people opt to buy pancake syrup is the price – it’s quite affordable at anywhere from $2.50 – $4.00 for a 24fl oz bottle.
Maple Syrup: 100% maple syrup has only one ingredient listed on the label: pure maple syrup. This is the real deal and once you’ve tasted real maple syrup, it’ll be really hard to go back to the fake stuff (well, at least not without a little nose-wrinkling). Real maple syrup has a complex, unique sweet flavor that’s quite unlike anything else. It lends itself well to breakfast and dessert toppings as well as a way to naturally sweeten baked goods or other sweet dishes. A 1/4 cup serving of maple syrup yields around 200 calories – comparable to pancake syrup – but it usually has a bit more sugar, around 50+ grams per serving (though it’s a natural sugar and not processed). It’s also significantly more expensive, and rightly so, considering it takes 40 gallons of pure maple sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup
Why do people buy pancake syrup instead of real maple syrup?
One big reason is the cost. 100% pure maple syrup comes with a whopping price tag of $16 to $25, on average, for a 16fl oz bottle. This is over 6 times the price of a standard bottle of pancake syrup! For this reason, families will likely grab the less expensive option when whipping up a batch of pancakes for the family, especially since pancakes are considered to be an inexpensive breakfast meal. Also, there are some people that simply prefer the sweeter and thicker textures of the leading brands of pancake syrup.
All right, so which one should I buy?
It’s all a matter of preference, my dear. Folks who are trying to avoid process or corn-derived sugars will fare better by reaching for pure maple syrup, but they’ll pay dearly for the premium option. Others will simply take no substitute for the incredible palate-dance of the real deal. To other still, it’s all golden brown, sweet, and syrupy, so they’ll take either option (usually the cheaper one!) Either way you lean, you now know the difference between the two types of syrup.