Does Aunt Jemima have real syrup?

Aunt Jemima syrup is one of the most popular and recognizable brands of pancake syrup in the United States. But there has long been a debate around whether Aunt Jemima’s syrup contains “real” maple syrup or is simply flavored corn syrup. Here’s a quick look at the facts behind Aunt Jemima syrup:

What is Aunt Jemima syrup made of?

According to the ingredients list, modern Aunt Jemima Original Syrup is made primarily from corn syrup along with 2% or less of each of the following: molasses, salt, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid (preservatives), sodium hexametaphosphate, and xanthan gum.

So Aunt Jemima syrup contains no actual maple syrup. It is essentially a flavored high fructose corn syrup. The “Caramel color” and “molasses” are likely added to make the color and flavor more maple-like.

Is it considered real maple syrup?

No, Aunt Jemima syrup is not considered real maple syrup by the FDA’s legal definition. To legally use the label “maple syrup” in the United States, a syrup must be made exclusively from the sap of maple trees.

On the other hand, “maple flavored syrups” like Aunt Jemima contain no actual maple syrup and are primarily made from corn syrup along with maple flavoring and coloring agents. So Aunt Jemima Original Syrup is considered a maple flavored syrup, not real maple syrup.

History of Aunt Jemima

The Aunt Jemima brand was first created in 1889 and was originally based on the “mammy” minstrel show character. The inspiration came from a minstrel song called “Old Aunt Jemima”. The brand’s logo even depicted Aunt Jemima as a stereotypical “mammy” character until it was recently updated.

In the late 1800’s, Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood bought the Pearl Milling Company and began selling the original Aunt Jemima pancake mix, which just consisted of flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In 1914, the Aunt Jemima Mills Company was bought by the Quaker Oats Company.

The Aunt Jemima syrup product was introduced in 1966. The original marketing angle focused on the syrup being an “old southern recipe” made by Aunt Jemima herself. But in reality, it was manufactured using modern mass production techniques.

Why do people think it is real maple syrup?

There are a few reasons why some consumers may mistakenly believe that Aunt Jemima syrup contains real maple syrup:

  • The familiar “maple” flavor – Aunt Jemima has a pronounced maple-like flavor due to added flavorings and coloring. Many customers assume real maple is used.
  • Brand awareness – Aunt Jemima is one of the most iconic pancake syrup brands. Some customers assume such a famous brand must use real maple.
  • Label confusion – Terms like “original” and “old fashioned” on the label can mislead buyers into thinking it contains real maple.
  • Lack of customer education – Many people don’t read ingredients lists and don’t realize maple-flavored syrups aren’t real maple syrup.

The branding and packaging seem designed to lead people into believing Aunt Jemima is real maple syrup, even though it is just maple-flavored corn syrup.

Nutrition Information

Here is a comparison of the nutrition information in 1⁄4 cup (60mL) of Aunt Jemima Original Syrup vs real maple syrup:

Nutrition Facts Aunt Jemima Original Syrup Real Maple Syrup
Calories 180 200
Total Fat 0g 0g
Sodium 135mg 5mg
Total Carbohydrates 44g 52g
Sugars 42g 52g

As you can see, Aunt Jemima syrup contains significantly more sodium but slightly fewer calories and carbohydrates compared to real maple syrup. However, both contain around 40-50 grams of sugar per quarter cup.

Taste Comparison

Most people find the taste of real maple syrup superior:

  • Real maple syrup has a more complex, nuanced flavor compared to Aunt Jemima’s relatively flat flavor profile.
  • Aunt Jemima tastes very sweet, almost cloyingly so, while maple syrup has some pleasant bitterness and earthiness to balance out the sweetness.
  • Maple syrup is usually graded by color and flavor. The darker grades have more intense “maple” flavor while lighter is more delicate.
  • Aunt Jemima has an artificial maple flavor that many notice immediately. Real maple simply tastes more authentic.

However, some consumers may actually prefer the very sweet, simple flavor of corn syrup-based Aunt Jemima. It depends on personal taste preferences.

Cost Comparison

Aunt Jemima syrup is significantly cheaper than real maple syrup:

Syrup Typical Price
Aunt Jemima Original Syrup $2-3 per 24 oz bottle
Real Maple Syrup $15-20 per 12 oz bottle

Given that Aunt Jemima contains no real maple syrup, it makes sense that it costs a fraction of the price. Corn syrup and flavorings are much cheaper ingredients than actual maple sap and labor-intensive production.

Environmental Impact

There are major environmental differences between production methods:

  • Maple syrup production preserves biodiversity by sustaining forest health. Syrup is simply concentrated tree sap.
  • Corn production uses large amounts of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and water. definite environmental costs.
  • Many feel that supporting local maple farmers is better for communities than buying corporately-produced corn syrup.

So real maple syrup has a much lower environmental impact compared to mass produced corn-based syrups.


Aunt Jemima Original Syrup contains no real maple syrup. It is essentially maple-flavored high fructose corn syrup along with preservatives and thickeners. While it tastes decent and is inexpensive, real maple syrup has a naturally superior flavor, nutrition profile, and lower environmental impact. But whether you prefer real maple or corn syrup brands like Aunt Jemima ultimately comes down to taste preference and budget. Check the ingredients list closely to know exactly what you’re buying.

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