Is maple Grove real maple syrup?

Maple Grove is a popular brand of pancake syrup sold in grocery stores across North America. Their classic amber-colored syrup comes in a large plastic jug with a picture of maple leaves on the label. This imagery evokes thoughts of tapping maple trees to collect sap and boiling it down into delicious maple syrup. But is Maple Grove syrup really pure maple syrup? Or is it just flavored corn syrup masquerading as the real thing? This article will examine the ingredients and production process behind Maple Grove to determine if it can be considered real maple syrup.

What is real maple syrup?

To understand if Maple Grove is real maple syrup, we first need to look at what defines real maple syrup. Real maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees, primarily the sugar maple species. The sap is collected in early spring when temperatures cause pressure changes inside the trees, forcing sap to drip out of taps inserted into the trunks. The sap looks like water but contains about 2% sugar as well as minerals and other compounds that provide maple syrup flavor. The sap is boiled down to remove excess water, resulting in a syrup with 66% sugar content.

Maple syrup can only be made from this maple tree sap. The United States Department of Agriculture has standards that require pure maple syrup to come exclusively from maple sap and contain no added flavors, colors, or other ingredients. Any product that adds sugar, preservatives, or other flavors cannot legally be called maple syrup and is labeled as pancake syrup instead.

So real maple syrup must:

– Come solely from maple sap
– Contain no added ingredients
– Have 66% minimum sugar content

This will result in a thick, amber-colored syrup with the distinctive maple taste. Anything different likely isn’t the real thing.

Maple Grove ingredients

To determine if Maple Grove syrup meets the standards for real maple syrup, we need to look at the ingredients listed on the bottle.

According to the Maple Grove website, their Original Syrup contains the following:

Ingredients: Corn syrup, water, cellulose gum, caramel color, salt, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid (preservatives), citric acid.

Right away we can see some red flags. Corn syrup is the first ingredient, not maple sap. There are also preservatives like sodium benzoate that are never found in pure maple syrup. And “natural and artificial flavors” indicates that maple flavoring had to be added to mimic the taste of real maple.

Compare this to the ingredients for a real maple syrup brand like Maple Gold:

Ingredients: Pure maple syrup.

That’s it – just one ingredient, because maple sap already contains everything needed to make maple syrup.

The Maple Grove ingredients prove that it is not made exclusively from maple sap. The addition of corn syrup and flavorings disqualify it from being considered a true maple syrup according to USDA guidelines.

How is Maple Grove syrup made?

Looking further into the Maple Grove production process confirms that it is not real maple syrup.

On their website, Maple Grove says their syrup begins with corn syrup, not maple sap. The corn syrup undergoes a proprietary process to caramelize it and achieve a thicker texture and darker color resembling maple syrup. Natural and artificial maple flavors are added to give it the expected maple taste.

This is a very different process than how real maple syrup is made. As we know, pure maple syrup comes straight from boiling down maple tree sap – no added corn syrup or flavorings involved.

The Maple Grove production process is similar to making many other pancake syrups that contain corn syrup as the primary ingredient. The corn syrup just gets extra treatment to replicate visual and flavor qualities of real maple syrup. But it ultimately remains a corn syrup-based product.

Grades of Maple Grove syrup

Maple Grove makes syrup in three grades that they call Golden Light, Amber Rich, and Dark Robust.

Real maple syrup is also separated into grades based on color and flavor. But the grading system is regulated and refers to inherent qualities of the syrup based on minerals, sugars, and other compounds in the sap it came from. The four standardized maple syrup grades from lightest to darkest are:

– Grade A Light Amber
– Grade A Medium Amber
– Grade A Dark Amber
– Grade B

The Maple Grove grades don’t correlate to these genuine maple syrup classifications. They are just created by adjusting the caramelization process for their corn syrup formula to produce different colors for consumers.

Maple Grove Golden Light

Maple Grove describes their Golden Light syrup as having a “delicate taste” and being their lightest in color. Real light amber maple syrup has a milder maple flavor with a golden color from sap harvested earlier in the maple season. But the Maple Grove Golden Light is just corn syrup that underwent less caramelization and has more added flavoring to tone down the maple taste.

Maple Grove Amber Rich

Amber Rich is Maple Grove’s classic maple syrup color and flavor. Real maple syrup graded as Medium Amber also has the familiar amber hue and robust maple flavor expected from maple syrup. But again, the Maple Grove version gets its color and taste solely from added ingredients to a corn syrup base.

Maple Grove Dark Robust

Maple Grove Dark Robust is dark brown and has a stronger maple flavor. Genuine Grade A Dark Amber or Grade B maple syrup also has a very dark color and intense maple flavor. However the darkness comes from more caramelization of the corn syrup rather than the natural sap compounds in real maple syrup.

So the Maple Grove grades are not true indications of syrup quality like grades for pure maple syrup. They are simply cosmetic and flavor variations manufactured from a single corn syrup base.

Taste test

A side-by-side taste test of Maple Grove syrup and real maple syrup reveals significant differences:

Maple Grove Syrup

– Thinner, less viscous texture
– Pronounced artificial maple flavor
– Lingering bitter aftertaste
– Hint of corn flavor

Pure Maple Syrup

– Thick, viscous texture
– Complex natural maple flavor
– Smooth aftertaste
– No corn flavor

The Maple Grove has an artificial maple taste and watery mouthfeel compared to the complex maple notes and richness of pure maple syrup. The aftertaste of the Maple Grove is also harsher and lingers longer.

Overall, the flavors are recognizably different between the two. Maple Grove lacks the depth and nuance of genuine maple syrup.

Nutritional value

There are also nutritional differences between Maple Grove syrup and real maple syrup:

Nutrition Facts Maple Grove Syrup Pure Maple Syrup
Total Sugar 56g 60g
Sugars from corn syrup 56g 0g
Calories 200 212

The biggest difference is that Maple Grove syrup gets nearly all its sugar and calories from added corn syrup, while real maple syrup gets its nutrition solely from the inherent compounds in maple sap.

Maple syrup also contains small amounts of minerals like calcium, potassium, and manganese, which are not present in Maple Grove’s formula.

So you lose out on some of the micronutrients and get more processed sugars with Maple Grove.

Price difference

There is a significant price gap between Maple Grove syrup and real maple syrup. A typical grocery store price comparison:

– Maple Grove Syrup (32 oz) – $2.50
– Pure Maple Syrup (16 oz) – $12.00

You can buy twice as much Maple Grove syrup for a fraction of the price. This huge price difference is the main appeal of products like Maple Grove to consumers.

But the lower cost comes from using cheap corn syrup as the main ingredient instead of pricey maple sap. The production process for real maple syrup is also labor-intensive, while Maple Grove takes corn syrup and adds flavors at a much lower cost.

So the price savings comes at the cost of taste, nutrition, and authenticity when choosing Maple Grove over real maple syrup.

Is Maple Grove considered real maple syrup?

Based on an analysis of its ingredients, production process, taste, nutrition facts, and pricing compared to real maple syrup, Maple Grove does not meet the standards to be considered pure maple syrup.

The USDA guidelines require real maple syrup to come straight from maple sap with no added ingredients. Maple Grove is made from corn syrup and contains added flavors, preservatives, and colors. It is also nutritionally and taste-wise inferior to pure maple syrup.

While it may look and smell similar to maple syrup, Maple Grove is ultimately a pancake syrup made from corn syrup with artificial and natural maple flavors. It cannot be considered real maple syrup and simply mimics certain qualities of the real thing at a lower price point and with an inferior product.


Maple Grove promotes itself as maple syrup, with imagery of maple trees and sap collection. But the ingredients, production process, taste, nutrition, and price tell a different story. Maple Grove is a corn syrup-based syrup with maple flavoring, not a genuine maple syrup made from maple sap. While it costs less than real maple syrup, you lose out on the richer flavor, texture, and nutritional benefits of pure maple syrup. Overall, Maple Grove is not real maple syrup despite its maple leaf marketing.

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