Riley LaShea & the Maple Syrup Conspiracy

When we were traveling across the country, one of our hotels was right next to an IHOP. While we don’t normally risk eating in restaurants, as the likelihood that I will end up in an MSG and other nasty food additive haze and then come crashing down with a throbbing headache and a bad attitude far too great, after three days we had grown bored with our usual vegetable sandwich road trip food. Since breakfast foods are less risky than most other foods, we thought, “Hey, why the hell not?” I wasn’t driving anyway.

So, we went into the IHOP and I ordered my breakfast with a side pancake. Even though IHOP used to be known for having real maple syrup on-site, I dipped my finger in for a taste just to be safe. Low and behold, not maple syrup. Mrs. Butterworth’s. Or at least a Mrs. Butterworth-tasting concoction. So, when the server came back to check on us, I asked if they had any real maple syrup. “That is real maple syrup,” she returned in a scoffing ‘you’re such an idiot’ tone. I responded by grabbing her hair, yanking her head back, pouring it down her throat and holding her nose closed so she’d have to swallow. “Are you sure?” I asked in a gleefully sadistic way.

Okay, not really. But I did say, “No, this is not real maple syrup.” And she’s like, “Well, that’s all that we have.” And I said, “Fine. That’s all that I needed to know.”

I thought this was a one-time thing, one incident of misinformation.

So, last night, Shawna is craving a burger and we drive down the street to a diner. Shawna has already done the research, checking out the website to see if there is something there that would be safe for me to eat. Proudly, their website touts that they offer “100% maple syrup” for an extra charge. Hooray.

Once inside the diner, I take one look at the seven page menu and immediately determine my options are limited. But what’s better than breakfast at a diner? Breakfast with all the female Alma Award nominees, that’s what. But, as far as a I know they don’t have one, and if they do, I have yet to be invited. So anyway, flipping to page seven, I discover that their French toast is made with sourdough, aka safety bread. I’m all like “Score!” and I order me up some French toast.

When it comes out, what’s on the side of the plate? Three individual pre-packaged servings of Mrs. Butterworth’s. So, before I can even speak this time, Shawna is all like, “Do you have any of the real maple syrup?” Touted on the website, remember? And the chic says, you guessed it, “That is real maple syrup.” And I respond by grabbing her hair, yanking her head back, pouring it down… Oh forget it. Actually, I just say, “No, this is Mrs. Butterworth’s.” At which point, she picks up one of the pre-packaged syrups and is like, “This is the real syrup. It’s really thick and stuff.” At which point, I was just like, “Okay, thank you,” because I wasn’t going to explain to her that the thickness of syrup did not determine whether it was maple. They didn’t actually have any maple syrup in-house, by the way. And we won’t get started on the fact that there was no sign of real egg on their French toast. Lately, I’ve decided that restaurants take a lot of liberties when naming items on their menu.

But that isn’t the point or the issue at hand. The issue here is maple syrup, people! Maple syrup! That heavenly tree nectar that sweetens oh-so-nicely without filling your body with preservatives and toxins. It’s safety sap! As opposed to Mrs. Butterworth’s, which doesn’t even have maple syrup in it.

No lie. Here are the ingredients –

High fructose corn syrup
Corn syrup
Cellulose gum
Caramel color
Potassium sorbate
Sodium hexametaphosphate
Citric acid
Natural and artificial flavors
Mono and diglycerides

Survey says, you’d be better off chowing down on a freshly severed pig snout than seven out of eleven of these ingredients. Unless the pigs have been eating GMO corn.

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  1. In Oz, we’d call that “Golden Syrup”. I’ve actually had to explain the difference to a few people. Maple syrup wins hands down though =]

  2. As a die-hard, maple syrup-loving Canuck with food sensitivities I feel your pain. I am fortunate to have family living in the Quebec sugar bush area.

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