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10 Sticky Facts About Maple Syrup

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Savor every drop of this topping—assuming you’re using the real stuff, that is—because it sure isn't easy to make. Here are 10 tasty tidbits everyone should memorize before their next pancake supper.

1. It Takes Roughly 40 Gallons of Sap to Make 1 Gallon of Maple Syrup.

What’s with the skewered conversion rate? Fresh sap has a very low sugar content, yet high-quality maple syrup is composed, at minimum, of 66 percent sugar. Also, consider this: Most trees only yield 5 to 15 gallons of sap per season. Now that’s one labor-intensive liquid!

2. What’s Fake Maple Syrup Made With? You Might Not Wanna Know.  

Brands like Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth use such ingredients as high fructose corn syrup, cellulose gum, and caramel coloring to create an inexpensive substance which only somewhat resembles the genuine article. Thus, their bottles are usually labeled “original,” “breakfast,” or “pancake” syrup. 

3. There’s an International Maple Syrup Institute.

Founded in 1975, the organization works “to promote and protect pure maple syrup and other maple syrup products.” Among other things, the IMSI is working to develop universal standards for syrup quality and consistency. Naturally, their meetings often include memorable breakfast buffets and, sometimes, this guy: 

4. It Comes in Several Color-Based Grades.

Canada’s system includes four hue-related categories: Extra Light (AA), Light (A), Medium (B), #2 Amber (C), and #3 Dark (D). Meanwhile, in the U.S., Grade A syrup is lighter in color while the Grade B variety is considerably darker and used largely for baking. However, Vermont has its own rubric which breaks down into the following brackets: “Golden Color with Delicate Taste,” “Amber Color with Rich Taste,” “Dark with Robust Taste,” and “Very Dark with Strong Taste.”

5. Today, About 80 percent of the World’s Supply Comes From Canada.

American producers once dominated this industry, but the Great White North’s since taken control: Quebec alone generates two-thirds of the globe’s syrup.

6. In Korea, Sap is Usually Preferred to Syrup.

The gorosoe, or “tree good for the bones,” is a Korean maple that’s been tapped by southern villagers since at least the ninth century. Locals consume its sap in huge quantities; drinking over 5 gallons in one sitting is a common practice.

7. Sap-Gathering Pumps Have Replaced Traditional Taps and Buckets Throughout North America.

“A vast number of maple operations are using tubing and vacuum sap collection,” says the Proctor Maple Research Center’s Dr. Abby van den Berg, who’s been developing a new suction-based method that targets saplings as opposed to fully-grown trees for harvesters with limited acreage.  

8. $18 Million Worth Was Recently Stolen From Quebec.

Just as OPEC maintains huge oil reserves, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers keeps a tightly-guarded stockpile of maple syrup that’s dipped into and redistributed to various participants during lean production years. In 2012, shiftless crooks invaded the federation's primary warehouse and lifted 6 million pounds of the sweet stuff, making it one of the largest agricultural thefts ever perpetrated. Since then, 23 people have been arrested in conjunction with the case but, sadly, a third of the stolen syrup remains unaccounted for.

9. Alfred University’s Offered a Maple Syrup Course.

This Western New York school’s catalogue has, at times, included “Maple Syrup: The Real Thing." As the official course description explains, “The method of producing maple syrup is one of the things in our society that has endured even in today's culture of constant change ... This class will explore the history of maple syrup production, discover the ins and outs of making syrup, create (and eat) some sweet confections, and take field trips to local producers, restaurants and festivals. No prior experience expected.”

10. McDonald’s and The State of Vermont Once Got into a Legal Tussle Over False Syrup.

Vermonters definitely weren’t lovin’ it when a misleading snack called “Fruit & Maple Oatmeal” emerged from the Golden Arches in 2011. Local law dictates that it’s illegal to “use the word ‘maple’ on a product unless the sweetener is 100 percent pure maple." McDonald's’ new dish didn’t exactly meet this criteria, and the authorities cried foul. “The word 'maple' has a very specific meaning to Vermonters,” explained state Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross. “Vermont maple products are renowned not only for their flavor, but for their quality.” In an ensuing settlement, Mickey D’s agreed to start offering Green Mountain staters the option of coating their oatmeal orders with certified, honest-to-goodness maple syrup or sugar.

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The Real Bay of Pigs: Big Major Cay in the Bahamas
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When most people visit the Bahamas, they’re thinking about a vacation filled with sun, sand, and swimming—not swine. But you can get all four of those things if you visit Big Major Cay.

Big Major Cay, also now known as “Pig Island” for obvious reasons, is part of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. Exuma includes private islands owned by Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. Despite all of the local star power, the real attraction seems to be the family of feral pigs that has established Big Major Cay as their own. It’s hard to say how many are there—some reports say it’s a family of eight, while others say the numbers are up to 40. However big the band of roaming pigs is, none of them are shy: Their chief means of survival seems to be to swim right up to boats and beg for food, which the charmed tourists are happy to provide (although there are guidelines about the best way of feeding the pigs).

No one knows exactly how the pigs got there, but there are plenty of theories. Among them: 1) A nearby resort purposely released them more than a decade ago, hoping to attract tourists. 2) Sailors dropped them off on the island, intending to dine on pork once they were able to dock for a longer of period of time. For one reason or another, the sailors never returned. 3) They’re descendants of domesticated pigs from a nearby island. When residents complained about the original domesticated pigs, their owners solved the problem by dropping them off at Big Major Cay, which was uninhabited. 4) The pigs survived a shipwreck. The ship’s passengers did not.

The purposeful tourist trap theory is probably the least likely—VICE reports that the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot on a neighboring island in the 1960s, and the swimming swine were there then.

Though multiple articles reference how “adorable” the pigs are, don’t be fooled. One captain warns, “They’ll eat anything and everything—including fingers.”

Here they are in action in a video from National Geographic:

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Pop Culture
The House From The Money Pit Is For Sale

Looking for star-studded new digs? For a cool $5.9 million, Top10RealEstateDeals.com reports, you can own the Long Island country home featured in the 1986 comedy The Money Pit—no renovations required.

For the uninitiated, the film features Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as hapless first-time homeowners who purchase a rundown mansion for cheap. The savings they score end up being paltry compared to the debt they incur while trying to fix up the house.

The Money Pit featured exterior shots of "Northway," an eight-bedroom estate located in the village of Lattingtown in Nassau County, New York. Luckily for potential buyers, its insides are far nicer than the fictional ones portrayed in the movie, thanks in part to extensive renovations performed by the property’s current owners.

Amenities include a giant master suite with a French-style dressing room, eight fireplaces, a "wine wall," and a heated outdoor saltwater pool. Check out some photos below, or view the entire listing here.

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

[h/t Top10RealEstateDeals.com]

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