Old a cold winter’s day, there’s nothing better for breakfast than pancakes or waffles with real maple syrup -- not that stuff on grocery store shelves made from corn syrup that doesn’t contain any actual maple syrup, but syrup produced from maple sap.
And you have Native Americans to thank for that.
“The person who makes the maple syrup is called a sugarmaker,” The Huffington Post reported. “Native Americans were the first sugarmakers and they taught Europeans the process.”
According to the University of Vermont, there are written accounts of maple sugaring in North America from as long ago as 1557, but the exact origins of sugaring aren’t clear.
However, the Eastern Woodland Indians, including the Abenaki, Iroquois, and Micmac (Mi’kmaq) have a legend about maple syrup:
“The Creator had at first made life too easy for his People by filling the maple trees with a thick syrup that flowed year-round.
One day, a mischievous young man named Glooskap (Gluskape), found a village of his People strangely silent – the cooking fires were dead and weeds had overtaken the gardens. He discovered the villagers laying in the woods, eyes closed, letting the syrup from the maple trees drip into their mouths.
He brought fresh water for the lake and using his special power filled the trees with water until the syrup ran from them thin and fast. He then ordered his people up, telling them the trees were no longer filled with maple syrup, but only a watery sap.
He told them they would have hunt and fish and tend their gardens for sustenance, promising that the sap would run again, but only during the winter when game is scarce, the lake is frozen and crops do not grow.”
And even in the winter, the legend continues, according to the website Firspeoples.us, that it would take a lot of work to make make syrup – “having to make birch bark buckets to collect the sap, wood would have to be collected to make fires to heat rocks which would be put into the sap to boil the water out to make the rich syrup.”