MAPLE SUGAR was familiar to Native Americans, who drank maple sap fresh or boiled it down to syrup and sugar in bark troughs. French settlers in Canada learned of its merits early, well before English settlers discovered it. The sugar rapidly became an article of food and commerce in the late seventeenth century, especially in the northern colonies. By 1794, Vermont's total output was estimated at 1,000 tons, and in 1809 probably two-thirds of the state's population worked in spring at making sugar and syrup.
Shallow pans replaced traditional iron kettles in the mid-nineteenth century, revolutionizing production. On the frontier, with cane sugar and molasses scarce, the maple tree provided the pioneers' confection. By 1900, Ohio's production rivaled Vermont's, but thereafter, cheaper cane sugar gradually replaced maple sugar in popularity. Although maple sugar production declined in the nineteenth century, syrup production rose. Maple sugar production is now confined to the northeast, particularly in Vermont and New York, and takes place from February to April.
Fox, William Freedman, and W. F. Hubbard. The Maple SugarIndustry. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1905.
Pendegrast, James F. The Origin of Maple Sugar. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, National Museum of Natural Sciences, 1982.
Alvin F.Harlow/c. w.