Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Goodbye Aunt Jemima and Hello Uncle Willard !

As a baby boomer I grew up with all the fun people.  Captain Crunch, Dr Pepper, Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger and Aunt Jemima.

I also have a weight problem.

Post World War II, the mama's of the world grew tired of the hard work it required to cook a healthy meal and they willingly turned to the new world of processed food followed very quickly by fast food and before we knew it our cupboards were filled with boxes and boxes of instant this and that , while our freezers bulged with cartons of "goodies" like fish sticks, pizza bites and ice cream. Demand resulted in mass production which resulted in crap food at a minimal price. Cooking got easier and folks  got fatter.

Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and others saw an opportunity and began  charging people to learn about good selling said people THEIR version of packaged and boxed processed food, coupled with fresh fruit and veggies. People lost weight. Stopped the diets, gained the weight back, went back on the diets and money exchanged hands over and over. The Fast Food Kings saw their own opportunity and developed the Dollar Menu's so our country's poor could be fat just like the rich.

The cycles of fat and thin, good food and bad food (like food can have a character trait) diets and non-diets continues to gain momentum and struck me full in the face this past weekend when I purchased this small glass jar of real maple syrup from our friends at Spence Farms.

Cost ?   $12.

Yes, thats right, $12. Now why on Gods still green earth would I do such a thing when I could spend $3.19 (on sale) for a much larger bottle of Aunt Jemima Quasi-Syrup ?. I do afterall have to feed three grandchildren on the weekends. Three who love French Toast and Pancakes and would eat them three times a day.

I bought it because I am than I was a year ago. I have learned that a larger amount of money spent on a smaller amount of healthy food is far better for my body, my relationship with my neighbors AND my budget. Lets go back to the $1 menu at McD's. Research has shown that folks will buy many more of the $1 sandwiches , filled with little healthy meat grown inhumanely on large feedlots, than they need or intended to buy in the first place. They figure "They  are only $1, I might as well get 2 or 3 of them."

I had that same mindset for years in regards to syrup. The stuff is relatively cheap so why not let the kids poor it themselves so that the pancakes are swimming in it ? So the kids ended up with cheap food that spread far more calories into their little bodies than was ever needed.

Then along comes Uncle Willard AKA Will Travis and his family. Located just a few miles from our home I am ashamed to admit this was my first time with Uncle Willards Sticky Yum Yum.  But I had heard the reviews and hating to be left out, I reserved my bottle. Last weekend we made the trek to Spence Farm ,   paid our very hard earned cash for their very hard earmed hand harvested and  hand created, syrup. It was an even trade. More than even.

Never has so little sweetness volume wise,  given my family so much joy. Thirty minutes alone was spent with my three GK's just "taste-testing" the syrup, comparing it in blindfolded and highly scientific studies , with Aunt Jemima's brew. Each time the kids could identify which was the REAL syrup and which was so less than real. And each time they picked Uncle Willards as their favorite, including the 3 year old.

We treasured that bottle of syrup and drizzled it slowly over our food instead of flooding our food with it. We were actually able to taste the woodiness in it coming  from, you guessed it, the real wood fires used on Spence Farm to boil down the sap. We treated the syrup like the treasure it was, not wanting to waste either our own money nor the efforts of those who worked so hard to bring us the really good stuff.

Something to think about the next time you are faced with the choice of buying a mass produced item produced by the masses versus selecting an item hand grown or hand made with gunuine effort and care from a neighbor or a friend.

We Salute You,  Uncle Williard !


  1. I have wanted to tap maple trees and make syrup ever since reading the Little House On The Prairie books. Alas, it won't happen where I live for there are so few trees period in this area. I did read where you could tap Box Elder trees as they are a maple and they will grow in Wyoming just not without a great deal of effort and care. I've just recently researched it after a memory surfaced of reading a pioneer history of Wyoming where that was done but not in this county. I'll be thinking of you and your lovely syrup as I eat my Mapeline flavoring in sugar water that forms a syrup when cooked. It's what we pour over our waffles. The real deal would be much better.

  2. So true, so true. Now extend those ideas to real fruits and vegetables home-grown. And it doesn't really take a lot of time to cook food from scratch if one cooks simple meals from a few ingredients.

    We have used real maple syrup for the past half-dozen years grown by local farmers. Tastes wonderful. But in another 50 years there will be very little - if any - maple syrup produced in Wisconsin because of global climate change.

  3. Sing it, sister.

    I have a tip you might like! I keep a stack of little glass bowls on hand and serve each of my kids an individual little serving of syrup. They dip each pancake bite in the syrup instead of dumping the syrup on top of the pancakes. This saves a ton of syrup and you get even more of a syrupy bang with each bite because the syrup does not get all absorbed in the pancake. Yumm. Pancakes tonight for dinner, I think. :)