Cracker Barrel Maple Syrup Struck By Shrink Ray And Sugar Ray


Reader Kimaroo noticed that something was amiss with the with the single-serve bottle of maple syrup she receives with her French toast at Cracker Barrel. Not only did it seem smaller, she could have sworn that the bottle used to contain 100% maple syrup instead of “100% Pure Natural Syrup.” Fortunately, she had another bottle from a different Cracker Barrel visit stashed at home, and was able to compare the ingredients. Indeed, her maple syrup had been hit by the Grocery Sugar Ray: nearly half of its mapley goodness has been replaced with cane syrup.

I just wanted to alert you to another case of the Grocery Shrink Ray, but this time… at Cracker Barrel. When I eat French Toast at Cracker Barrel, I don’t use the syrup because it comes with powdered sugar and that is sweet enough for me. So I make a habit of bringing the syrup bottle home with me because we use it later on other foods.

So tonight I went to Cracker Barrel and noticed that the syrup now says “100% Pure Natural Syrup” and while I was sitting there I could have sworn that it used to be 100% Maple Syrup, because, frankly, I wouldn’t bother saving tiny bottles of non-maple syrup.

I used part of the syrup at the table tonight, but I cleaned it up and brought it home to make sure that I wasn’t just seeing things or remembering wrong.

I brought out my little bottle from the pantry and we compared to the new bottle from tonight. The differences aren’t just the level of maple syrup! Shockingly the size has also shrank!

The differences are:

Old: 100% Pure Maple Syrup 1.7oz
New: 100% Pure Natural Syrup 55% Pure Maple Syrup / 45% Cane Syrup 1.5oz

I remember from a about 6 months ago, we happened to catch a peek in the kitchen. A large sign was posted that said “REMEMBER: EACH SYRUP COSTS $1.50, GIVE ONLY ONE” or something similar to that. I guess they couldn’t keep the syrup machine going without having to scale back in both quality and quantity.

Also, note that the word “Vermont” has been removed from the front label.

Having to scale back their syrup generosity is understandable, especially with rising syrup prices. At least they didn’t switch to maple-flavored sugar syrup years ago.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr_Human says:

    I’m more offended by the tricky label (“100% Pure Natural Syrup”? Please.) than the change. Although if you’re not using pure maple syrup with your pancakes or waffles, you shouldn’t bother with them. I didn’t learn that until I was 30.

    • Sheogorath says:

      At least it’s cane sugar and not HFCS.

      Delicious corn syrup. And it’s %100 natural! It comes from corn, right?

    • katstermonster says:

      @Mr_Human: I was talking to a friend one time about how I hate eating breakfast in diners because I don’t eat eggs and they often don’t have real maple syrup. She said, “What do you mean, real maple syrup? They give you syrup!”

      She didn’t even realize that the Mrs. Butterworth’s she’d been using all those years wasn’t from maple trees. *Facepalm*

    • Charmander says:

      @Mr_Human: I so agree. We never use anything but pure maple syrup, which we try to buy at places like Costco and Trader Joe’s, because it is very expensive.

      It’s funny, but I’ve never bought any other kind of syrup, because my mom always used 100% maple syrup, so when I actually did taste Aunt Jemima’s syrup – I was disgusted.

      Buying real maple syrup is definitely worth it.

  2. Shadowfire says:

    It’s still from Maple Grove Farms. I wonder what those fine folks think of this change? I know being a Vermonter, I’m not terribly impressed.

    But then again, real maple syrup? –yum–

  3. mrsam says:

    It looks to me like a good chunk of that buck-fifty is the cost of the plastic bottle. There’s got to be a more cost-effective way of packaging single servings of maple syrup.

    At one diner I occasionally frequented, the waitress always brings out a bucket full maple syrup in sealed plastic containers. You peel off the top, and pour out the syrupy goodness. I used at most two containers, it was more than enough for my order, and by eyeballing the picture, it looks like even the shrunk bottle holds at least six-eight cups’ worth of syrup.

  4. Tim says:

    It’s also tricky that it’s still from “Maple Grove Farms.”

    But pure maple syrup isn’t cheap. I usually buy local stuff when I visit my parents’ place in Pensylvania, and it’s like $15 for a quart.

    • Megalomania says:

      @TCama: there’s something to be said about being a massive restaurant chain when it comes to getting discounts on stuff… however, I’m sure that enough people won’t notice/won’t care to offset those who refuse to accept lessened quality.

  5. bornonbord says:

    As a restaurant, Cracker Barrel should be aware that when you mess with a recipe that people have come to know and love, their clientele will get upset.

    Although I’m not a regular patron, french toast in general is delicious when slathered in salted butter and 100% pure Vermont maple syrup.

    On the other hand, that’s some expensive-ass syrup for a us-wide chain to use.

    But, if you want to set yourself apart from the others…. quality products is one way to.

    What’s the cost of French Toast at a Cracker Barrel?

  6. tkates says:

    I don’t mind paying extra for maple syrup, but it had better be real maple syrup.

  7. ZeusThaber says:

    at least they aren’t switching to those cheap oak or poplar syrups.


  8. frodolives35 says:

    My family will kill me if they knew (Vermont roots) but I prefer cane syrup over the maple syrup I was force feed all my life. Of cource we all know the stuff that is sold is not the best stuff and my uncle and cousins make some great syrup.

  9. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    Damned flatlanders.

  10. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    Meh, I’ve never been a fan of maple syrup, really. I suppose I only put it on waffles at home out of habit, and even then, it’s the Roddenberry’s Butter Maple Syrup Product. I’ve also never really been a fan of Cracker Barrel’s pancakes or french toast. Their Old Timer’s or Smokehouse breakfast is pretty awesome though.

    I suppose I will get pilloried for saying that I much prefer IHOP’s strawberry syrup to any variety of maple, even the 100% pure kind.

  11. Mackinstyle says:


    • ChuckECheese says:

      @Mackinstyle: @Mackinstyle: Why should Canada be angry? It’s almost assured that the new, redacted “Maple Grove Farms” is some erabliere de Quebec where the supplies are greater than Vermont and the prices cheaper.

  12. inadequatewife says:

    I grew up thinking “maple syrup” was Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworths. Never had real maple syrup until I was an adult and my husband introduced me to the real thing.

    Every spring we head to the maple farm 20 minutes away and buy a 4-liter tin for $55.00 – very pricey but worth every penny and we support a local farmer. We keep the big tin in the freezer which turns the syrup into a thick sludge, but keeps it from getting moldy. We transfer smaller quantities to a syrup dispenser which we keep in the fridge.

    This article definitely affects my impression of Cracker Barrel. Even though they’re a big chain, I figured they were a little more “home cooked” than the typical place that just microwaves precooked food.

    I agree with everyone else that they should use dispensers on the table, with real maple syrup. Less expensive packaging with the real product seems like a winning combination.

  13. The Cheat says:
  14. Kishi says:

    Well, let’s be honest, Sugar Ray hasn’t really done much in years, and their latest CD isn’t getting the press they wanted, so they’ve got to find something to do.

  15. Laura Northrup says:

    @katstermonster: The very idea that people don’t know the difference between maple syrup and table syrup makes me very, very sad.

    I grew up on Mrs. Butterworth’s (maple flavored sugar water) but we switched to only actual maple syrup when I was probably middle school aged. I never looked back.

    Now, when I can’t afford maple syrup, I just don’t bother. I use it on pancakes, waffles, and to sweeten plain yogurt. Nom.

  16. Tim says:

    I make my own maple syrup at home.

    Well, I did in college. We did it with the buckets and a sugar shack and all.

  17. Snarkysnake says:

    This story just nicely sums up what has happened to American consumers over the last couple of decades: Quality products have been adulterated ,cut ,watered down and ruined by companies that just want to make a quick buck. They play Jedi mind games with label nomenclature that is technically correct but still not totally honest (or downright disingenuous) to convince us to pay top dollar for shoddy goods.

    Craker Barrel could use top quality maple syrup if they wanted to. But some accountant or other bean counter convinced management that we consumers are too stupid to know the difference and they can put the ($) difference in their pockets . (It probably won’t go to the rightful owners – managements nowadays gobble up any gains in profitability so fast that there is seldom much left over for the shareholders)

    I personally would love to see where the orange juice that they serve comes from. (I’ll bet its from Costa Rica or Brazil). The best orange juice in the world is grown here ,but mangements of these chains feel that you don’t deserve it. They will pay to import juice from anywhere on the planet to save a few cents rather than serve the very best.

  18. fencepost says:

    That article is from March, how are syrup prices now? According to [] the US 2009 harvest was the largest since 1944, up 22% since 2008.

  19. lostsynapse says:

    Sadly there is a good chance that at some point most of our maples will be wiped out like the elm and American chestnut. The current candidate is the Asian Longhorned Beetle which comes over in Chinese shipping pallets. [] When this happens, real maple syrup will become a rich man’s delicacy.

  20. jacques says:

    These guys are damn lucky they don’t have a restaurant in VT. IHOP opened in Burlington earlier this year, it’s the only one of the chain to serve real syrup (at a $.99 upcharge, of course), since they knew that cane syrup crap wouldn’t fly.

  21. I'm a tweeple too! says:

    Maybe part of the problem is people “stashing” one at home?

    Rising costs from “stashing” are included in the shrink ray.

  22. aplusboy says:

    I never eat at Cracker Barrel. They have a long history of discrimination against gay employees. It’s just a bad corporate culture. It took ten years of boycotts and protests from various gay groups to get CB to change their discrimination policy against gay employees. Ten years. So, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn about what’s in their syrup.

  23. NikonGal says:

    I think it’s important to post Cracker Barell’s reason for doing the switch:

    Read it here:

  24. savdavid says:

    Instead of raising their price, they lower their quality.

  25. coffeeswirl says:

    I never liked Cracker Barrel. They don’t offer any kind of low-fat salad dressing and all of their vegetables come with meat. Oh you wanted sting beans? Here they are, covered in bacon.

    I like occasionally eating fatty foods just as much as anyone else, but when I think “home-cooked meal” I don’t think “added lard to every recipe”.

  26. kcvaliant says:

    Let me get this correct, people are complaining over free syrup??

    • baquwards says:

      @kcvaliant: Trust me you pay for that syrup. To pay $6-8 for french toast or pancakes, which are insanely cheap to make, I don’t consider the syrup “free” by any means.

  27. CFinWV says:

    @katstermonster: I can taste the difference primarily because I think real maple syrup is nasty. Personal preference really.

  28. tankertodd says:

    I don’t fault Cracker Barrel for replacing pure maple syrup with something less pure. Syrup is very expensive these days and cutting it with something else probably tastes almost as good. I do fault these companies when they don’t come clean with their shrink ray and watering down.

    They’re saving money. They should come clean and tell us what they’ve done. Most consumers will probably be fine with it – they’d rather pay the same for their pancakes and have the quality decrease by some amount than pay more.

  29. matt1978 says:

    Folks, before everyone here gets all crazy on how the packaging is wasteful, with it being single serve and whatnot, please remember this: At any restaurant that serves a syrup dispenser with anything, there has been a patron who has licked the top of the bottle. Shoney’s, Waffle House, IHOP, etc, somebody has licked a drop of syrup off of the plastic. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking it was cleaned between that person and you, either.

  30. Ronin-Democrat says:


    Even the “real America” can be scammy schmucks!

    I wonder how much they paid their legal department to come up with that label..

    I think they would have been better off leaving the label off and just buying some dirty dishwater “pancake” syrup and selling that.

  31. RvLeshrac says:


    Too bad you have to be in a place that gets *plenty* of snow to take advantage of it!

  32. katstermonster says:

    @I’m a tweeple too!: She paid for it…so you’re saying that people should pay for stuff they don’t use to prevent prices from rising? The implications of that idea are staggeringly bad.

  33. Laura Northrup says:

    @I’m a tweeple too!: This would make sense if they re-used the bottle if you left it behind. They don’t.

  34. Red_Eye says:

    Well there is one more place not to frequent

  35. PLATTWORX says:


    Huh? Yes, pure maple syrup can be pricey but how on Earth is Cracker Barel paying $1.50 for each 1.7 ounces of it (old bottle)?? I can get a bottle of pure maple syrup at my local grocery store for about $6 (store brand). I was just looking at it last week.

    That store bottle would probably fill 10 of these little Cracker Barrel bottles. How are they paying $1.50 for each small bottle.

  36. happymom2007 says:

    I live next to Geauga County, OH who makes a lot of maple syrup. I can’t handle the fake stuff and refuse to have it in my home. CB has some good meals, but what they did to the maple syrup is horrendous!

  37. dazex says:

    I am willing to bet that the $1.50 that the syrup costs is the cost of the little bottles in the “Country Store” and not the actual cost of one. They probably say give only one to stop hoarding and increase store sales.

  38. HeavyMental says:

    that is sad !

  39. PBallRaven says:

    Sugar Ray Leonard smacked around a bottle of syrup? What those old boxers won’t do to make a comeback…

  40. Winteridge2 says:

    Like cold french fries and “tacos”, most folks today don’t know what real maple syrup tastes like.

  41. ReaperRob says:

    I’ve had real maple, I didn’t care for it. I’ll stick with cane syrup and honey. Especially Tupelo honey.