The Trouble With Charging More for Maple
This one comes to me from the trenches. In this day and age that means Twitter.
So this past weekend there was a rising tide of complaints about incremental upcharges for real maple syrup on restaurant menus. And people were turning to me for support. But here’s the funny thing. I love to see real maple syrup on the menu, and I’m almost always happy to pay for it.
Fake maple syrup is generally nasty and vile stuff. Some is simply high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, thickeners, preservatives, and coloring agents. Seriously, who really looks at a bottle of this stuff and says, “That sounds delicious, let me pour it all over my breakfast.”
I don’t. So when there is a better alternative, I’ll jump on it and be thankful that I can eat waffles the way God intended. And real maple syrup is crazy expensive. Putting it on the menu adds real costs to a restaurant.
But there is one critical reason why restaurants should not engage in charging more for the good stuff.
People. People are tricky. People will swear up and down that they can tell real maple syrup from the artificial impostors Blindly. And better than chance. But, I don’t think they can. Frankly, I’m concerned that I might not be able to do it either.
Yes, some fake maple syrups are really nasty. They are thick, gummy and overly sweet with no real maple flavor to them at all. But not all of them are. And since real maple syrup is an agricultural product, there is a tremendous amount of variation in it too. The higher grades have little maple flavor, and it’s possible for them to be thin and light.
The problem isn’t cost. The problem is trust. And on some level a commitment to quality.
One of the concerns I picked up from Twitter this past weekend was someone who paid for real maple but wasn’t convinced they actually received it. The funny thing is that I know this person has a palate. Which is not to say that I’m convinced the restaurant goer was correct. We spoke this weekend, and I learned that the offending syrup seemed too thin and watery to be the real thing.
Well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. Human error happens. But in a matter of blind taste it’s pretty difficult to tell for certain.
The decision to stock real maple syrup and only real maple syrup needs to be a part of a restaurant’s identity. I think places like The Flying Chicken, The City Beer Hall, and Jake Moon, restaurants that are built on the foundation of good, high quality food, with great ingredients, should fully commit to using 100% Grade B maple syrup.
Change the price on the menu if you must. We’ll forgive you. Bake in the extra buck into the cost of the dish, and eliminate any specter of doubt once and for all.
At a restaurant of any quality, there should be no room for imitation maple syrup within its walls.