I suppose the pun in the title of this post was bound to come up sooner or later but I would not have guessed that I would be using it in reference to Vermont. First:
...a merry band of professors from Vermont colleges — a geologist, a sensory scientist, a cultural anthropologist and a conservationist — think there’s much more to [syrup]. In an informal study, they hope to show that syrups vary by region, with nuances that could help small-scale producers use their locations like a brand.
“Small syrup makers are still competing with Aunt Jemima,” said Amy Trubek, an anthropologist and assistant professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont who is coordinating the project. “Like Burgundy wines or Savoie cheeses, the terroir of maple syrups matters.”
This may be what happens when they let UVM professors read Wine Spectator, but I'm not sure it is good for syrup producers. Vermont, itself, is a strong brand in the specialty food market. The state, I believe, has a full-time employee whose job it is to monitor unauthorized uses of "Vermont." "Vermont Maple Syrup" already is a premium brand. To suggest that "small syrup makers are competing with Aunt Jemima" is preposterous, as a trip to the supermarket will confirm. Vermont syrup makers are competing with producers from Canada and New York. Quite literally Balkanizing the VT syrup brand seems like a bad idea. Also, we ran through this question with ryes a few weeks ago, but my guess is that terroir matters less for a product that undergoes such a radical transformation from raw produce to final form.
In other VT food news, the reborn Farmers Diner is expanding its "food from here" concept to embrace booze, under the rubric of "hooch from here." In the case of local beers, that's a promise; for local wines, perhaps more of a threat.