What’s on your pancakes?

Pancakes always remind me of Saturday mornings when I was younger. My dad used to make us pancakes or waffles sometimes for breakfast and my brother and I would watch Saturday morning cartoons. They were also the breakfast favorite when I went over to a friend’s house for a sleepover, after a long night of painting our toenails, watching movies, and talking about who knows what. My favorite pancake toppings were peanut butter and pancake syrup—nothing was better. Now, as I learn more about nutrition and the food industry, pancake syrup has become one of my biggest food pet peeves. Although I still love cooking pancakes on Saturday mornings for my boyfriend and I, there is no longer any pancake syrup at the table, that’s for sure.

Why is pancake syrup one of my food pet peeves? Think first about its name– pancake syrup. Most pancake syrups contain no maple syrup whatsoever. What happened to good old-fashioned maple syrup? I know, it’s expensive, but here is a list of ingredients from a popular brand of pancake syrup:

CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), ARTIFICIAL AND NATURAL FLAVORS, SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE.

Hexameta-what? Looks to me like you’re actually buying maple-flavored corn syrup. The ingredient in 100% pure maple syrup is simple, because there is only one ingredient: 100% pure maple syrup.

Ok, so maybe you’re willing to put maple-flavored corn syrup with who-knows-what other-flavors-and-additives on your pancakes because it’s cheaper and you don’t believe in the claims about genetically-modified corn or caramel coloring or food additives, but what about the nutrition?

When I say “nutrition”, I mean the actual nutrients/vitamins/health benefits you are getting from that food. Here are the differences between pancake syrup and maple syrup:


There is a slight difference in calories, but also take a look at the sodium and carbohydrates (where are the extra carbs coming from in pancake syrup? Processed corn!). Skip down to the vitamins and you’ll notice maple syrup has iron and calcium, whereas pancake syrup really has no nutritional value.

Maple syrup also has a much stronger maple flavor (obviously) than pancake syrup, so you usually will end up using less on your pancakes, which lowers the amount of calories and sugar you’re consuming. However, if you do want a lower calorie pancake breakfast and don’t like maple syrup, try topping your pancakes with honey greek yogurt (or your favorite kind) with fresh or frozen sliced berries of your choice.

My favorite choice of maple syrup? Coombs Family Farms Organic 100% Pure Maple Syrup. It’s my new favorite ingredient!

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3 responses

  1. Amazing – and what really surprised me was the 120 mg of sodium in “pancake syrup” compared to only 7 mg in real maple syrup. If I still had kids at home to make pancakes for, it would be an easy decision to go with the good stuff. Thanks for this!

  2. Pingback: Recipe of the Week – Maple Salmon Sandwiches | Eat. Learn. Thrive.

  3. Mm, my favorite pancake topping is natural peanut butter and maple syrup. In the past I’ve used flavored agave syrup, but of course now it’s discovered to be worse than HFCS. *sigh* My daughter likes peanut butter and honey, and I’ve also used applesauce or apple butter.

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