maple sugar and maple taffy

Bronte Creek’s maple candy wars

Today’s blog post was written by Jessica Stillman, Discovery Program project coordinator and maple syrup aficionado at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Maple season is upon us!

Trees have been tapped, sap is boiling, and Bronte Creek’s annual Maple Syrup Festival is underway, which means the biggest annual debate has also begun…

…which is the better form of maple candy: taffy or sugar?

During the Maple Syrup Festival, we produce thousands of pieces of sugar and taffy for visitors to enjoy. Staff are so happy to witness the excitement, nostalgia, and bliss washing across a visitor’s face as they sample our hard work.

maple sugar and maple taffy
Maple sugar and maple taffy ready to be tasted!

As a staff member, each year we’re inevitably asked, “Which is better, maple sugar or maple taffy?”

With this simple question, the maple candy wars begin!

Separated by a farm yard, Bronte Creek’s Sugar Squad and Taffy Team work hard every day of the festival to ensure their maple treats reign supreme.

They’ll wow you with their production skills, amaze you with their exceptional maple flavours, and vie for your love of their sugary treats.

So maple lovers, I ask you: which is better, maple taffy or maple sugar?

Maple taffy vs maple sugar

Maple taffy and maple sugar start off the same, as 100% maple syrup, nothing added (ever)!

For both taffy and sugar, the syrup is heated to evaporate the remaining water, leaving you with a hot bubbly liquid that contains around 99% sugar.

Maple syrup being boiled
Maple syrup being boiled further to evaporate the remaining water off and leave behind the sugars

Each treat has its own unique qualities and production process. Bronte Creek’s maple staff are trained to bring you the best of each!

The taffy

When making taffy, the hot sugary liquid is poured onto something cold (like snow or ice) to cool the liquid quickly. This rapid cooling of the sugar doesn’t allow time for it to form into sugar crystals which creates the sticky, stringy taffy form.

Bronte’s maple taffy team pours the hot sugar-syrup onto ice blocks and uses a popsicle stick to quickly gather up the cooled taffy for you to enjoy.

Maple taffy on ice

Maple taffy is chewy, but soft, resembling a caramel or butterscotch in consistency. But in flavor, it is 100% maple goodness!

When you get sticky strings of this sweet treat stuck across your face, friends, and sometimes even your dog, it’s hard not to have a huge maple smile.

Child eating taffy

The candy

Maple candy is boiled to the same temperature or soft ball candy stage as taffy, but instead of cooling it quickly, we want the maple sugar to slowly cool and form sugar crystals.

Maple sugar being spread across a silicone mat
Maple sugar being spread across a silicone mat to shape the Maple Candies into maple leaves

You’ll see the Sugar Squad watching the large pots of syrup on the wood-fired stove – waiting for it to look and smell right.

Each pot is taken off the heat and stirred. It can take five to eight minutes of stirring before the dark brown liquid starts to thicken and the squad will feel sand-like grit start to form at the bottom of the pot. That’s how we know it’s time to pour the sugar onto a silicone mat.

Once it has been poured, it’s a race to spread the pudding-like liquid out to fill the holes before it hardens completely.

After a bit more cooling, we can pop out the individual cubes of sugar!

Maple sugar has a completely different consistency to maple taffy, even though their origins are the same. The sugar grains in each candy piece melt as they touch your tongue, coating your mouth in a sweet symphony of smoky, maple bliss.

Maple candy on a plate

So, are you Team Taffy or Team Sugar?

Come try both during Bronte Creek’s annual Maple Syrup Festival!

The festival is open March 2-3, 9-17, 23-24, and 30-31.

Activities include tours of Maple Lane to see how syrup has been produced throughout history and our Victorian Farmhouse restored to the way it looked in 1899!

Not to mention wagon rides, pancake meals, historical games, and our maple shows, including songs and stories about maple syrup.

And of course, there are maple taffy, maple sugar, maple syrup samples, and souvenirs galore!

You didn’t think we’d get your taste buds going without having lots of sweet treats ready for you to sample, did you?

People in Victorian costume standing in front of a "Bronte Creek" sign

Check out our website for more information!

Let us know which maple sugar treat is your favourite by tagging us in your maple memories using @OPBronteCreek and @OntarioParks.

Or let our staff know how awesome of a job they are doing making your maple moments happen!