McDonald’s Begins Offering Real Maple Product, But Only In Vermont

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(Host) McDonald’s patrons in Vermont are getting a taste of maple beginning today.

The fast food chain has agreed to abide by the state’s strict law requiring that any products claiming to contain "maple" use the real stuff — not cheaper imitation flavoring. 

A lot of hungry customers tested the agreement, as VPR’s Charlotte Albright reports.

(Albright) Only McDonald’s restaurants in Vermont had to provide the real maple when customers requested it.

(Albright) "Hi, could I have some oatmeal please, and I’ve heard somewhere that I could get some maple syrup, as of today?"

(Albright) Without comment, the server handed over the usual steaming paper cup of oatmeal topped with raisins and apple chunks. At the bottom of the bag there was something new – a tiny packet of maple sugar-not syrup.

McDonald’s didn’t want any reporters or tape recorders in the restaurant. But nearby, Cathy Nash ate her oatmeal in her car, with a baby in the back seat. Nash is a regular here.

(Nash) "I asked for the real maple syrup …"

(Albright)  But she didn’t get it, either.

(Nash) "It was a powder."

(Albright) "Did that disappoint you, did you want the real syrup?"

(Nash) "Ah, I thought it might be a little container of syrup. So I was like oh, um, we’ll see what it tastes like and I stirred it in. It was really awesome."

(Albright) But not everyone cared all that much what came with the oatmeal, as long as it was hot and sweet.

Frances Brooks chatted outside Nash’s open car window on this five-degree day. He lives next door and he says he often orders the oatmeal and asks for a little cup of syrup, even though he knows that unlike the sugar, the syrup is not made from real maple, and certainly does not come from Vermont.

(Brooks) "I eat anything. I do, I eat anything."

(Albright) Except the apple chunks. He says he takes those out because he says he doesn’t have all the teeth he needs to chew them. 

But the oatmeal-with or without the extras – gets his day off to a great start.

That would please the man who owns this franchise along with three others in the state. Jim Bartley says he’s proud of McDonald’s for switching, at least in Vermont, to local maple sugar.

The only problem, Bartley says, is that he, and not the corporation, has to foot that bill for the real maple.  He won’t say how hard that hits his bottom line.

For VPR News, I’m Charlotte Albright, in Lyndonville.

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