What’s In That? Food Additives in Aunt Jemima Syrup

Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth have been holding out on you. Sure, you have known these ladies since you watched Sesame Street from your high chair but the truth of the matter is that they have had a little work done over the years. A little pinch here and a little tuck there… While it never was real maple syrup, these ladies were once somewhat more pure than they are now.

Can’t we all say that?

And for a bit more trivia? Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth are both owned by Pinnacle Foods. They are sister wives so to speak.

Here is the ingredients list from the Aunt Jemima website. I could not find an ingredients list for Mrs.Butterworths but you can be pretty sure it is similar. As you can see there is very little syrup and lots of food additives to make it seem like syrup.


Corn syrup really isn’t so very awful except for the fact that most conventionally grown corn is produced from GMO (genetically modified) seeds. There are a lot of reasons not to trust GMOs but frankly, unless you are eating completely organic, you are eating products made from them.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is nasty stuff. If you want to believe that it does not affect your body any differently from sugar go right ahead. It is so much more highly refined than sugar it isn’t funny. It’s like saying that there is no difference between opium and poppy seeds on your breakfast bagel. Fructose and Sucrose are two different animals, and while sugar should be limited it will not do the bad things to your triglycerides that HFCS will. HFCS was introduced in the late 70s and *coincidentally* obesity levels, diabetes, and heart problems have increased during the same time period. Also, because of the way HFCS is processed 30% of  the products containing it test positive for mercury. Yummers. A pancake that can display your temperature.

I know that the Corn Refiner’s Association has told a different tale..and after all, why would they lie? It isn’t like they stand to make any money off HFCS or anything, is it?

I could wax poetic onthe dangers of  HFCS but I will just direct you to the following sites.

Life Extension

Mercurey in High Fructose Corn Syrup

Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup

Cellulose Gum – Made from very highly processes pulp from wood and other materials cellulose gum isn’t particularly bad for you. You will find it in many household ingredients including:

  • K-Y Jelly
  • Toothpaste
  • Laundry detergent
  • Water based paint
  • Textile sizing

It is used as a thickener, to give the syrup that thick viscosity that the Auntie and the Mrs. are so proud of.

Caramel Color – Nothing here to see… move along…wait… is that? Yep…. caramel color is most often made from corn syrup. Yay.

Sodium Benzoate has been a popular preservative for some time and is basically a type of salt. However, lately there have been some concerns that when it mixes with vitamin c a carcinogen (cancer causing substance) is created. This has been especially apparent in sodas. You are probably o.k. as long as you don’t drink orange juice with your waffles. It also has the irritating tendency to damage your mitrochondria- DNA. Read more at The Independent.

Sorbic Acid – made from a Mountain Ash tree or man made. Euell Gibbons would be proud. Sorbic acid has no known dangers, it just hangs with the wrong crowd.

Artificial and Natural flavorings – the stuff they use to make it taste like syrup rather than chemicals.

Sodium Hexametaphosphate – It is used to make soap, detergent, in water treatment, metal finishing and plating, paper manufacture, creating polymers, photographic products, scale removal, and syrup.

Of concern is the fact that it may cause respiratory tract irritation, increase asthma symptoms. Symptoms can include coughing and shortness of breath. Some people may be allergic to it and experience mild chest pain. It is also linked to pancreatic cancer if taken in continual doses. Like…several times a week on your pancakes? And what is a dose, anyway?

There you have it. Every time you pour syrup over your pancakes you are putting that stuff into your body. Every time. And the government doesn’t care. Obviously the manufacturers don’t care. Most people don’t seem to care. But now at least you know.

Of course, maple syrup is expensive. If your kids go through it like mine do you could find yourself out on the street before long. Never fear! I have a solution. It is healthy, it is pure, and it tastes yummy.

Would I lie? Heck no, I am not making a million bucks off of this stuff. I am not being courted by the big food corporations to tell you that everything is o.k. and HFCS is just peachy keen.

This homemade syrup is quick, it is easy, you can make it in bulk amounts and keep it in a Mason jar on your pantry shelf. Most recipes suggest that you keep it in the fridge. I have never had it go bad, I mean it is just sugar, right? But if you don’t go through it very fast you may want to keep it in the fridge.


Have I mentioned frugal?  I pay about 4.71  for 5 lbs of sugar, or 47 cents per cup and 11.99 for a 32 oz of pure organic maple syrup. I pay about 13. 87 per gallon of syrup by using the maple…however, if you are so inclined you can double the sugar/water and leave out the maple syrup entirely, flavoring it with maple flavoring to your taste. You will have a gallon of syrup that costs you about 7.52, not bad.

Most importantly it is delicious and you won’t get weird additives when you eat it. I usually make a half gallon at a time which might last a week or so around my house.

The texture is much more liquid that Mrs. Butterworths or Aunt Jemima. It is more the texture of the real maple syrup. Let me know what you think.

: Homemade Breakfast Syrup

: Just pure ingredients in this delicious, frugal homemade syrup

  • 4 c sugar
  • 1 c water
  • 1 quart real maple syrup
  • pinch Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp organic maple flavor if desired
  1. Bring sugar, water, and salt to a boil, stirring constantly
  2. Reduce heat
  3. Allow to simmer for 3 minutes
  4. Add syrup and simmer another minute or two
  5. Cool, add flavoring and pour into sterile jars
  6. Store, covered,on pantry shelf or in refrigerator

Preparation time: 2 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2 quarts

Meal type: breakfast

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

5 :  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)


Nutrition Information: 

serving size 1/4 c

Calories 201

Fat 0

Carbs 51.8

Fiber 0

Protein 0

Printable recipe

Image (c) marye audet 2011

Around the Internet…


  1. says

    “Nothing here to see… move along…wait… is that? Yep…. caramel color is most often made from corn syrup. Yay.”

    AH HA HA! You are funny. But, man food makers suck.

    For a looooooooooong time I always made homemade syrup. However, we almost never eat it, so now I just buy a little bottle of organic and it lasts and lasts. My homemade syrup is just plain old organic sugar, real maple and vanilla extract and water. Doesn’t it get expensive if you use 1 quart real maple syrup?

    • marye says

      Well… it isn’t cheaper that if you use flavoring but it is a great way to stretch maple syrup. I use flavoring when my budget is groaning.

  2. Shawn Sun says

    “While it never was real maple syrup, ”
    That’s what I wanted to find out. Thanks for your writing.
    Blessings. Shawn.

  3. says

    Interesting. I may have to try this, though we’ve moved toward using jelly and fruit/floral syrups for pancakes. Dandelion syrup was yummy!

  4. says

    Sounds yummy! Just make sure your sugar says it’s pure cane sugar, if it doesn’t say that it’s probably made from sugar beets which is unfortunately another item on the GMO list:-(

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>