Contrary to popular belief you can grow sugar cane outside the tropics. In fact, the south has the perfect climate.
"It's a lost art. It is easy to do but you really have to know what you're doing."
Joe Todd grew up making cane syrup. But when he retired in 1997, it became a career.
"I found out no one was making syrup. I knew I could make syrup so we set out to grow cane and make syrup for our neighbors. I took an old piece of barn tin with a paintbrush and it was the ugliest sign you ever saw. Cane syrup in half a mile and drew an arrow and nailed it up on Cottonwood Rd. in three days we didn't have any syrup so we started planting more and it started growing and growing and it's just really exploded."
Todd's cane syrup is unique though and that's thanks to Joe's expertise.
"I've taught maybe 40 different people to make syrup but the one thing I'm very careful not to teach them is the right time to harvest their crop. One of the real keys to a real mellow cane syrup is to know when to cut that variety of cane and bring it to the mill. So that's part of the real art of syrup making."
Todd says you can't compare his cane syrup to processed food you can find in the grocery store.
"So its a very long lasting quality product that will keep. For example in cooking it makes a much better product than granulated sugar
"It makes a better BBQ sauce, a better baked bean."
"I never thought I'd have anything that would outsell syrup. That's the best bbq sauce in the world."
That barbecue sauce sold with Todd's other syrup made treats have been tasted by many around the world.
He says he's had visitors from all 50 states and 12 countries.
With the family business' long-term success, Todd says they don't plan on stopping here.
"My son and grandson are going to carry it on, we've already got that into motion. We're going to build a retail store with a bakery in it where people can have waffles and pancakes with our syrup. Our children and grandchildren are coming back to carry on this tradition."
A tradition that's near and dear to his heart and stomach.
"BIscuits, you mix butter with the syrup and put it on there."
"It's not very pretty but it's the way to eat it."
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