top of page

History of Hickory Syrup


There is not a lot of information on how Hickory syrup came about so here is what we do know…


  The earliest record of man's use of this species of trees was recovered in strata dating from the Early Archaic.  Move forward to 1539 when Hernando De Soto discovered the Native Americans had vast stores of Hickory nut oil used both for cooking and medicinally.  Then in 1612 European explorers found the Indians making a drink called “pokahichary” used in rituals.  It was also noted for use for “gripes of the belly” while fresh had a pleasant taste but it would sour after 6 months.  The use of hickory nut oil is mentioned by Bossu (1771) who also observed that the Indians baked a type of pancake in nut oil.  And William Bartram (1792) reported “ancient cultivated fields” of hickory west of Augusta, Georgia.  Hickory bark is the highest plant source of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for staying healthy and is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium is a macro-mineral, which, unlike trace-minerals (e.g., iodine, copper, zinc, iron, etc.), is needed in large amounts by the body. Multiple health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

In addition to food uses, the Indians were known to make bows, baskets, snowshoe rims.  Native American tribes also used various hickories medicinally as cold remedies, dermatological aids, diuretics gast-intestinal aids and the list goes on.  During the Civil war the bark was used to make yellow, green and olive dyes, while the ashes were used to make lye for soap making.

     Now about syrup, we are not certain exactly when people started making syrup from hickory bark the earliest record we found was from 1882.  A man wanted to use a hickory extract to give to syrups and sugars the flavor of maple.  The effect of the extract was to give to the syrup the flavor of maple, producing a syrup, which cannot be distinguished from genuine maple syrup.  The high price of maple syrup, as well as its scarcity throughout the country, renders this improved syrup of great value, since a good substitute for maple-syrup is not produced, which comes within the reach of all.  So since the late 1800’s people have been making syrup from Hickory trees using different methods.

Here at Sutton Mill Creek Syrup Co. we strive to uphold this tradition by making our version of Hickory syrup for all to enjoy!   Hickory Syrup is amber colored syrup with a smoky, nutty flavor, is less sweet then maple, more complex and unique.  So people don’t make Hickory syrup to taste like Maple syrup anymore. When I think of Hickory syrup I think of vanilla ice cream and pancakes but, people use it on all types of food it makes a wonderful addition to salmon and other meat glazes, all types of breakfast foods, BBQ, cocktails, baked goods, squash and apple pies, coffee.  Though we don’t limit ourselves to a particular hickory species, no trees are ever harmed when gathering the bark. We create a blend of our hickory barks, using re-purposed bark from dead hickory trees, and bark that has been collected from tree processing companies.

We hope you find our collections of fine syrups as delicious as we do!

Original Southern Hickory Syrup
bottom of page