They may be served on a bed of snow, but in Canada, maple taffies are one of the first signs of spring.

In New Brunswick in Canada, maple syrup is part of the local DNA. 

Indigenous people were the first to collect maple sap and boil it to create syrup. They showed the first French settlers who boiled it a little longer to create sugar slabs to be used at a later date. 

Now the province is the third largest producer of maple syrup in the world, making three million kilograms of the stuff every year.

Maple trees are tapped in late winter and early spring. The sap is collected in buckets and boiled into maple syrup.

And in March, producers invite everyone to their sugar shacks – often rustic cabins in the woods ­– to sample the syrup and celebrate the coming of spring.

Every New Brunswicker has their own favourite sugar cabin. They lie dotted across the province, each with their own specialities – and personality.

New Brunswickers will all agree on one thing though –sucking on their first maple taffy of spring is what they look forward to the most.

A sugar shack in New Brunswick (Adobe Stock)
Man pouring hot maple syrup on snow (Adobe Stock)

Maple taffies goes by many names: taffy on snow, snow candy, sugar on snow. French Canadians call it ‘Tire sur la Neige’. 

But making it is deceptively simple.

Maple syrup is boiled, poured over mounds of fresh snow and rolled onto sticks to make a chewy, irresistible candy. 

The cold snow not only stops the syrup from cooking, it cools it to the perfect consistency. Not too soft. Not too hard. Just the right level of chewiness.

Maple taffies are best enjoyed at a rustic sugar cabin, out in the woods, with snow still on the ground. 

Maple syrup is boiled over open fires in large cauldrons. Trays are set up amongst the maple trees and lined with fresh snow. 

When the syrup is onto the ice poured in thin lines, eager New Brunswickers dive in wielding small wooden sticks. With a flick of the wrist, the stiffening syrup is twirled onto the end of the stick and into a deliciously sticky blob.

Hand picking maple sugar on snow (Adobe Stock)

Inside the shacks, other maple syrup treats are on offer.

There are pancakes, of course. And maple sugar pies and maple cured hams. There are maple syrup omlettes and even maple syrup cocktails.

The star of the show remains the taffy. And not just because of its irresistible chewy sweetness.

Standing in the snow beside a wooden shack, breathing in the aroma of wood fires and toffee, laughing and joking with your fellow New Brunswickers has become the first rite of spring in this part of Canada.

And one that you’ll be more than happy to take part in.

To find out more about maple taffies and sugar shacks in New Brunswick, visit

Main image: Close up of a man making maple taffy in New Brunswick (© Adobe Stock)