Joshua Parker started his own venture at age 11 after learning how to make maple syrup on a school field trip. A few years later, he asked his dad to co-sign a loan so he could launch the business for real – and Parker’s Maple was born.
A family business, Parker’s Maple is run by Joshua Parker and his wife, Alessandra Parker. Their maple syrup, maple cotton candy, and maple butter are marketed as a healthier, vegan alternative sweetener as well as an all-American treat made in the U.S.
“They call it a superfood,” Joshua Parker explained why the timing was right for maple. “All of a sudden there were these health articles coming out saying that real maple is good for you, and it’s actually, if you’re going to eat sugar, you should eat maple. … We have the right products at the right time.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
STU: So a few years ago, we had a kid. Joshua Parker who came into the studios back when we were in New York. And he actually started his own company.
GLENN: Joshua, how old were you when you were on the show with us?
You started your company in — at 11.
JOSHUA: Yes. Eleven.
So I started making maple syrup when I was 11, on a school field trip. I went home and bought my own stove. And then actually my grandparents bought me a small evaporator to put in my backyard. And when I was 15, I was like, this is something I can do. If I do it well enough, I want to do it at college. Dad, will you help me?
STU: Good inspiration there.
JOSHUA: And so he said, if the bank is crazy enough to co-sign on a loan, I’ll do it — or, give us a loan, I’ll co-sign on it. So we went to a bank. The bank said yes. And we went into business there.
STU: He’s really the crazy one there. He’s co-signing.
GLENN: How great is it to have a dad like that?
STU: It’s awesome.
JOSHUA: It really is. None of this would have been possible without him. So having a dad like that has been amazing.
GLENN: Okay. So you — you started making real maple syrup. And this is no joke. My son drinks it straight from the bottle. He really does. We get your syrup. When we get it, we can’t — we have to hide it. I swear to you. He’s 13, and he sees your syrup, and he’s like, oh, my gosh. No, Raphe. No. Those are for pancakes.
STU: That’s you.
GLENN: So, anyway, he’s your biggest fan. He’s your biggest fan.
So you started making the maple syrup. And it went really well. And what’s happened since?
JOSHUA: So after I first got that first loan and went into business, I had my first year of making a lot of syrup. And Upstate, New York — I’m from way up by the Canadian border, where it’s maple country.
And in June of 2015, I was actually on the show with you. And so that was really our first big thing, where we all of a sudden got a whole bunch of online orders. And we started to kind of be substantiated as a real national brand.
And so after that, by the end of that year, we’re in 500 stores.
JOSHUA: And so we had grown. And last fall, we went on the show Shark Tank. And there’s no deal. And that was okay.
But this year, we’ve expanded. We’ve come out with an organic maple cotton candy, a maple butter, which is a delicious spread. And, of course, the maple syrup.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. Will you please introduce your wife? She’s sitting here. Please introduce your wife.
JOSHUA: Yes, yes. So this is my wife, Alee Parker. We got married in January of this year.
GLENN: How old are you?
JOSHUA: I’m 19. And she’s 21.
GLENN: You’re breaking every rule. This is so great.
STU: Making everyone in the audience feel like failures. I know I do.
GLENN: I know. We do secretly hate you.
STU: Yes. But you brought us cotton candy. So we’ll let you in anyway.
And now you’re the chief marketing officer for the company?
ALEE: I am. Yes.
GLENN: How did you guys meet?
ALEE: So we actually met at CPAC. I was working for the Ted Cruz campaign.
JOSHUA: But it’s just amazing because we really believe — have kind of bonded over the fact that business is a — the most powerful platform for ministry. And so we can take these products that God has given us and bring it to the rest of America in new delicious ways. And really be able to — to change people’s lives through business. And so I’m working together this year. We’ve launched into two regions of Costco, two regions of Whole Foods, Wegmans, and a handful of other retailers. You know, God has just been very, very good to us this year. And it’s been an amazing journey.
GLENN: So you’re in Wegmans, and who else?
JOSHUA: Costco. Whole Foods. And a few others.
GLENN: Costco. Whole foods too. Wow.
STU: This is about to be in my mouth as well.
GLENN: Yeah. I know. Parkers’ maple cotton candy. There’s two quotes on here, which I think are great. One hundred fourteen servings — calories per serving. The biggest serving of the best-tasting 114 calories ever. Mark Cuban said that.
GLENN: And then there’s another quote, underneath your signature and your little face.
Let’s see. When I first produced my first bottle of Parker’s 100 percent real maple syrup as an 11-year-old in 2009, I saw the day when it could cover the earth.
Okay. Just most pancakes and waffles in America. Parker’s real maple butter and real maple cotton candy soon followed. And I knew it had to be shared. Made from real cane sugar. Real maple sugar. Hope you enjoy the delicious smooth, not too sweet, 100 percent maple cotton candy. Your taste buds will never forget.
Then you sign it. And underneath, it says John 15:5. What is John 15:5?
JOSHUA: Yes. It says I’m the branches — I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.
So it’s just — it’s something that when I was 1515 and designed our first package, it was something I put on there. And it was — it was just — to me, it was like, this company, there’s no reason for my dad to say yes. There’s no reason for the bank to say yes. There’s no reason for all the people who helped along the way to say yes. And every night, it was just me praying, you know, God, please. Please open this door. I’ll do everything I can to make this happen.
And he did. And it was just — it truly showed that when you are willing to work hard, but also put praying and faith first, there’s nothing that God won’t open or make happen for you. So…
STU: That’s great. You see capitalism be vilified so often. And then you hear things like that. And also you eat things like cotton candy.
GLENN: This is really good.
STU: Oh, my God. I’ve never had anything like that before.
GLENN: You realize when you’re my age, you’re going to be fat like me. Because there’s absolutely no way — I used to be skinny like you. I could eat anything. Not anymore.
STU: And I was really impressed with Alee when I first started this. Because she’s chief marketing officer — marketing, this has got to be the easiest job in the world.
ALEE: It is. It is.
STU: Made out of maple syrup. It’s really delicious. It has that maple taste.
GLENN: It’s really good.
STU: What is it like trying to grow a company like this? I’m always fascinated by these stories. I’m addicted to that podcast, How I Built That? Have you guys listened to that?
JOSHUA: Yes. Yes, I have.
STU: It seems like you should be on it. But just going through and taking it from, hey, I went on a school trip and got maple syrup and figured out how to make it, to get to Wegmans and Costco, what is that process like? And make the answer long so I can eat this.
ALEE: Well, a lot of it is just getting the word out, where we exist. There’s so many maple companies already on the market. And what we’re trying to do is reinvent the maple industry. We’re taking products like maple syrup, and we’re making it into maple butter, maple cotton candy.
GLENN: Is maple — excuse my ignorance. Is maple big around the rest of the world?
JOSHUA: So not around the rest of the world. But the northeast is definitely the wheelhouse of it. And then the rest of the country is beginning to hop on board.
ALEE: And so there’s actually a study done by the University of Rhode Island that said that maple is high in antioxidants, has a low glycemic index than most honeys. And they called it a super food. And so we just kind of hit it where I had a passion for real maple. All of a sudden, there’s these health articles coming out saying that real maple is good for you. And it’s actually — you know, if you’re going to eat sugar, you should eat maple. And so we kind of hit that curve, right at the right time. And we have the right products at the right time. So we’ve been able to get traction through that. As you said, capitalism is vilified so much. When you look at companies, even some of the ones that you just talked about, that are really good. I mean, Chick-fil-A.
JOSHUA: I think that we do a good job of this. I think that there — like Nature Nate’s Honey in Dallas, puts God first. There’s a whole list of companies that really do take capitalism and the free market and turn it into something good and benefit people’s lives. So that’s what —
GLENN: That’s what capitalism was supposed to be.
STU: And it is, in a lot of ways.
GLENN: It’s supposed to be serving people.
STU: Yeah. You know what I want to do, is I want to take a big handful of this. I want to put it in pancake batter and then make the pancakes with it inside. Have you done this yet?
JOSHUA: I have not tried that yet.
GLENN: He’s a food scientist. He’ll make you look like a rookie. Thank you so much. Thanks for coming in.
JOSHUA: Yes. Thank you so much.
GLENN: Okay. So if you don’t — give a website for people who don’t have it in the grocery store.
JOSHUA: It’s ParkersMaple.com. ParkersMaple.com. And, again, it’s in Costco and Wegmans and Whole Foods.
GLENN: It’s so good to meet you guys. Keep breaking all of the rules.
JOSHUA: Really, I mean, we are married young. So there’s hope for millennials. We’re really trying to grow this company and work hard to do it. And really, there’s hope for America.
GLENN: There is.
JOSHUA: You know, we think if we can inspire other young entrepreneurs and people who maybe don’t have what my dad was to me, I think that we can, you know, help the next generation really pursue free markets and free people. So…
GLENN: If my son turns out to be half as focused as you are, I will have done a great job. Your father did amazing — amazing work. Thank you, both for coming in.
JOSHUA: Thank you.
STU: It is ParkersMaple.com. Josh is on Twitter as well. Josh C. Parker. And @ParkersMaple. Get this food and put it in your mouth. It’s very good.
GLENN: Really good.
STU: It’s my commercial.
GLENN: So good. My son drinks it right out of the bottle.
STU: He is turning out the same way. Round about way. Maybe he’s just trying to fulfill that —
GLENN: What I was drinking right out of the bottle was not from a tree. Was not from a tree.
GLENN: I absolutely love those guys. I mean, Joshua has been on the program before. And please go to — what was their website?
GLENN: ParkersMaple.com. Go there. Really, their maple syrup is unbelievable. It’s just unbelievable. And it’s all pure and organic and everything else.
This cotton candy is — I don’t even — I guess you can just order it online, if you don’t have a Wegmans. Well, Costco has it. So you’d have a Costco.
STU: I never had anything like that.
GLENN: It’s weird. This cotton candy thing is catching on. Remember when we had a Christmas party or something, and a woman was making specialty cotton candy, remember? By our house. It was a friend of a friend. And she makes this cotton candy in all different flavors. So it’s starting to catch on. This is the first time I’ve ever had cotton candy maple syrup. And it’s really good. It’s really good.
But I just love their story. I love their spirit. And, you know, why boycott when you can do something great and just help them out? ParkersMaple.com.