Here’s How This Entrepreneur Built His Own Maple Syrup Business

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.”

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?

JOSHUA: Seventeen.

GLENN: Seventeen.

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.

GLENN: Unbelievable.

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.

(laughter)

Yeah.

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.

STU: Wow.

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.

ALEE: Right.

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.

GLENN: Right.

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.

GLENN: Yeah.

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?

STU: ParkersMaple.com.

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.

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

RELATED: MEDIA BIGOTRY: The New Yorker hates on Chick-fil-A over 'pervasive Christian traditionalism'

Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

RELATED: Time to reverse course: America is being corrupted by its own power

Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

RELATED: Media's anti-Israel, pro-Islam bias sweeps THIS fact under the rug

In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?