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.

Stop trying to be right and think of the children

Mario Tama/Getty Images

All the outrage this week has mainly focused on one thing: the evil Trump administration and its minions who delight in taking children from their illegal immigrant parents and throwing them all in dungeons. Separate dungeons, mind you.

That makes for a nice, easy storyline, but the reality is less convenient. Most Americans seem to agree that separating children from their parents — even if their parents entered the US illegally — is a bad thing. But what if that mom and dad you're trying to keep the kids with aren't really the kids' parents? Believe it or not, fraud happens.

RELATED: Where were Rachel Maddow's tears for immigrant children in 2014?

While there are plenty of heartbreaking stories of parents simply seeking a chance for a better life for their children in the US, there are also corrupt, abusive human traffickers who profit from the illegal immigration trade. And sorting all of this out is no easy task.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security said that since October 2017, more than 300 children have arrived at the border with adults claiming to be their parents who turned out not to be relatives. 90 of these fraud cases came from the Rio Grande Valley sector alone.

In 2017, DHS reported 46 causes of fraudulent family claims. But there have already been 191 fraud cases in 2018.

Shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

When Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pointed out this 315 percent increase, the New York Times was quick to give these family fraud cases "context" by noting they make up less than one percent of the total number of illegal immigrant families apprehended at the southern border. Their implication was that Nielsen was exaggerating the numbers. Even if the number of fraud cases at the border was only 0.001 percent, shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

This is the most infuriating part of this whole conversation this week (if you can call it a "conversation") — that both sides have an angle to defend. And while everyone's busy yelling and making their case, children are being abused.

What if we just tried, for two seconds, to love having mercy more than we love having to be right all the time?

Remember when cartoons were happy things? Each panel took you on a tiny journey, carrying you to an unexplored place. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud writes:

The comics creator asks us to join in a silent dance of the seen and the unseen. The visible and the invisible. This dance is unique to comics. No other artform gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well. This is why I think it's a mistake to see comics as a mere hybrid of the graphic arts and prose fiction. What happens between . . . panels is a kind of magic only comics can create.

When that magic is manipulated or politicized, it often devolves the artform into a baseless thing. Yesterday, Occupy Wall Street published the perfect example of low-brow deviation of the artform: A six-panel approach at satire, which imitates the instructions-panel found in the netted cubbyhole behind seats on airplanes. The cartoon is a critique of the recent news about immigrant children being separated from their parents after crossing the border. It is a step-by-step guide to murdering US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.

RELATED: Cultural appropriation has jumped the shark, and everyone is noticing

The first panel shows a man shoving an infant into a cage meant for Pomeranians. The following five panels feature instructions, and include pictures of a cartoonish murder.

The panels read as follows:

  1. If an ICE agent tries to take your child at the border, don't panic.
  2. Pull your child away as quickly as possibly by force.
  3. Gently tell your child to close his/her eyes and ears so they won't witness what you are about to do.
  4. Grab the ICE agent from behind and push your knife into his chest with an upward thrust, causing the agent's sternum to break.
  5. Reach into his chest and pull out his still beating heart.
  6. Hold his bloody heart out for all other agents to see, and tell them that the same fate awaits them if they f--- with your child again.

Violent comics are nothing new. But most of the time, they remain in the realms of invented worlds — in other words, not in our own, with reference to actual people, let alone federal agents.

The mainstream media made a game of crying racism with every cartoon depiction of Obama during his presidency, as well as during his tenure as Senator, when the New Yorker, of all things, faced scrutiny for depicting him in "Muslim clothing." Life was a minefield for political cartoonists during the Obama era.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

This year, we saw the leftist outrage regarding The Simpsons character Apu — a cartoon representation of a highly-respected, though cartoonishly-depicted, character on a cartoon show composed of cartoonishly-depicted characters.

We all remember Charlie Hebdo, which, like many outlets that have used cartoon satire to criticize Islam, faced the wrath and ire of people unable to see even the tamest representation of the prophet, Muhammad.

Interesting, isn't it? Occupy Wall Street publishes a cartoon that advocates murdering federal agents, and critics are told to lighten up. Meanwhile, the merest depiction of Muhammad has resulted in riots throughout the world, murder and terror on an unprecedented scale.

The intersection of Islam and comics is complex enough to have its own three-hour show, so we'll leave it at that, for now. Although, it is worth mentioning the commentary by satirical website The Onion, which featured a highly offensive cartoon of all the major religious figures except Muhammad. It noted:

Following the publication of the image above, in which the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened.

Of course, Occupy Wall Street is free to publish any cartoon they like. Freedom of speech, and so on—although there have been several instances in which violent cartoons were ruled to have violated the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" limitation of the First Amendment.

Posting it to Twitter is another issue — this is surely in violation of Twitter's violent content policy, but something tells me nothing will come of it. It's a funny world, isn't it? A screenshot of a receipt from Chick-fil-A causes outrage but a cartoon advocating murder gets crickets.

RELATED: Twitter mob goes ballistic over Father's Day photo of Caitlyn Jenner. Who cares?

In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud concludes that, "Today the possibilities for comics are — as they've always been — endless. Comics offers . . . range and versatility, with all the potential imagery of film and painting plus the intimacy of the written word. And all that's needed is the desire to be heard, the will to learn, and the ability to see."

Smile, and keep moving forward.

Crude and awful as the Occupy Wall Street comic is, the best thing we can do is nod and look elsewhere for the art that will open our eyes. Let the lunatics draw what they want, let them stew in their own flawed double standards. Otherwise, we're as shallow and empty as they are, and nothing good comes of that. Smile, and keep moving forward.

Things are getting better. Show the world how to hear, how to learn, how to see.

People should start listening to Nikki Haley

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Okay. Let's take a vote. You know, an objective, quantifiable count. How many resolutions has the UN Human Rights Council adopted condemning dictatorships? Easy. Well. How do you define "dictatorship"?

Well, one metric is the UN Human Rights Council Condemnation. How many have the United Nations issued to China, with a body count higher than a professional Call of Duty player?

Zero.

How about Venezuela, where socialism is devouring its own in the cruelest, most unsettling ways imaginable?

Zero.

And Russia, home of unsettling cruelty and rampant censorship, murder and (actual) homophobia?

Zero.

Iraq? Zero. Turkey? Iraq? Zero. Cuba? Zero. Pakistan? Zero.

RELATED: Nikki Haley just dropped some serious verbal bombs on Russia at the UN

According to UN Human Rights Council Condemnations, 2006-2016, none of these nations is as dangerous as we'd imagined. Or, rather, none of them faced a single condemnation. Meanwhile, one country in particular has faced unbelievable scrutiny and fury — you'll never guess which country.

No, it's not Somalia. It's Israel. With 68 UN Human Rights Council Condemnations! In fact, the number of total United Nations condemnations against Israel outnumbers the total of condemnations against all other countries combined. The only country that comes close is Syria, with 15.

The Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members.

In an address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Nikki Haley said:

Let's remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy. This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday... No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.

Maybe people should start listening to Haley. Hopefully, they will. Not likely, but there's no crime in remaining hopeful.

Here's a question unique to our times: "Should I tell my father 'Happy Father's Day,' even though he (she?) is now one of my mothers?"

Father's Day was four days ago, yes, but this story is just weird enough to report on. One enjoyable line to read was this gem from Hollywood Gossip: "Cait is a woman and a transgender icon, but she is also and will always be the father of her six children."

RELATED: If Bruce was never a he and always a she, who won the men's Olympic gold in 1976?

Imagine reading that to someone ten — even five — years ago. And, honestly, there's something nice about it. But the strangeness of its having ever been written overpowers any emotional impact it might bring.

"So lucky to have you," wrote Kylie Jenner, in the Instagram caption under pre-transition pictures of Bruce Jenner.

Look. I risk sounding like a tabloid by mere dint of having even mentioned this story, but the important element is the cultural sway that's occurring. The original story was that a band of disgruntled Twitter users got outraged about the supposed "transphobic" remarks by Jenner's daughter.

But, what we should be saying is, "who the hell cares?" Who cares what one Jenner says to another — and more importantly and on a far deeper level — who cares what some anonymous Twitter user has to say?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob? Because, at the moment, they've got it pretty good. They have a nifty relationship with the mainstream media: One or two Twitter users get outraged by any given thing — in this case Jenner and supposed transphobia. In return, the mainstream media use the Twitter comment as a source.

Then, a larger Twitter audience points to the article itself as proof that there's some kind of systemic justice at play. It's a closed-market currency, where the negative feedback loop of proof and evidence is composed of faulty accusations. Isn't it a hell of a time to be alive?