The Northwest is beginning to stir, however. The Crescent Manufacturing Company changed the needle on the victrola when it demonstrated that Mapleine was desired by national retailers as soon as they learned of it through the national advertising campaigns started twelve years ago. In 1910 Mapleine advertisements appeared in Good Housekeeping, The Designer, Women’s Home Companion, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Ladies World. Carnation Milk used a loud toned needle, and became a national product about the same time.
— “Advertising Matters,” The Washington Newspaper, May 1923.
In Part 1 of our series about Mapleine, I gave you some of the background of the product and the Crescent Manufacturing Company’s battle with the US government over labeling. After they made a deal with the Feds that allowed them to keep using the name Mapleine, there was no holding them back. As the above quote indicates, they started advertising nationally, and Mapleine took off.
The first part of the 20th century saw two World Wars and a Great Depression. A product that allowed homemakers, campers, and all other maple fans to make syrup that tasted good but was much cheaper than true maple was perfect for the times, and Crescent made darned sure everyone knew it.
In the early 1910s Mapleine was promoted as “The Flavor De Luxe.” Ads, then and later, often featured recipes. Here’s a 1912 ad from Literary Digest with a simple recipe for cake filling.
Imitation flavorings tend to be frowned upon these days, or, at least, not respected very much. No one wants “chocolate-flavored” candy if they can have real chocolate instead. But there is one imitation flavor that is commonly eaten without complaint in the US and Canada — maple.
The “maple” syrup that most people have on their pancakes and waffles isn’t made of maple at all. (In the US, if the label calls it “maple syrup,” it’s supposed to be 100% pure maple. But the majority of syrup sold in grocery stores is plain old “pancake syrup,” and that’s the artificial stuff.) It tastes reasonably similar to maple syrup, and it’s fine for what it is, but it’s still an imitation. Most grocery store pancake syrups, as you can see here on the Aunt Jemima website, are corn syrup with added colorings, preservatives, and natural and artificial flavorings.
Throughout the 20th century, however, many homemakers made a much simpler artificial maple syrup with only three ingredients: granulated sugar, water, and the flavor extract Mapleine.
Mapleine was (and is) a product of the Crescent Manufacturing Company in my hometown of Seattle, Washington. In 1905, a Crescent chemist invented Mapleine, “a wholesome, vegetable extract, made from roots and herbs” (according to a 1906 ad in The Pacific Monthly, pictured on the right). The formula has always been secret, but a modern Mapleine package lists the following ingredients: “Water, natural flavorings, caramel color, alcohol (7%), phosphoric acid, vanillin, and sulfiting agents.”
In the product’s early years, Crescent did not (perhaps) communicate quite as well as they could have that Mapleine was, in fact, not maple at all. For example, the package pictured in the Pacific Monthly ad features a large maple leaf in the design, and does not mention at all on the front that the flavor is not real maple. One of the earliest ads for Mapleine, from a 1905 issue of The Pacific Monthly, calls it “The new Maple Sap,” with no mention of its artificial nature.
The United States government took issue with Crescent’s packaging, and in 1909, the case of The United States of America vs. 300 Cases of “Mapleine” ended up in court. The government charged that the cases were illegally labeled “Crescent Mapleine” on the outside, and that those words would indicate that the product contained maple. Crescent contended that the labeling on the cartons and bottles inside the cases, which stated “Mapleine, a Vegetable Product Producing a Flavor Similar to Maple,” should be taken into consideration. (This defense of Mapleine from a local Seattle perspective, from a 1909 issue of The Coast, is interesting reading.)
A jury found Crescent guilty of misbranding, after which the company reached an agreement with the government that the name “Mapleine” could continue to be used, as long as all labeling was modified to plainly show that the product was an imitation maple flavor. The modifications were made, and Mapleine stayed on the market.
This 1908 ad, published during the same month in which those 300 cases of Mapleine were seized in Chicago on the charge of misbranding, shows that Crescent was already taking pains to clearly label the bottles and ads. The ad leads with the not particularly enticing paragraph “Mapleine has nothing to do with maple syrup—except the flavor. Neither is it a substitute or even an imitation of maple syrup but an original flavoring with the Genuine Maple Flavor.” The bottle pictured now contains a clear disclaimer.
In the next few decades, wartime and depression frugality—along with a lot of advertising and recipe booklets from Crescent—caused Mapleine to grow even more popular. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll post advertising and recipes from Mapleine’s heyday; in Part 3, I’ll make a Mapleine Pie.
*(Editorial note added after this post was published.) On further examination of the picture, it seems possible that the “Seattle, Wash.” lettering on the booth was added to the photo after retouching. However, I cannot be certain of this. The University of Washington has a photo of the same booth, but not only has that area of the booth been clearly retouched in the UW copy, but there are some other small differences that make it seem likely the photos were taken at different times, so the UW photo does not necessarily confirm anything.
The Gold-N-Sno cake seems to have been a cake that was mostly made by bakeries, not by home bakers. When bakeries advertised the Gold-N-Sno cake, they frequentlylisted another cake that caught my eye as well… a Malted Milk Cake. I love the flavor of chocolate malted milk. Chocolate malts, Maltesers (Whoppers may substitute in a pinch, but Maltesers are so much better), whatever. I love it. And it’s a flavor that can be hard to find sometimes.
I went looking for a malted milk cake recipe, and soon found a recipe at The Old Foodie, who says it’s from an American newspaper article in 1937.
Chocolate Malted Milk Cake.
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 cup chocolate malted milk [powder]
3 teaspoons tartrate baking powder OR:
2 ¼ teaspoons double-action baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup soft shortening
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
½ cup evaporated milk
½ cup water.
Light oven and set at moderate (350F) temperature. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Sift before measuring the cake flour and re-sift with the chocolate malted milk, baking powder and salt. Cream together until light and fluffy the shortening and sugar. Beat in vigorously the egg and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture alternately with the evaporated milk diluted with water. Begin and end with the flour mixture, beating until smooth after each addition. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes in moderate oven (350F) or until cakes shrink from the sides of pans. When cool, put together with;
Chocolate Malted Milk Topping.
1 ½ teaspoons plain gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup evaporated milk
6 tablespoons chocolate malted milk [powder]
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
Soak the gelatin in the cold water for five minutes. Scald [the evaporated milk] over boiling water. Add soaked gelatin and stir until dissolved. Pour into bowl or freezing tray of mechanical refrigerator and chill until icy cold. Whip until stiff with rotary beater or electric mixer at high speed. Fold in the malted milk and sugar. Spread between and on top of cake. Chill.
No problem. I figured I’d just run down to the store and get some chocolate malted milk.
Oops. That was harder than expected. Sometime in the last few years, most, if not all, of the grocery stores in Seattle that used to carry chocolate malted milk powder have stopped. Most of them still have the plain malted milk, but not the chocolate. The only store that carried it, as far as I could find, was the Amazon Fresh delivery service—but they didn’t serve our area at the time.
My friend Amie stepped in with an offer to order the malted milk from Amazon Fresh for me. With the chocolate malted milk finally at hand, I would have made the cake. By then, however, my kitchen was in a thousand pieces and in no condition for cake baking.
So here we are, nearly a year later, and the time has finally come for the malted milk cake. (And since then, Amazon Fresh has stopped carrying the malted milk as well! Good thing I saved it for this cake.) Stay tuned for the results of this experiment.
In the right menu of this page, you can see a list of some of the recipe ideas Kristen and I have been thinking about trying. On the top of the list is one that sounds wonderful: Malted Milk Cake. I am a huge fan of malt flavor, particularly chocolate malted milk, and I have a recipe all lined up for it.
But there’s a catch. I can’t find the chocolate malted milk anywhere in Seattle so far. I used to buy it occasionally at various local grocery stores, but now they only seem to carry the plain malt. Safeway and Albertson’s don’t even go that far. A search for “malted milk” on the Albertson’s website only brings up these.
The one grocery store that does have the product is Amazon Fresh. But they do not deliver to us. No one I know seems to use Amazon Fresh.
So alternatives must be found.
These are the alternatives I know of:
Ovaltine chocolate malt drink powder: I think this is probably too sweet and has too many extra ingredients, though maybe it would work
Milo chocolate malt drink powder: this should be available at Uwajimaya, I think, and might be similar, though I’ve never tried it
Making a homemade version from the plain Carnation Malted Milk
I’ve just done a little experimenting. The following recipe gives me a relatively decent chocolate malted milk mixture, not overly sweet. A bit more sugar could be added, I suppose, but I get the idea that the stuff was perhaps less sweet back in the day anyway:
2 parts Carnation Malted Milk (plain)
1 part unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 parts sugar