A number of years ago, before we began to make the syrup, my daughters asked me what our last name meant. I did a little research and discovered that our name traces back to 1400’s England where it was spelled ‘Hoit’ and meant “tall, skinny stick.” It was used to describe the men of our ancestors at the time who were tall and skinny. Over the years the name changed shape, and today our last name is spelled ‘Hoyt.’
Shortly after we started making syrup, I asked my girls what we should call our business. One of them suggested “Skinny Sticks,” and that name just stuck. It seems like an appropriate name for a business that utilizes the sap from tall, skinny trees (sticks of wood).
How We Got Started
Our maple syrup story begins back in 2011. I was attending a trade show for work when a man came up to me and asked if I would like to taste something unique. I walked over to his booth, and he pulled out a bottle of wine. He poured me a small cupful, and it tasted wonderful. He made the wine himself out of maple syrup. I was impressed.
I began thinking to myself . . . . I have some maple trees in my back yard . . . . I could make this too. So the next spring I made 25 gallons of maple wine. I had enough sap left over to also produce 6 quarts of syrup that year. From that time on, I was hooked. Our business has been steadily growing since that day, and I plan to expand again in the coming year.
How We Make Our Syrup
My family and I start out by marking the trees in the fall of the year so that we know which ones are maples. We tap the hard and the soft maples together, which makes a beautifully tasting syrup with several layers of flavor.
When spring arrives, my wife and daughters gather up our drill, taps, bags, and bag holders and head out into the snow-filled woods. The girls stomp down a trail to each of the trees we marked in the fall. When they come to each tree, they study it to see how the tree has been growing, scouting for a spot that might yield lots of sap. This scouting also ensures that the new tap hole is at least 6 inches away from last year’s tap hole. They drill into the tree at a slightly upward angle which allows the sap to run out of the tree better. Then every day the girls enter the woods, collect the sap, and bring it back home to me. I handle the process of cooking it down into the dark, golden syrup everyone loves.