PhotoDisclaimer: during a trip to Vermont a couple years ago, we vaguely recall a tourist trap offering “VerMints” for sale. Specifically, we recall wrinkling our nose and saying, “Vermin? Who names candy after vermin?” although we soon realized the mints were supposed to evoke thoughts of “the Green Mountain State” rather than “rats spreading the Black Death throughout Europe.”

We were not impressed by the name but Vermont's attorney general was, impressed enough to file a lawsuit against the company — not over possible association with vermin and varmints, but because, as the AG's office said in this January 13 press release:

VerMints, Inc., violated the law by labeling its flavored mints as “Vermont” products when in fact they were made in Canada largely from out-of-state ingredients. The settlement requires VerMints and its President, Gary Rinkus of Braintree, Massachusetts, to donate $35,000 to the Vermont Foodbank, pay the State of Vermont $30,000, and add corrective labeling to its products for 18 months. …. VerMints’ products come in metal tins, and from 2006 to 2011, they were prominently labeled as “Vermont’s All-Natural Mints.” …. The corrective advertising provision of the settlement requires VerMints to add the words “Produced in Canada” to the front of tins sold to states in the northeast United States, to counter the impression that the products come from Vermont.

Vermont has a proven track record of taking its image (and that of its locally made products) very seriously. In January 2011, for example, McDonald's then-new offering of “Fruit and Maple Oatmeal” drew the ire of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, because the state's maple laws forbid adding the word “maple” to a food product unless the food contains actual maple syrup, not just maple “flavoring.”

Genuine maple syrup and maple sugar are considerably more expensive than ordinary cane and beet sugars and syrups because in order to harvest syrup, it's not enough to merely have a healthy sugar maple tree of the right age; you also need a sustained period of time each year when temperatures drop below freezing every night yet rise above freezing every day.

In the continental US, sugar maples are fairly common, and can grow as far south as Texas — though local temperatures usually make maple sugar production impossible. Canada produces the majority of the world's maple syrup, though a good percentage of domestic U.S. production comes from Vermont.

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