During the maple syrup season in spring, maple trees drip their sap into buckets that harvesters haul away so they can boil down the sap into syrup. But before the syrup gets distributed, the hot liquid is drizzled over a finely packed trough of snow, solidifying it into sugary maple toffees.

Making maple toffees, also known as “sugar on snow” candy in the United States and tire d’érable in Canada, is an old tradition of the maple sap harvest. In this 1955 video archived by British Pathé, a large group of eager children and adults huddles around the packed snow and watches as a woman pours the hot syrup. It only takes a couple of seconds until the candy can be rolled, dolloped with popsicle sticks and gobbled up.

The tradition of making these chewy candies goes back to pioneer days, the production of pure maple syrup being one of the oldest agricultural enterprises in the United States. It’s a popular treat in regions of maple sap production, including eastern Ontario, New Brunswick, northern New England, and Quebec.

People still carry on the tradition. In New England, communities gather at Sugar On Snow Parties, where the maple toffee is made in large quantities and eaten with sour pickles and doughnuts to contrast the sweetness. In the video below, a maple syrup candy maker in Quebec, Canada has a station where she pours a tin canister of syrup and rolls up little lollipops to sell to customers.

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