This Surprising Food Hobby Surged During The Pandemic

As the pandemic forced us indoors, we turned to creative culinary challenges to pass the time. During the course of 2020, we learned how to make more than just sourdough loaves. Cloud bread, dalgona coffee, nature's cereal, and much more inspired us to head into the kitchen and make some food worthy of posting on our social feeds (via USA Today). While TikTok and Instagram showed off a ton of trendy dishes, some delicious pandemic hobbies flew under the radar and never got the screen time they so deserved.

Maple tapping emerged as one of the biggest 2020 hobbies that never saw the limelight. According to The New York Times, tapping maple trees to collect their sap took the solo hobbyist world by storm over the past year. This sweet pastime got so big that at-home sap evaporators started to sell out and maple tapping starter kits flew off the shelves (via The New York Times). Adults and kids could get in on it, making it a great family activity, and some even got the chance to pull in a few extra dollars thanks to selling their product.

The sweet history of tapping maple trees

While we might not think of collecting sap as a popular hobby, people have enjoyed strolls through nature while tapping trees for centuries. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, French settlers learned how to tap maple trees in North America from various Indigenous peoples in the 1500s, and the industry saw a boom by the 1800s. Settlers would tap trees and collect the sap in large buckets. They would then transport these buckets to "sugar shacks," where the sap boiled in a pot over a fire and cooked down into the iconic maple syrup we know and love (via The Canadian Encyclopedia). While the technology of turning sap into syrup has evolved, the way we tap trees has stayed the same and we still take the same pleasure our ancestors did hundreds of years ago.

With the right tools and enough free time, anyone can get into this hobby that has spanned multiple generations. With any luck, if everyone who discovered this hobby through the pandemic keeps up their syrup making chops, they'll be able to inspire a whole new generation of maple tappers. Not to mention, you'll have plenty of syrup for all those Sunday morning pancake stacks.