Maga & Pop’s Pure Cane Syrup Story
Maga & Pop’s farm products are a legacy from each of their parents. Owner Mickey Morris, known to his grandchildren as ”Pop”, grew up in the food business. His father, J.P. Morris, was a product of the great depression, whose family suffered through rationing during World War II. As a way of providing for them, J.P. began his long career in the food business. Mickey grew up in the canning plant helping the family produce Montene Morris vegetable products, as well as, his very own “Mickey’s” labeled boiled peanuts. Pop started his own food career at the age of 28, owning and operating a meat packing plant (Mickey’s Meats). Later, he went into recycling waste fryer oil from restaurants (Odum Service Company). Maga has always been a big part of Pop’s businesses.
Although Maga’s family was never in the food business, she grew up on a family farm with a cane patch. Every winter, the family has a cane grinding and syrup boiling on Friday after Thanksgiving. This annual festivity includes extended family and plenty of friends, who all gather around the open syrup kettle to reminisce about the “good ole days” and wait for the last boiling, to pull taffy and share supper (that’s the evening meal that city folk call “dinner”). The meal includes homemade hot biscuits with sugar cane syrup for dessert, a tradition that has been going on for over 35 years. Maga has six brothers and one sister who work from time to time in the art of sugar cane syrup-making. Two of Maga's brothers are considered “master syrup-makers”. As Maga’s generation matures, the second wave of syrup-makers are carrying on the time-honored tradition on the Harris Family Farm.
A Sweet Idea
The Sugar House in Odum began because Pop thought he could plant sugar cane and make ethanol, as is done in Brazil, to power the trucks in his oil recycling business. However, government controls the production of alcohol much too tightly for that to happen easily. So, because the cane patch was already in the ground, Pop decided to try his hand at syrup-making and figured his extensive experience in the food industry would surely be an asset in this new venture. In Odum and the surrounding Southeast Georgia area, there are still a few local farmers with cane patches who make syrup in the fall. Demand for pure cane syrup exceeds the supply.
Unique Name, Unique Cane
As frequently happens with grandparents and their grandchildren, Maga and Pop’s first grandchild was responsible for their grandparent names. When she began to talk they tried to teach her to say, “Gram-ma.” “Gram-ma” got turned around in her mouth and came out “MaaGaa” (pronounced with the short ‘a’ sound). So from the common “Gram-ma”, to the unique “Maga,” the name was coined.
Pop came about when the same grandchild was playing with her Papa. She hid behind his chair, ran around front, teasingly calling out “Pop” and waited for his response. So forever after, Judy and Mickey are simply Maga and Pop to their grandchildren.