A Near Century of Syrup: Norris Syrup Co.
article by Meredith McKinnie | photos by Martin G Meyers
Nestled in West Monroe, Steve Norris is carrying on his family’s business centered on syrup. Norris Syrup is “high quality, and no cut corners with the exception of automation.” The mill produces an “old-fashioned, thick product, the kind of stuff your grandparents would put on their table.” Primarily a manufacturer who sells to distributors and wholesalers, Norris Syrup uses mostly raw Louisiana products. But most interesting is the company’s longstanding presence in this area, one of the oldest businesses in Ouachita Parish.
Steve Norris’ grandfather, Hobson Norris, opened the first Norris syrup mill in 1924 on none other than Norris Lane in West Monroe. Back in those days, the mill used wood to fire the cookers, and as a result, the mill burned in 1929. After the second mill burned in 1939, and the third mill was split among family during the war, Hobson built the final location in 1945 on Laird Street in West Monroe, and Steve Norris still operates there today. Now using steam as opposed to wood, the mill continues to stand and serve syrup purists. Having been born into the syrup business, Steve hopes his two boys will one day take over the operation and continue the family tradition.
Norris Syrup offers several varieties of flavors and even private label syrups. Norris’ Louisiana Cane Syrup derives from Louisiana sugarcane with a distinct flavor served best on biscuits, pancakes, waffles, and even sausage. The cane syrup can and should be substituted for molasses in any recipe. Norris’ Best Louisiana Syrup is a blend of Louisiana Sugarcane Syrup and corn syrup for a milder, less-concentrated flavor than pure cane syrup. Thick and rich, the balanced flavor makes it the perfect addition to cornbread, biscuits, pancakes, and sausage as well. Substitute Norris’ Best Louisiana Syrup in place of corn syrup to enhance any pecan pie recipe.
Some other selections include: a pecan flavored syrup, a maple flavored waffle syrup, a sorghum flavored syrup, and moonshine syrup, which is a light colored sweet sugar syrup. The moonshine syrup got its name decades ago shortly after the last mill was built in 1945. It being wartime, products were rationed, and the family couldn’t sell sugar. Instead, they cooked the sugar into syrup, and people bought that as sweetener. They called it moonshine syrup because it was essentially bootlegged sugar.
Norris Syrup is primarily distributed in the South, most popular in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi. It can also be found across the country on grocery shelves and tables in California, Florida, West Virginia, and even as far as Alaska, among others. The syrup can be bought locally at Mac’s, Brookshire’s, and Super 1 Foods. Though Steve is primarily a distributor, he promises to serve anyone who comes by the mill on Laird Street. The syrup has also graced the tables of Cotton in downtown Monroe, and the formerly beloved and also once longstanding Cascio’s on Louisville Avenue.
For the craft beer enthusiasts, Norris Syrup collaborated with Great Raft Brewery in 2015 for their Provisions and Traditions beer, a classic Oktoberfest with Norris’ Louisiana Cane syrup aged on American oak. Continuing to evolve and adapt to consumer tastes has kept the Norris brand as North Louisiana’s premier syrup. With traditional, down-home tastes that syrup lovers have come to know and love, Norris continues to excel and evolve to broaden its reach beyond the South. Shop local is a tag we’ve all heard, and for syrup, we can’t get more local than Norris’ Syrup Company established almost a century ago right here in West Monroe.
Norris Syrup Company
227 Laird Street | West Monroe, Louisiana 71291