Who were the first sugar makers? Many believe native Americans were the first to collect sugar from maple trees in North America. In fact, it was probably squirrels. Squirrels have been observed collecting encrusted sugar from the end twigs they nipped off and make a habit of going from tree to tree. In fact, UVM researchers have quantified squirrels collecting as much as 80mg of sugar from each twig. It's very possible that native Americans observed this behavior and found a way to collect sugar much closer to the ground.