Peter I agree that it makes no practical sense for MM to rely on some local mom and pop syrup makers. It seems that it would take a national company to reliably deliver the quantities we are considering. But I do wonder because of some inconsistencies in reported sweetness.
I'd like to take a stab at the sweetness inconsistency issue, now that I gave gone around the block several times.
First, the molasses used by MM in its commissary can itself vary, with each crop and with each production operation. When I spoke with the nice lady in the Crosby laboratory in Canada, she told me that the Nutrition Facts for molasses change regularly. In Crosby's case, they use certified outside laboratories to test their products and determine what goes onto the Crosby molasses labels. In Crosby's case, it looks like they go through this process a couple of times a year. When I spoke with Paulette at Domino Specialty Ingredients and asked her why the ingredient variations for the Homemaid Molasses were so wide, she said it was because they were getting product from multiple suppliers. So, they use the values from those suppliers in creating the ranges. She also said that there were variations in their molasses products because of crop issues, weather, heat and other such factors. Also, in their case, they get sugar cane from about 23 different countries. Just that factor alone might mean fairly wide variations in the nature and quality of the molasses produced from crops from so many countries.
Second, even with sophisticated machines and test equipment in MM's commissary, a wet and sticky product like molasses can be difficult to work with. I envisioned that MM procures its molasses in very large quantities, if not in bulk (like tractor trailer loads) then in 55-gallon drums. What I don't know is how the molasses is introduced into the dough making process. Is it siphoned off from a large molasses holding container into one or more dough making lines, or is is siphoned off or drawn off into pails by volume rather than by weight and then emptied by workers into the dough making equipment? Either way, I can imagine variations that can affect how much molasses goes into the machines and ends up in the dough balls. Moreover, we already know that there are normal variations in dough ball weights. Once the dough balls are made, we don't know how much molasses is in each dough ball. Hopefully, the percent of molasses is the same.
Third, it seems to me from my experiments with MM clone doughs that the line between achieving the desired degree of sweetness and missing that point is quite narrow. If for example, you need say, 14% of a particular type or brand of molasses to get the desired degree of sweetness, and instead you end up with say, 13%, you might not get that sweetness. In the MM commissary, I doubt that they recalculate the amount of molasses they need for each dough ball run. Unless they test each shipment of molasses they receive, based on whatever quality and other test criteria they use, they might just use the standard amount, whether there are variations in the nature and the quality of the molasses or not.
Fourth, I can envision scenarios at the MM store level where there can be losses in the sugars in the dough to the point where the losses might manifest themselves in a loss of sweetness. For example, if the dough balls are allowed to defrost for too long, or are defrosted at temperatures in their commercial coolers that are too high, or if the dough balls are tempered for too long, or at too high an ambient temperature, or if unused defrosted dough balls are refrozen and redefrosted for future use, or some combination of the foregoing, I can see how at the time of use to make pizzas the finished pizzas might have crusts that lack the normal degree of sweetness. As noted in the last paragraph, it might not take much in the way of loss of "sugars" to miss the desired degree of sweetness.
Fifth, when I reviewed the Yelp reports for several MM store locations, it wasn't as though everyone commented on the matter of sweetness. Whether it was because sweetness is not an issue of concern, or because detectable sweetness is not unusual for a pizza crust (with Papa John's being a good example), or because most MM pizzas actually are not always sweet, I do not know. As I previously noted, there were only a few people who commented on the sweetness of their MM pizzas, and only one of them complained that the crust was too sweet. But there was no hue and cry that the crusts weren't sweet, or sweet enough. Since both Norma and I (and Biz on occasion) detected sweetness in the finished MM crusts we sampled, maybe we came to an erroneous conclusion that sweetness was normal and desirable. Maybe instead they were anomalies and not normal for MM pizzas.
Lastly, different people have different sensitivities to sugar/sweetness. In my case, I use little sugar in my diet and I can detect even small amounts of sweetness in products, so that may be a factor in my case--and for others as well.
As I see it, there are too many places where a value can swing one way or another and with enough swings in one direction or another the result can be MM crusts with or without detectable sweetness. I think we will need a lot more inputs from diners at MM stores to get a clearer and better defined picture on the sweetness issue.