Source of Manhattan Maple Syrup Smell Revealed!

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Mayor Bloomberg says sleuths from agencies in the city and New Jersey have identified the source of the mysterious maple syrup smell that would pop up from time to time, usually on the Upper West Side. The source: a facility in Hudson County that has processed foenugreek seeds to produce flavors and fragrances that resulted in esters being formed in the air. According to Meriam-Webster, a foenugreek seed is 'a leguminous annual Asian herb (Trigonella foenumgraecum) with aromatic seeds used in making curry, imitation vanilla flavoring, and some veterinary medicines.'

The smell would only reach Manhattan on days when the wind was blowing West to East and just fast enough to blow the smell across the Hudson, but not fast enough to blow it right past the city.

The mayor declares the case closed and says the smell was never a danger, but the city investigated because you can never be too sure.

odor map

The mayor thanked a bevy of investigators, but said the real hero is his beloved 311 hotline. He says without the calls from New Yorkers they might not have cracked the case.

Click for a map of odor reports >


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Comments [5]

susan burger

I'm so glad someone else noticed that fenugreek is commonly used by breastfeeding mothers. Any lactation consultant in this city can tell that smell from across the room. We always know that it is a mother worried about her milk supply. Its not just the milk that smells of maple syrup it is also the mother. I can't believe that the foodie and the perfume specialist were not aware of fenugreek's most common medicinal use.

Feb. 06 2009 12:44 PM

I've noticed that the mayor (and one of your reporters) keep mispronouncing this as "fenugeek" (no "r").

The seeds are used in Indian cooking, including in Indian-style pickles. The leaf part of the plant is used as greens, similar to spinach or kale.

Feb. 05 2009 02:09 PM

Fenugreek is a seed sold at vitamins stores & sometimes women who are nursing buy fenugreek to increase milk production. It's the only thing recognized by La Leche League as actually working. Funny thing about fenugreek: it makes breast milk smell like maple syrup, just like the Upper West Side. So funny!!

Feb. 05 2009 12:48 PM

America the paranoid!!!

Feb. 05 2009 11:43 AM
James McCallum

I always thought that the maple syrup smell which wafted over my office in Little Ferry NJ was an experiment of the Homeland Security Agency.

It was conducted to determine the patterns of how toxicological air born weapons of mass destruction would travel if released in certain ares of NYC.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean that the terrorists are not out to get me.

great show.

Keep up the good work.

Feb. 05 2009 11:10 AM

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