Mystery maple syrup stink of New York revealed

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60 Responses to “Mystery maple syrup stink of New York revealed”

  1. urshrew says:

    Actually, it was an attempt by New Jersey to tempt Manhattanites to their local diners. Their thousands upon thousands of local diners.

  2. vespabelle says:

    Gnosis, your radiators are filled with the sweat of lactation mothers of course! (see post#8)

  3. Teller says:

    Guess that just leaves D.B. Cooper.

  4. ill lich says:

    Really? A mysterious odor coming from NEW JERSEY?

    I am sooooo shocked!

  5. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    Wow. A potentially toxic stench wafting over from New Jersey. That’s never happened before.

  6. Takuan says:

    hey! you never get gas?

  7. Anonymous says:

    What the hell does fenugreek have to do with lactating mothers?!?

  8. BingoTheChimp says:

    @#2

    Many people? Seriously? Many people fear bioterrorism? I usually assume someone’s baking.

    I guess you don’t live here. We’ve learned to assume the worst, and are usually right.

  9. jimbuck says:

    Whenever there’s a bad smell, New Yorkers blame NJ. It’s part of the city’s charter I believe.

  10. sg says:

    It’s an essential ingredient in Berbere sauce too- one of the common flavors in north african/Ethiopian/Eritrean foods. And the maple-syrup B.O. thing happens to guys too- it’s pretty weird, but easy to try if you’re so inclined.

  11. El Stinko says:

    #16, that’s was the problem. It was a GOOD smell! So therefore we concluded it couldn’t have come from Jersey. The only rational explanation at that point was terrorism cloaked in a pleasant aroma.

  12. gnosis says:

    Glad I’m not crazy about the radiator thing! Also, when I went to an isolated college and only ate the institutional cafeteria food for two years, I got the maple-syrup B.O. Disgusting!

  13. theRadness says:

    Does anyone from the North-Westerly ‘burbs of Denver remember when the Jolly Rancher factory was still in use? Growing up, my neighborhood always smelled of apple and cherry candy in the evenings.

  14. stegodon says:

    @ 9 “I always thought it was from old steam radiators heating people’s apartments. Mine smells like maple syrup. Not sure why.”

    !!!
    I’ve experienced this as well. I was living in an old brownstone in Chicago two years ago and every time the radiator heated it smelled of maple syrup. Bizzarre.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Fear of fear itself: Now as American as apple pie.

  16. Andrea N says:

    I have to wonder if they went out of their way to make the mayor sound silly. The quotes are priceless.

    ‘In this day and age, we must take every possible threat to our safety seriously no matter how innocuous it might be.’

    He added, ‘It wasn’t exactly akin to searching for a needle in a haystack, but a smell over a very large area.’

    Paranoid absurdity followed by mid-sentence metaphor failure. Comedy gold.

  17. Xopher says:

    No, Zuzu, the joke wasn’t “lost.” It’s just been made so many thousands of times that it’s no longer funny. Come up with something new to say; that’s essential to humor. I’m telling you this because you are obviously trying to learn humor by rote, since you have no sense of it yourself.

    You seem to want everything to be logical. What are you, a Vulcan? Logic doesn’t rule emotions. Calling something an “unjustified emotional response” is absurd on the face of it; emotional responses aren’t justified, ever, nor are they ever unjustified. Justification and emotional responses don’t interact in any way.

    And as for Diana, you know (or perhaps you don’t), it’s possible for someone’s life to mean something to people who never met them. For one thing, the people who cried for Diana may have admired her and hoped that one day they would meet her; those hopes would have been dashed by her death. In addition, many people saw that she was doing good work (the first celebrity to publicly embrace a person with AIDS, for example, which had an influence on millions of people), and the potential for more good work was cut off by her death.

    But “justified” as that may be, if you’re looking for justification for emotional responses, you’re looking at the wrong species. That’s not how humans are, and I hope they never will be.

    And as for your post at 53: Please stop being a dick. If you don’t think you’re being a dick, you are incorrect. Go stand in front of a mirror and say 10 times “I have been being a dick. I should stop now.” If that doesn’t make you think you’ve been being a dick, repeat the exercise until it does.

  18. reglobb says:

    I have a similar but much lower-scale maple syrup mystery here in London…

    I visited my former (semi-squalid) flat to see my old flatmates recently and noticed two streaks of brown liquid running all the way from the ceiling to the kitchen worktop.

    I asked them what it was and they claimed it was maple syrup. It smelt like maple syrup, they said, and admittedly looked a bit like maple syrup (albeit dirtier), but I wasn’t convinced. Who spills maple syrup and leaves it on the floor long enough for it to soak all the way through a linoleum floor, through wooden floorboards, through a layer of plaster and down a wall to the MDF kitchen work surface below? How indeed would that happen??

    In my assessment of the situation, similar in pessimism as the assumption that the NY smell must be bio-terror, I have simply decided it must be a dead mammal of some sort. Could the decaying juices of a dead mouse smell like maple syrup? Could anything else explain this?

  19. Merrybad says:

    Lived in Richmond, VA, in two locations on Grace Street– one smelled of butter and cinnamon due to the Girl Scout cookie bakery, and one of odd combos like vanilla and turmeric due to the spice factory a couple of blocks away. Mixed with the rich aroma of the alleys, of course.

  20. sforslev says:

    Nursing mothers take fenugreek to increase their milk supply. It really works but it does make you smell like maple syrup. I took it when my daughter had a growth spurt at around 5 months old.

  21. Takuan says:

    bitter almonds are nice. So’s geranium.

  22. grimc says:

    Better if they left it as a mystery.

  23. Tenn says:

    Many people? Seriously? Many people fear bioterrorism? I usually assume someone’s baking.

  24. Tavie says:

    @Xopher, hear hear.

    As a NYC-born Hobokenite with no sense of smell, I don’t understand what all the sniping is about. I do remember everyone talking about that maple syrup thing and wishing I could smell it, too…

  25. Hellosluggo says:

    Fenugreek is also used to aid milk production in lactating mothers. The story would have been much more interesting if not just the smell, but the *vapors* of fenugreek had wafted over Manhattan, causing women to spontaneously lactate. Heh.

  26. enealio says:

    30 Rock made fun of this a few months back.

    Jack: Do you smell maple syrup?
    Liz: Yes!
    Jack: Don’t panic, Lemon, it’s probably not a chemical attack.
    Liz: What do you mean, probably?
    Jack: It’s probably just a strange wind pattern coming over those factories in Staten Island where food flavors are made. I don’t think it’s northrax.
    Liz: What’s northrax?
    [Tracy starts his Re-Run dance]
    Jack: It’s a chemical agent we sold to the Saudis in the 1980s that smells exactly like maple syrup. But I don’t think this is it

  27. Phos.... says:

    From my archive of oddsevations:

    Growing Season in Lancaster County PA
    This time of year it’s nice to open the windows and let fresh air into the house. This is farm country, and so, also at this time of year the farmers are spreading manure on their fields. It’s not horribly objectionable, so long as you’re not right next to the field, but still, you know it for what it is: liquified farm animal shit.

    What’s odd, here in my little corner of the county, is that the main Twizzlers factory is only about 2 miles away, and when the atmosphere is just right this time of year, in through my open windows wafts a combined breeze of cherry or strawberry Twizzlers aroma combined with the stench liquified shit.

    My nose at once orders my mind and taste buds to be simultaneously revulsed and heightened with salivatory anticipation. Am I going to eat some sweet candy? Or am I going to puke?

  28. WhoahWhat says:

    At the University of Texas, we’ve had the same smell (though it’s more like Aunt Jemima’s than maple syrup) for years wafting along one of the roads bisecting the campus, and no one could figure out what exactly was making it.

    We all assumed it was the chemistry building, so I guess this is a comforting (somewhat) confirmation.

  29. zuzu says:

    Whenever there’s a bad smell, New Yorkers blame NJ.

    because New Jersey is the armpit of the United States.

  30. jeffbell says:

    You can fenugreek leaves in Indian markets, called “methi”. It’s good in spinach.

    At my house, it’s usually going to rain if I smell garlic in the morning. It means the winds are from Gilroy.

  31. nanuq says:

    As opposed to the smell of molasses that terrorizes Boston…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Molasses_Disaster

  32. Takuan says:

    (Joisey, they like for you to call it Joisey)

  33. Xopher says:

    I really doubt it, Antinous. Damnant quod non intelligunt is Zuzu’s middle name.

  34. zuzu says:

    Do you live in New Jersey?

    Not currently, but I’ve only really heard that expression from friends who grew up there. (Looking on a map it makes as much geographic sense as Florida’s panhandle being USA’s wang.)

    Mostly my observation has been that you always pay to leave Jersey (by bridge or tunnel) — as if escape were means tested.

    To be fair, people say central Jersey (between the NYC spillover and the Philly spillover) is actually habitable to more than humans and skyrats. Jersey beaches are also ok insofar as I no longer generally fear stepping on used syringes there as I did many years ago.

    Also, the ban on self-service gasoline is weird, but the prices are lower since the refineries are there.

    Anyway, I don’t think it’s northrax. ;)

    Their thousands upon thousands of local diners.

    Tell me about it!

  35. Boeotian says:

    New Yorkers are getting way too paranoid. I would be puzzled, yes, but also delighted.

  36. Jonathan says:

    “bio-terrorism cloaked in a pleasant aroma”. :)

  37. wolfwitch says:

    If it covers up the usual smell of urine and decay- they should contract the factory to process fenugreek all the time.

  38. pinehead says:

    They should arrange to create that smell more often. Maybe it can help make people happier.

    Example: I remember visiting a Land O Lakes plant in Wisconsin, where they made calf mix (like powdered baby formula for calves). The smell was exactly like that of a bakery making cakes. It was wonderful; such a sweet and happy kind of smell. It had an obvious effect on the workers; burly warehouse men in hard hats smiling and saying hello, swapping jokes as they worked, people in the offices all smiles and chatting effortlessly. I am convinced that the smell of that stuff was the cause.

  39. Takuan says:

    you’re slipping people! Just a few years ago and we’d have a few witches aflame by now!

  40. zuzu says:

    You do realize that when you say things like that, it makes the residents of that area feel like they’re subhuman and causes them emotional pain.

    I think that’s an exaggerated / significantly over-sensitive claim.

    However, if any residents of New Jersey genuinely felt subhuman or emotional pain due to my remarks, please know that that was not my intent.

  41. ill lich says:

    To be fair: NJ gets a bad rap for its smell because that area of northern NJ near NYC is just clogged with nastiness: landfills, factories and marshes. When I was very young my family would visit relatives in Philly every summer, and we would drive through that area between Jersey City, Newark and Elizabeth, and it was just unbearable (especially back in the 1970′s-80′s). A lot of people base their idea of NJ on that alone, and it has led to the popular misconception that all of NJ is the similarly disgusting. South Jersey is quite nice, and nothing like that little island of filth just outside NYC.

  42. Takuan says:

    hey, fuggeddaboutit! Ya want fer chance to go down to da river later, maybe do some water-skiing?

  43. Anonymous says:

    I work at a newspaper and behind the building near a vent, it smells like maple syrup mixed with celery. It’s a strangely good smell, but I doubt it’s fenugreek. Anyone have any idea what that is?

  44. Xopher says:

    Zuzu, the ban on self-service gasoline was sold as a safety measure, but actually it was to protect the jobs of gas station attendants.

    And as a resident of New Jersey who likes it here and would challenge any state (yea, even very California itself) to grow a tastier tomato, I didn’t feel subhuman. I felt like you were SAYING I WAS.

    And I’m not sure whether annoyance counts as emotional pain, but I will tell you this: when you say things like this, it decreases your credibility with me. It makes me less likely to believe you on facts you cite, or to consider your opinion worth listening to. Only a little, but it accumulates as you do it more and more.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      California tomatoes are horrible. There’s something about the soil or the climate here that makes it impossible to grow a great tomato. Generally the things that are really good in the East and Midwest, like corn, tomatoes and melons, aren’t very good here. But we have lots of other great produce to make up for it.

  45. Xopher says:

    And the landfills are mostly filled with NEW YORK’s trash. I used to joke that the part near NYC is nasty because we want to keep the New Yorkers out.

    But Hoboken, which is as close to NYC as anywhere in NJ (as in, I just stood up at my desk and looked at NYC), is really quite nice. Except on a Saturday evening in the summer, but that’s because of all the drunks who come in from the ‘burbs to do things they’d be ashamed to do at home.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I’ve got to nit-pick on word choice here.

    Is “stink” really an appropriate word to describe something that smells sweet? Even if it’s a strong smell, does not really “stink.”

    You describe it as a “delicious smell,” but it also “stinks.” Would you ever, in any situation, say “That smells delicious, it really stinks!” No, no you would not.

    The word ‘stink’ is usually used to describe a sulfurous odor, something that really makes you retch when you smell it. “Maple Syrup Stink”? That’s like saying “It stinks like cookies in this bakery.” it doesn’t work.

    I call it Thesaurus-itis, the inclination for a writer to favor using verbose synonyms of a word even if it’s inappropriate.

  47. Anonymous says:

    The terrorist have won. Good bye America it was fun while it lasted.

  48. zuzu says:

    No. But if you said TRUE things about New Jersey, it would. And FUNNY things would be a different matter altogether.

    I thought it was funny because we were talking about funky odors wafting from NJ, and armpits are smelly. Clearly that small joke has been completely lost amidst the offense-taking and defensiveness thereof.

    You’re just being mean. You can’t reduce emotions to logical fallacy. All you can do is accept or reject the idea that your words have concrete impact on other people’s feelings.

    Not all emotional responses are equally valid, and some are downright ridiculous.

    I don’t want to be mean, but taking personal pride in the reputation of a geographical district seems like a leap to say the least. Like people who cried watching Princess Diana’s funeral who never knew her; that’s also an unjustified emotional response.

    Also, on significantly frequent occasion, people go looking for ways to act offended. It’s like a subtle resurgence of the “politically correct” debate in the 1990s.

    Who wants to live subject to the tyranny of the most emotionally frantic? — the people most easily offended or scared or roused to anger. Must we walk on eggshells for them?

  49. zuzu says:

    And as a resident of New Jersey who likes it here and would challenge any state (yea, even very California itself) to grow a tastier tomato, I didn’t feel subhuman. I felt like you were SAYING I WAS.

    Identifying with where you live is a very odd concept for me. I’ve lived in some really crappy places, but I’ve never felt like I was crappy for living there. Conversely, if I lived in the Happiest Place On Earth, I don’t think that confers me any particular compliment either. Feels like a fallacy of composition/division to me.

    I wonder what people living in toxic Williamsburg think of all this.

    And I’m not sure whether annoyance counts as emotional pain, but I will tell you this: when you say things like this, it decreases your credibility with me. It makes me less likely to believe you on facts you cite, or to consider your opinion worth listening to. Only a little, but it accumulates as you do it more and more.

    I’m very curious if the reverse is true. Would flattery make me more credible to you?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Zuzu,

      You’re just being mean. You can’t reduce emotions to logical fallacy. All you can do is accept or reject the idea that your words have concrete impact on other people’s feelings.

  50. Bonnie says:

    Could have also been Candy Cap mushrooms that smell like maple syrup as well.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candy_cap

  51. Anonymous says:

    Being a lactating mother, Fenugreek is the first thing I thought of… The crazy part of taking fenugreek is that it makes your sweat smell like maple syrup. I smell like an IHOP every day, like it or not!

  52. zuzu says:

    If it covers up the usual smell of urine and decay- they should contract the factory to process fenugreek all the time.

    [in mocked tone] Wolfwich, how could you be so callous to the difficulties faced by NYC residents? You’re just parroting a negative caricature of New York as a desiccated city, which heaps shame and despair upon all New Yorkers, you insensitive clod.

    (Obviously not, Wolfwich, but I’m illustrating a point.)

  53. gnosis says:

    I always thought it was from old steam radiators heating people’s apartments. Mine smells like maple syrup. Not sure why.

  54. Xopher says:

    No. But if you said TRUE things about New Jersey, it would. And FUNNY things would be a different matter altogether.

  55. Xopher says:

    I guess the point isn’t really that you’re saying bad things, but that it seems like you’re parroting things everyone says about New Jersey. Parroting is less credible than originality, because it seems unexamined. That reduces your credibility because “unexamined” is not a plus in the credibility market, so to speak.

  56. Xopher says:

    I love good tomatoes. I just don’t eat them in the winter, because after fresh NJ tomatoes all summer, the tomato-shaped red things in the grocery store just don’t cut it. No flavor at all.

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