Maple syrup event
The maple syrup event was the objective presence of a particular scent in New York City, and the response to this smell by the residents, various media outlets, and government agencies. Reports of the events are said to have begun in the fall of 2005, and continued sporadically into early 2009. New Yorkers feared the sweet smell was a form of chemical warfare. The scent was eventually traced to its source, a Frutarom Industries Ltd. factory in northern New Jersey, which was processing fenugreek seeds, commonly used in maple syrup substitutes. This source was traced through a collaborative process between the citizens of New York City, the city's 311 system, the New York City Office of Emergency Management, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and a working group which gathered and analyzed atmospheric data. The ingredient was fenugreek seeds, which was commonly used in many foods including curry powder, vanilla flavoring, and an imitation of pancake syrup.
In popular culture
30 Rock season 2 episode 6 "Somebody to Love", which first aired in 2007, refers to the maple syrup event. Liz Lemon, Tracy Jordan, and Jack Donaghy smell maple syrup at various locations around New York City at the same time. Jack Donaghy suggests that the smell may be Northrax, a chemical weapon he believes the United States government sold to the Saudis in the 1980s.
Hip hop group Run the Jewels refer to the maple syrup event in the song "36" Chain": "Woke up and the city air smelled like maple / If you come straight from New York, you relate."
BrainDead season 1 episode 2, which aired in 2016, makes passing reference to the maple syrup event when Laurel searches "Exploding Heads in D.C." and comes across a conspiracy website featuring an article on "The truth behind the maple syrup smell in New Jersey."
- TRYMAINE LEE (January 6, 2009). "Mysterious Sweet Smell From 2005 Returns to Manhattan". New York Times.
- Steven Johnson (November 1, 2010). "What a Hundred Million Calls to 311 Reveal About New York". Wired.
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