Weird Smell in NYC – Aunt Jemima Suspected

Update from Marcy LaViollette, February 5, 2009:

Apparently they finally think they’ve solved the maple syrup mystery!

From Gothamist, January 5, 2009:

The Maple Syrup Smell… is Back for 2009!


In the past hour, we’ve received five emails alerting us to the alarming news: The sticky sweet scent of maple syrup has made its 2009 debut! So far, the smell appears to concentrated on the Upper West Side, but please let us know if you’ve suddenly gotten hungry for pancakes because the scent of breakfast has been so overpowering. Email us at tips(at)gothamist(dot)com.

Previous maple syrup incidents: October 2005, March 2006, November 2006, November 2007, and May 2008. Plus a November 2007 cameo on 30 Rock.

Update: We added two more smellings (one at West 80th & Amsterdam, the other on East 82nd between Park and Lexington). In the past, a reader said it smelled like anti-freeze “which, if you ever spilled while adding to your radiator, has a nasty maple syrup smell.”

Update (11:15 p.m.): More smellings added to the map (including ones in Queens); one reader was at her friend’s apartment when the smell struck, “We thought at first it was her neighbors doing something kinky, or that it was a new form of bioterrorism!”

Another reader wondered, “Is this the first time it’s not on a Thursday night? And why does it always hit at about this time of night?” We’re not sure why it seems to strike at night, but as for the days of the week, the incidents on 10/28/05, 11/9/06, 11/8/07 and 5/29/08 were Thursdays, but the 3/13/06 incident was a Monday.

Update (11:34 p.m.): More smellings, map revised to include some readers’ comments, including this gem: “In Tudor City, 43rd and 1st. I thought it was my own sweet bo at first!”

Update (midnight): Thanks for all the tips””keep them coming. We’ve added some in Soho, Midtown, and Brooklyn. In fact, one reader writes, “Yesterday I mentioned to my wife that I smelled the Maple Syrup Smell. We were at the Red Hook Ikea.” We’re not sure if that’s the maple syrup canary in the pancake coal mine, but it does not correspond with the wind pattern hypothesis, which makes most sense to us.

Related stories:

  • Mysterious Sweet Smell From 2005 Returns to Manhattan, New York Times, January 6, 2009
  • THAT SMELL, New Yorker, November 7, 2005
  • Good Smell Perplexes New Yorkers, New York Times, October 28, 2005