The source of a mysterious maple syrup-like smell that has periodically blanketed New York is not a particularly aromatic pancake house but a New Jersey factory involved in the processing of fenugreek seeds, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday.
The source of New York’s sweet-smelling aroma has been identified as a food-flavoring firm in New Jersey.
The sweet aroma first descended upon Manhattan and northern New Jersey in October 2005, initially triggering several building evacuations as well as concern the scent was physically harmful. Authorities from the Office of Emergency Management soon concluded it posed no danger to the public.
The odor made several return appearances in subsequent years, each time confounding nostrils before vanishing as perplexingly as it arrived…
Last week, when several dozen residents of Upper Manhattan called to complain about the smell, the environmental department, having developed a new evidence gathering procedure, gathered air samples from each suspected source in canisters. Tests revealed the pungent perpetrator of that incident was a Hudson County facility owned by Frutorom, a company that develops and manufactures flavors for the food, fragrance and pharmaceutical industries.
The specific chemical agents responsible for the scent are esters, compounds “created by the reaction between an alcohol and an acid” during the processing of fenugreek seeds, according to Bloomberg.
The mayor said New Yorkers will have to tolerate the syrup smell’s occasional return, noting that it’s a relatively benign odor. “All things considered I can think of a lot of things worse than maple syrup,” he said.
Ah-hah! As soon as I realized [thanks to my beloved wife] that we’re talking about methi, I know what these folks are in mind of. Wonderful seasoning and quite common in cooking from some regions of India.