Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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The Manhattan Maple Syrup Mystery Solved!

About three years ago I remember smelling an oddly sweet aroma as I was walking around the west side of Manhattan. A few additional sniffs revealed it smelled exactly like maple syrup and thus the Manhattan Maple Mystery was born (I made that up just now). The New York Times opened their article in 2005 like this: “An unseen, sweet-smelling cloud drifted through parts of Manhattan last night. Arturo Padilla walked through it and declared that it was awesome.” The funniest thing I remember hearing was that people thought it was a terrorist attack (which isn’t really funny, but funny to think that we had been attacked with maple syrup).

Now, about three-and-a-half years later, the mystery has been solved. The New York Times reports today, “The city revealed on Thursday that the culprit was the seeds of fenugreek, a cloverlike plant, which are used to produce fragrances at a factory across the Hudson River in North Bergen, N.J. It turned out that the city had never given up trying to determine the aroma’s origin. It had quietly created a crack maple-syrup team that remained on the case.” So that’s that.

Update (2/6/09): Whoa, maybe that’s not that. Dan pointed out in the comments that there are still some questions surrounding the smell. Mystery (maybe) NOT solved!

February 6, 2009