Mayor Bloomberg and other city officials may have named North Bergen, NJ factory Frutarom as the source of the mysterious maple syrup smell that wafts into New York City every so often, but Frutarom and North Bergen beg to differe. Frutarom sent an e-mail to the Star-Ledger, "We have been made aware of the statements made by Mayor Bloomberg this morning regarding the source of the maple-syrup odors in NYC. The naming of our company as one of those potentially contributing to this condition came as a surprise to us."
In spite of NYC's odor mapping and analysis, North Bergen spokesman Phil Swibinski told us, "While North Bergen would be happy to take credit for sharing our sweet smell of success, the fact is that the NJDEP has not concluded that Frutarom is the source of this smell in New York. Some health experts believe that it is highly unlikely that a food-based emission from a small plant like this could be so strongly detected three or four miles away." YES! The mystery endures!
Mayor Bloomberg, who did admit that there could be other factories producing the sticky sweet smell, emphasized that the rich scent was not hazardous and that it didn't appear Frutarom violated any laws. But he also emphasized that NYC agencies worked with the NJDEP (the NJDEP hasn't returned our call yet; NJ Governor Corzine's office referred us to the NJDEP), which is turning this into a bigger puzzle. But it's gold for the Post, whose lede is, "Who knew that America's armpit could smell so sweet?"
The smell, according to NYC officials, is from Frutarom's processing of fenugreek seeds. And even Frutarom's neighbors confirm it does smell maple-y good; one tells the NY Times, "For the most part the smells are actually quite enjoyable. Ooh, it makes you hungry.”
Bloomberg was practical about it, "It just happens to be one of the aromas we're going to have to live with in a city like New York... All things considered, I can think of a lot of things worse than maple syrup." And this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that NYC had blamed NJ for a smell.