Over the past few years, New York has been hit by powerful waves of a maple syrup smell. It was first noticed in 2005 by the NYC centric blog Gothamist, then noted again twice in 2006, and in 2007, 2008, and twice this year. 30 Rock even wrote it into a show in 2007.
Each time the smell struck, different parts of the city would be inundated with the strong scent of maple syrup. After it was clear that the smell didn't mean anything bad was about to happen, New Yorkers just rolled with it, almost treating it like a celebrity sighting.
It turns out that the smell is coming from a factory in New Jersey that processes fenugreek seeds for food additives. Most of the worlds food flavoring labs and companies are located in New Jersey. In this case it turned out to be a company called Frutrom. When the wind is blowing just right — hard enough to push the smell across the river from Frutrom's facilities, but not hard enough to completely disperse it — New Yorkers walk around feeling like they're living in a International House of Pancakes.
The company isn't breaking any rules or regulations and there isn't much that can be done, so NYC Mayor Bloomberg has advised his constituents to get used to it. There are many, many things worse than the smell of maple syrup.