This image was lost some time after publication.

The sweet smell of syrup blanketed the city last Thursday night — not that we smelled it ourselves, but, then, our nostrils were otherwise occupied that evening — and no one had any idea why. In this week's Talk of the Town, which we just got to last night, The New Yorker looses its inner Sy Hersh (if not, alas, its actual Sy Hersh) on the question of the aroma. The real Sy would have done better. Some Remnickian hypotheses:

• The real-estate hypothesis: It's a Realtor's trick to put a pie in the oven to make a house seem more appealing, and, with the market cooling off, perhaps this trick was simultaneously pulled across the city. On a Thursday night. Or,

• The peak-foliage hypothesis: Maple leaves were turning and falling from trees last week, and the prevailing wind that night was from the woodsy northwest. So the mulching leaves smelled like syrup, which then crossed the Tappan Zee. Or,

• The candy hypothesis: Could the Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven, on Hudson Street, have been making something delicious? The aroma from which then permeated the city?

Respectable theories, all. Still: No, no, and no.

Which means The New Yorker spent 500 words — a pleasant 500 words, granted — to tell us that it, too, has no freaking idea.

That Smell [The New Yorker]
Earlier: Only in New York, Literally