Canadians ask Bank of Canada about maple syrup smell on new bank notes

OTTAWA – The penny may be history, but some Canadians suspect the Bank of Canada has been circulating a new scent along with its plastic bank notes.

Dozens of people who contacted the bank in the months after the polymer notes first appeared asked about a secret scratch-and-sniff patch that apparently smells like maple syrup.

“I would like to know … once and for all if these bills are in fact scented, as I do detect a hint of maple when smelling the bill,” says a typical email from a perplexed citizen.

Said another: “They all have a scent which I’d say smells like maple? Please advise if this is normal?”

Under the Access to Information Act, The Canadian Press obtained a year’s worth of correspondence to the Bank of Canada from ordinary Canadians about the new currency. Names were withheld to protect privacy.

For the record, bank official Jeremy Harrison says no scent has been added to any of the new bank notes.

The maple mystery was born soon after the first polymer note — the $100 bill — was released in November 2011, and has persisted in cyberspace on YouTube videos, blogs and Tweets.

A few people were so convinced about the fragrant funds that they actually complained to bank officials that some of their new plastic notes were odour-free.

“The note … lost its maple smell,” said one writer. “I strongly suggest the Bank increases the strength of the … maple smell.”

Another correspondent asked for an explanation after he “could not discern any maple syrup aroma. … I would very much appreciate if you could confirm or bust this myth.”

Yet another cited an alleged scratch-and-sniff area on the new $100 bank note: “I could smell the scent once but not all the time. … I bet a couple friends and cannot find proof, is it just me”?

One person wrote in French asking for the bank’s confirmation or denial of the maple scent to forestall a nasty family dispute at the dinner table.

“Everyone I asked who’s smelt the bills agree they smell like maple,” wrote someone convinced the odour was real.

“So, did the Bank purposely scent them maple? Or is it just a coincidence?”

The Bank of Canada’s repeated denials are unlikely to quash the Myth of the Maple Moola.

A Vancouver woman who creates perfumes said her discerning nose picked up the scent of maple in the very first $100 polymer bills she encountered.

“I didn’t know about this phenomenon until a friend asked me to close my eyes and tell him what I smelled,” Monique Sherrett said in an email to The Canadian Press.

“Maple syrup.”

Sherrett, who has created a small collection of Harry Potter-inspired perfumes or potions, says the bills had been freshly removed from the friend’s back pocket.

“I do think heat has something to do with activating the smell. … Scratching will create some heat friction but my friend’s warm butt is likely the activator.”

The Bank of Canada initially withheld all of the public correspondence about the new polymer bank notes, citing privacy concerns, but recently released a package of material after an investigation by the information commissioner of Canada.

In dozens of emails and telephone calls, people complained about other aspects of the plastic notes, such as:

— the new bills generally exclude images of women, whereas the old bills celebrated women’s-rights pioneers and others;

— the notes stick to one another, making them hard to count. The bank says that’s normal for all brand-new bills and will disappear as the currency gets handled;

— the stylized maple leaf on the currency represents a Norway Maple, a foreign invasive species. The bank categorically rejects that claim;

— the bills are prone to melting when exposed to high heat, such as in a clothes dryer. The bank says its extensive, rigorous testing disproves that.




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Canadians ask Bank of Canada about maple syrup smell on new bank notes

  1. We tested the heating theory and it does actually melt.

    • Specifics please: Heating profile, maximum temperature, over what time. Statements without any evidence and data is worthless.

    • Of course it melts. It’s plastic.

    • The old paper ones used to burn, leaving only ash.

  2. Canada’s First $5 Polymer Test Bank Note Going to Auction – and expected to fetch a pretty scent

    Between 1995 and 1998, the Bank of Canada tested a polymer Luminus paper bank
    note in active circulation with 100,000 Birds of Canada $5 notes. The
    test was performed to determine the longevity of a polymer bank note in circulation, along with the possibility of increased security features in the polymer material.

    A very rare example of Canada’s first $5 polymer bank
    note will be offered for sale by Geoffrey Bell Auctions in conjunction
    with the Toronto Coin Expo on May 30, 2013 and is estimated to sell in
    excess of $10,000

    The note will be on display May 30, 2013 at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St prior to the live auction at the Toronto Coin Expo

  3. I have smelled several $100 bills which have very strong maple syrup aromas. It is incredible the first time it happens and then you will sniff each one after to see if it smells as well. It isn’t the smell of plastic like some have written. It is unmistakably the smell of fresh maple syrup.

  4. This comment was deleted.

    • Well this is clever spamming. Copy another comment and then stick your spam link at the bottom of it.

      These bots are getting quite sophisticated, wouldn’t it be sad if the first AI to pass the turing test was a spambot.

  5. Personally, I find these new notes an embarrassment… the Norway maple leaf (you need only check it against the correct maple leaf elsewhere on the note; the cheap feel of the plastic, the fact that they do not get roughed up with handling so that they no longer stick together (I lost a $100 bill because of this stickiness); and on and on. Give me back the old bills any day. Why in the world did they change them in the first place? Does this government have to mess up everything it touches??

  6. We could blame the scent on the perfume the strippers wear but even that and the location they keep the bills would melt them… The Bills are property of the Bank. They can and will be collected from you at any time! It’s a privilege to be out $100 because you melted it in the dryer.

  7. I have the some problem with some brands of dvd-r CD-rs in the USA. They have a dye or plastic that smells like maple syrup. I noticed this for years long before the money thing happend.

    If they used the same dyes on bills then I would expect the same.

    CD-r work by dye heat changeing the colors slightly there is also plastic sticking dyes all over the disc labels and boxes.

    They have a few types of dye I think it was the azo dye that is the one but I am not sure they lose the smell after being exposed to air for a while. you open a new box stack and you get it hard.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azo_compound

    I would expect your goverment uses this hard to make and expensive dye in some form to print the bills as a security measure. It also sticks well to plastic CDRs or they use the same plastic as the CDR them selfs. they would have almost the same types of materials used as a DVD-R or CD-R disc with special plastic dyes for labels.

    But I am not in canada and I have never seen this money.

    these are they other 2 types of Cd-r dyes that may smell like maple sryup

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanine

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phthalocyanine

  8. When one considers artificial flavors like grape and strawberry (which are esters) taste nothing like their natural counterparts and are more the suggestion of packaging and descriptions to suggest a taste it is easier to see what is going on here. No doubt there are softeners in the plastic which exude a certain scent, this along with all the maple symbols common on Canadian currency you get a good number of people making the association.

  9. That’s where the missing maple syrup went.

  10. being from Australia and having had the notes for years I can honestly say I have never had a note melt on me. I have had few tear and ours smell like money. stop your bloody whinging! lol

  11. I was surprised to read such complaints and so I started sniffing them off and viola, some actually does! http://www.sugarshackvt.com/

  12. Really, seriously… I mean wouldn’t be great if we all had that type of problems. ;)
    Wait, I think they should give one a choice between maple syrup scent or cotton candy, why not cinnamon and vanilla. I would like 2 100 bills with vanilla scent and sprinkles on top please. :)))

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