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Apparently it's offputting to some people

Tim Nelson
September 21, 2018

To an outsider, Buffalo, New York could hypothetically smell like any number of things. Spicy buffalo chicken wings from Anchor Bar, maybe. The scent of maple syrup wafting across the Niagara River from Canada, perhaps. The olfactory melange of Labatt Blue, vomit, and burning Zubaz pants at a Bills tailgate, even. All of those are good guesses but undoubtedly mistaken.

Why? Because Buffalo smells like cereal. No, this isn’t something one particularly ravenous lunatic observed one morning, but something of a fact corroborated by the noses of local residents and well-known travel site Expedia, which saw fit to include Buffalo on its list of the US’ ten smelliest cities.

It turns out there’s a pretty obvious explanation. A General Mills plant sits just across the Buffalo river from downtown, which first started milling flour sometime around 1905 according to the New York Daily News. While Expedia says the factory emits a “toasted oat scent,” it’s obvious to any Buffalonian who’s ever eaten breakfast that it’s actually Cheerios, one of a handful of cereals produced there.

While it’s a fact that’s largely unknown to outsiders, the cereal smell seems to be a small point of civic pride. There’s a Facebook group acknowledging the scent, and Visit Buffalo once offered free mini Cheerios boxes at the Niagara visitors center. A local clothing brand has emblazoned t-shirts and hoodies with “My City Smells Like Cheerios,” about as appealing of a municipal slogan as you’ll find anywhere in the country.

Given that Buffalo’s General Mills plant was set to undergo a $25 million expansion project back in October of 2016 that expanded its capacity and added cereals like Corn and Honey Nut Chex into the production mix, the city may smell like half of a supermarket cereal aisle by this point. It all may seem a little weird, but hey, it’s better than whatever New Jersey smells like.  

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