Original photos by Uggboy, Anton Olsen, and Michael Nerrie.

The province of Quebec is responsible for 75 percent of the maple syrup produced in the ENTIRE WORLD. So it’s no surprise that they keep a strategic maple syrup reserve — hot weather ruins the volume and taste of the syrup crop, and pancake fiends can get ugly, so it pays to have backup. Which is all very good planning, until more than a quarter of the syrup nest egg disappears.

Whoever took the syrup — 10 million pounds of it, worth more than $30 million — must have put a lot of care and energy into the heist. Painting yourself black, holding a balloon, and pretending to be a cloud is not sufficient to get this sweet stuff out of the vaults; the warehouse is behind a locked fence that is “visited regularly” for security checks. And if that’s not enough (which it really isn’t — shouldn’t there be a trained attack moose and some of those alarm lasers, at the VERY least? We’re talking about the world’s syrup reserves here!), there’s the fact that 10 million pounds of syrup weighs 10 million pounds. But somehow, someone spirited out and emptied more than 15,000 oil-drum-sized barrels, slashing the 37,000-pound syrup reserve by 27 percent.

It’s not clear what thieves would want with 10 million pounds of maple syrup, unless they are Paul Bunyan. Presumably there’s a thriving maple syrup black market in Canada, since they don’t really have mass shootings up there so the criminal element needs something to do. It’s hard to put serial numbers on syrup, so this stuff could be lost forever, but the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers claims the theft won’t affect the global syrup supply.

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Meanwhile, the Quebec police are on the case, hunting for a large and sticky secret hideout. And the federation is working on a new storage facility, one where the fence isn’t made of hash browns and the locks aren’t made of lox.

UPDATE: Ugh. While I’d like to think I have something in common with Onion writers, the ability to call down disaster by joking about it is not the trait I would have picked. In light of recent events I’ve struck out what now reads like a pretty tasteless crack.

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