The Pacific Northwest just got a little bit sweeter. At least, the Puget Sound did. After weeks of holiday baking and eating, Researchers at the University of Washington are stating that the Puget Sound is now being flavored by cinnamon and vanilla.

Keil and UW researcher Jacquelyn Neibauer's weekly tests of treated sewage sent into the sound from the West Point treatment plant in Magnolia showed cinnamon, vanilla and artificial vanilla levels rose between Nov. 14 and Dec. 9, with the biggest spike right after Thanksgiving.

Using benchmarks from a published scientific study, they were able to estimate that people in Seattle and a few outlying areas served by the sewage plant scarfed down the daily equivalent of about 160,000 butter- or chocolate-chip-type cookies and about 80,000 cookies containing cinnamon during the Thanksgiving weekend.

So far, there's no evidence that the abundance of vanilla is taking its toll on any sea creatures, but who's to say that it won't. Does this mean that vanilla salmon will be the new hot trend in 2007? I suppose if all of the coffee that made its way to the Puget Sound had little effect on the fish, hopefully vanilla won't either.

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