AUG 19, 2017 12:22 PM PDT

Why Does the Durian Fruit Smell So Terrible?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The durian fruit is as polarizing as it goes. Some people can't get enough of the smell, while others are absolutely repulsed by the fruit's pungent aroma. Richard Sterling, a food writer, described the durian's potent smell as foul as "turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock." Of the aftermath of eating the fruit, Anthony Bourdain says "Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother."

When chemists tried identify the compounds responsible for the durian's uniquely potent aroma, they found at least 50 distinct chemicals. Of those, four compounds had not been found in any other fruit.

Some individual compounds in durian resemble odor notes found in onions, garlic, cheese, skunks, and even dried squid. But as they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And for the durian, it's the combination of all chemicals which mix together that imbue the fruit with such a distinctive and powerful stench.

For those who love durian and adore the aroma, just be sure to consume the fruit outside of confined public areas. The fruit is banned in Singapore's mass transit system among other places.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Can a Chemical Be Both Nurturing and Destructive?
NOV 12, 2020
Can a Chemical Be Both Nurturing and Destructive?
On August 4, a megascale explosion almost leveled half of Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. At the center of the negl ...
JAN 04, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Did Intelligent Civilizations Roam Our Galaxy 5 Billion Years Ago?
JAN 04, 2021
Did Intelligent Civilizations Roam Our Galaxy 5 Billion Years Ago?
Researchers have found that there were likely many intelligent alien civilizations sprawled across our galaxy billions o ...
JAN 19, 2021
Immunology
How Breastfeeding improves Infants Immunity?
JAN 19, 2021
How Breastfeeding improves Infants Immunity?
Breastfeeding benefits are well known for ages, and it has many positive impacts on infant's lives that continue wit ...
JAN 21, 2021
Plants & Animals
Western Monarch Migration Near Extinction
JAN 21, 2021
Western Monarch Migration Near Extinction
Earlier this week, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reported that the western monarch butterfly populati ...
MAR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Sea Slug Shows Extreme Case of Regeneration
MAR 09, 2021
Sea Slug Shows Extreme Case of Regeneration
Some of the most interesting—and possibly strangest—scientific discoveries happen by accident. According to ...
APR 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Dent in Earth's Magnetic Field Caused by Buried Ancient World
APR 17, 2021
Dent in Earth's Magnetic Field Caused by Buried Ancient World
Researchers from Arizona State University have suggested that two giant blobs of rock cupping the Earth's core are l ...
Loading Comments...