Large pile of thorny durian fruit

Happy (Unofficial) Durian Day! 10 Funky Fun Facts About This Prickly Fruit

While June 26 isn’t officially Durian Day, we agree with Fly FM, an English-language radio station based in Malaysia, that it should be. That’s why we’re celebrating with 10 funky fun facts about this king of the fruits.

It smells bad — and we mean REALLY bad

Durian’s most famous attribute is its strong and unusual odor. It’s been described asturpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” The aroma is so offensive that the fruit is banned on the subway in Singapore and in some hotels Thailand, Japan, and Hong Kong.

The taste is divisive

As for the taste, durian diners seem to either love it or hate it, calling it everything from “carrion in custard,” “completely rotten mushy onions,” and having a “sewer-gas overtone,” to “lightly sweet and deeply musky,” having “overtones of hazelnut, apricot, caramelized banana and egg custard,” and being “flavored with almonds” with “occasional wafts” of “cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine,  and other incongruous dishes.” 

Journalist Monica Tan describes it best: “You will either be overcome, seduced by its powerful, declarative presence, or reject it outright. And run screaming." 

It grounded a plane

If you’re going to fly two tons of durian, better warn your passengers. In 2018, a plane carrying a large cargo of the pungent produce was temporarily grounded when passengers complained of the stench. Those who had yet to board refused to get on while those who had boarded started to get off. The airline had no choice but to offload the fetid fruit.

It’s caused many an evacuation

The most recent one was just a few days ago: a post office in Bavaria was evacuated due to an “overwhelming smell coming from a suspicious package.” The culprit? Four “Thai durian fruits, sent to a 50-year old resident by his friend in Nuremberg.” The “overwhelming smell” has also cleared out a university, a hospital, and a mall.

The jury’s out on its health benefits

While durian has tons of vitamin C and other nutrients, it’s also believed that eating too much might cause “excessive sweating [and] raise your blood pressure," and "should be avoided altogether if you’re pregnant.” At the same time, however, some take it to lower blood pressure and reduce fever.

Durian earring

Durian earrings anyone?

Don’t drink and durian

Another folk belief it that the fruit shouldn’t be combined with alcohol, and it looks like there’s science to back this up. A 2009 study from the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that durian makes it harder for the body to break down alcohol.

Love fruit, thy name is durian

Still others consider it an aphrodisiac. Apparently there’s a Malay saying that goes, “When the durians fall down, the sarongs fly up.” 

The capital of Indonesia is known as the Big Durian

The city of Jakarta is nicknamed the Big Durian, modeled after the Big Apple of New York City. And very fitting since Indonesia is a durian leader, producing over a million tons in 2018.

Jakarta isn’t the only one with a durian moniker: the Esplanade, a performing arts center with a spiky, ovular design, has been affectionately dubbed “the Durian” by locals. 

A thornless version has been produced

Speaking of spikes, agricultural officials in Indonesia recently announced that after 12 years of experimentation, they’ve been able to produce smooth-surfaced durian. Easier to open, this version's flesh is said to be thinner and sweeter. No word on the smell though.

Did you know you can feast your ears on durian too? Check out these adorable earrings.

[Image: Durian "The King of Fruits", Malaysia by Kalai (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

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