The smell of durian fruit has been compared to rotting flesh, onions and dirty gym socks

By Char Adams
May 13, 2019 01:16 PM
durian fruit

Students gearing up for finals at an Australia university’s campus library were in for a stinky surprise last week when a suspected gas leak led to an evacuation. But as it turns out, the culprit wasn’t gas, but rather a very smelly fruit.

Officials with the University of Canberra’s library shared news of the evacuation via Facebook on Thursday, initially writing, “We’ve been evacuated! Will post an update when students can re-enter the building.”

About 550 people were evacuated from the building in under six minutes, officials said.

Soon, they updated the post with the resolution: “And we’re open! Thanks to everyone for evacuating so quickly and safely … Fortunately the suspected gas leak turned out to be a part of a durian – the offending fruit has now been removed.”

“Firefighters have completed a search of the building and located the source of the smell,” the Australian Capital Territory Emergency Services Agency said in a statement, adding that a HAZMAT team carried out “atmospheric monitoring to ensure the area was safe.”

The durian fruit, found in Asia, is known for its pungent aroma, which the late Anthony Bourdain deemed “indescribable,” saying, “Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother,” according to Smithsonian Magazine. It has even been called the “world’s smelliest fruit.

An Indonesian flight was briefly grounded in November 2018 after passengers complained about the fruit’s odor, and durian is banned in Singapore’s subway system, according to CNN.

It seems the library has followed Singapore’s lead. Late last week, the library changed its Facebook profile picture to announce its ban on the fruit.

Food writer Richard Sterling once said the durian’s “odor is best described as…turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away,” according to Smithsonian.

A group of scientists set out to learn just why the durian fruit has such a divisive smell. The 2012 study found that the odor is the result of a mixture of different chemicals, including four compounds previously unknown to science.

The fruit also boasts a unique appearance, with its spiky exterior shielding a ball filled with a custard-like treat.