What’s the point of a non-stinky durian?!

durian.jpg The durian is a South East Asian fruit that is so stinky it is banned from airplanes and smart hotels. The smell lingers like a bad fart combined with the ripest blue chees and crusty hard fetid socks that have been worn for weeks in hot humid weather without a change. Mmmmmm! I bet that’s made your mouth water.

But that’s what Asians - and in particular, Malaysians - love about the fruit. The smell is hideous. But as you eat the sticky, custardy, soft flesh, the taste is aromatic and sweet and creamy. And then you have to live with the most dreadful halitosis rotting sewer breath for hours on end.

So some smart guy has come up with a variety of durian that doesn’t smell. Thai scientist Songpol Somsri apparently spent 30 years of his life researching this project, according to the Seattle Times. The article goes on to say that in Malaysia, durian is prized as an aphrodisiac and a farmer is quoted as saying, “If the durian doesn’t have a strong smell the customer only pays one-third the price.”

I picked up this story from Seth Godin, the marketing guru, who uses it to make a great analogy for marketers who try to fix what they perceive as a problem - by focusing on the people who are not buying the product. So marketers aim to fix the problems in order to get the non-buyers to become buyers - in the meantime, destroying the key qualities that the enthusiastic existing buyers rave about and thereby turning away their core customers.

Personally I’m not a great fan and whenever my family have a great durian feast, I have to keep my distance from them all when we’re chatting afterwards! Still, it seems unnatural and sacriligeous to be tampering with the distinctive quality that makes a durian a durian. I’m not sure I’d eat more durian if I was offered the non-stinky variety - the taste and texture of the eating experience just doesn’t do it for me. I’m much more of a mango fan and I’d choose mango over any other fruit any day. So I guess I’m inclined to agree with Seth. What’s the point of a non-stinky durian if the core customers don’t want it - and neither do the ones who never wanted it in the first place?

Photo: thanks to the Seattle Times

9 Responses to “What’s the point of a non-stinky durian?!”

  1. Kenny Mah Says:

    I agree; I doubt the ones who won’t try it in the first place will now be seduced by a lack of smell, the end product is a different animal, er, fruit altogether anyway.

    As for those of us who relish the scent of a durian, we think the man is bonkers! Madness! Heretic!

  2. yeeton Says:

    DURIAN - king of fruits - to die for - with a fragrance or scent that’s heavenly
    and quite out of this world, eating it with its olfactory properties removed is akin to having sex without orgasm or with much of the pleasurable bit being taken out of and THAT simply wouldn’t do! If on death row and a last meal request before execution, it has got to be the durian by a mile! Better the Thai guy devote his energies discovering how to suppress smell in a confined space or any space.
    I once had some undeclared none-too-smelly champedak (spelling?) flown in in passenger part of aircraft, edible part only that is, tripled-wrapped in cling film,
    properly secured in air-tight double containers AND duct-tapped all round that air could not possibly get in or get out. Guess what, some geezer of a Mat Salleh sitting nearby detected a faint smell that he made a fuss of, I was told on
    delivery.

  3. yeeton Says:

    Oh, I forgot to
    say about the fuss kicked up,
    “it’s the perfume
    I wear”, that
    shut him up!!

  4. kak teh Says:

    yang-may, when i was back in malaysia, i thought i must have eaten enough durian to last me for a very long time. apparently not. went to Loong Foong supermarket - bought a packet of three which cost £3.20 and finished them before I got home. Smell? what smell?

  5. yeeton Says:

    KT, THAT’s £1.07 or RM 7.49 per seed/
    flesh, will set you back quite a
    bit if you
    buy a couple
    of whole large durians
    for the family.

  6. Yang-May Says:

    Wow, we certainly have some durian fans here! yeeton - your description is quite an ode to the durian. kak teh - eating a durian in the street in Central London: you must have cleared the space around you pretty quickly.

  7. yeeton Says:

    “Remember friends, always drink upstream from the herd”

    Smell? what smell? - kak teh

    DURIAN is the ONLY stuff sold in Loon Foong Supermarket / Cash & Carry in Alperton, west London that I could smell from the car park, long before I enter premises proper. I would then know a fresh consignment of king of fruits has flown in from Thailand. And that is even before they open it up for dividing into smaller packets or parcels for those who don’t wish to tackle the whole spiky stuff. Imagine what the smell would be on opening it! But no complaints from me of course.

    No bye-laws against eating, next time I want a whole carriage all to myself on the crowded Underground Tube in Central London, I will do exactly what you do, kt - open a packet of cling-film wrapped stuff I got from London Chinatown and start tucking in! Sure hope I don’t make myself unpopular ! If complaints, would echo your unforgettable words ” Smell, what smell?” Ha ha!

  8. Dino Says:

    I loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee durian…. Don’t speak bad about it… Today I am 22 - I last had durian when I was 6 years old in malaysia… 16 yearssssssssssssss long waited.. Asked everyone — wow.. I am off to Loon Foong Supermarket in west london to get it…… haaaaaaAA — regards, durian fan

    Thanks to yeeton for telling the area whr I can get it.. yessssss

  9. Dino Says:

    other durian fan can join me to eat - durianfan@hybridvodka.com
    mail me to join & share the aroma of durain wd me.. em off

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