Have you ever taken a good whiff of canned surströmming? If so, you likely haven't forgotten it. This fermented Baltic herring has been widely noted as the world's worst-smelling food—and it might just give durian a run for its money. That said, we'll let you imagine for a moment just how pungent a factory full of this Swedish delicacy must be.
Enter: Oskars, a major producer of surströmming, located in Söråker, Sweden. Locals claim they can smell the cannery from 1000 feet away, and that might not be an exaggeration. The 20 teenagers tasked with canning the herring by hand every summer must resort to rubbing Tiger Balm under their noses or plugging them altogether.
So what is it that gives surströmming such a distinct, nauseating fragrance? That can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that the herring sits in large vats of salt and water for between eight and 10 weeks. Jan Söderström, the second-generation owner of Oskars, tells Great Big Story that there's a clear difference between rotten and fermented—and that surströmming is fermented.
Whatever the preferred descriptor, one thing is certain: You shouldn't be sauntering into this Swedish factory unless you're getting paid to be there.
Watch the full video from Great Big Story below: