Back off, will ya? You smell like canned tamales.
October 2, 2008 5:48 PM   Subscribe

As someone who takes public transportation every day, I spend a lot of time thinking about body odor. Can you tell me the chemical or bacterial reason that certain types of funk smell they way they do?

Why does some people's body odor smell like cumin -- or why would cumin smell like body odor? I put a pinch of cumin in all my stews, but it's not an appetizing smell when I wasn't expecting it.

Why do some people smell like canned chicken soup at you? Is it for the same reason?

What about the sweet-sour smell that you get around both unwashed kids and some (not all, okay, I promise I am HAAS) heavily overweight people?
posted by Countess Elena to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I know this doesn't directly answer your question, but you might be smelling dirty clothes rather than freshly-produced BO. People who smell like cumin/some other distinctive-smelling spice might either be wearing the same clothes they were cooking and/or eating in earlier, or keep their clothes in poorly ventilated places which smell like food.
posted by thisjax at 7:04 PM on October 2, 2008

They might smell like canned chicken soup because 98% of the can went into their pan and 2% splattered on their clothes! You don't have to wear the whole can to get the odor..
posted by rainy at 7:12 PM on October 2, 2008

I'm pretty sensitive to smells as well, and I've noticed that cooking smells linger on clothes like, well a bad smell. Especially things that get boiled for a long time, like stews and soups.

As to why some overweight people smell sweet/sour: it's very likely diabetes, especially if it's overweight people who are predisposed. Diabetics tend to release more ketones, which tend to have "fruity" smell. (not that I'm recommending testing, but apparently diabetics also taste sweet... )
posted by Yavsy at 8:07 PM on October 2, 2008

I'm a fat babe, and I don't know about sweet/sour, but I do know that I can smell yeasty in hot weather, from yeast under my breasts and in any folds of flesh around my middle, even when I don't have excessive yeast or a yeast infection or any irritation.
posted by not that girl at 8:08 PM on October 2, 2008

I definitely sweat out smells, especially coffee and sometimes garlic. I don't think it's cooking smells, I smell coffee on fresh clean clothes when I've had some coffee that morning even if I haven't spilled a drop.
posted by crinklebat at 8:19 PM on October 2, 2008

I did not know that about ketones. I have heard that diabetes used to be diagnosed through a taste test of urine for sweetness, although this was probably hastily abandoned as a test.

As for yeast, I did ride recently in a subway car that suddenly and bizarrely smelled like baking bread halfway through the trip -- nobody appeared to have any, so I'm guessing that a rider brought the yeast with him/her.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:38 PM on October 2, 2008

In fact, because of the ketones, dogs can be trained to let their owners know when their blood sugar drops. It's true! (And kinda crazy, if you ask me.)
posted by disillusioned at 1:53 AM on October 3, 2008

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