Asparagus pee

Sadly, I don’t have time to write much today. But I *did* eat asparagus with dinner, and my pee smells obnoxious. I poked around online to see why, and here’s my favorite answer (even so, not so satisfying an answer):

The Straight Dope: Why does asparagus make your pee smell funny?

…Benjamin Franklin, in a wide-ranging discussion of bodily discharges, once noted, “a few stems of asparagus eaten shall give our urine a disagreeable odor; and a pill of turpentine no bigger than a pea shall bestow upon it the pleasing smell of violets.”

It is said that in a venerable British men’s club there is a sign reading “DURING THE ASPARAGUS SEASON MEMBERS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO RELIEVE THEMSELVES IN THE HATSTAND.”

(…And I’m still wondering how it can start smelling so bad so quickly! Today must have been 10-15 minutes.)

May 7, 2007. food, how things work. 6 Comments.


  1. Anita replied:

    An explanation for medical students on the phenomenon (apparently I should be searching for “urine” instead of “pee”):

    May 7th, 2007 at 12:00 pm. Permalink.

  2. Rachel replied:

    Only 40% of the population does this ? Yay, I’m in the Cool Kids Stinky Pee Club.

    hi anita! I like your blog!

    May 7th, 2007 at 4:19 pm. Permalink.

  3. jennifer replied:

    despite us being sisters and the dominant inheritance and all that, I’m pretty sure I either can’t produce the smelly stuff or can’t smell it. ate a pound of asparagus in a single sitting a couple weeks ago and no problems, other than just general asparagus-OD-related discomfiture. we should ask ma&pa

    May 7th, 2007 at 11:35 pm. Permalink.

  4. mrs. nerd replied:

    i have always wondered about this too! scooter claims he has never noticed it, but how can that be? (also i passed along your bananas-in-the-fridge advice to his sister! woot!)

    May 8th, 2007 at 3:19 pm. Permalink.

  5. Anita replied:

    hi rachel, i like your blog too! i even’d it, which is pretty much the equivalent of UTTER FAME.
    you have also inspired me to design this beautiful t-shirt:

    May 8th, 2007 at 11:20 pm. Permalink.

  6. Rachel replied:

    Hahahaha awesome. I would wear that shirt, yes sir.

    May 10th, 2007 at 1:15 pm. Permalink.

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