The World’s Most Bizarre Aphrodisiac Foods

Malaysian woman holding Durian fruit known for its smell.

The World’s Most Bizarre Aphrodisiac Foods

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and there’s a reason stores nationwide have been stocking up on their chocolate supply in anticipation of the event. Yes, it’s in part because it’s profitable, but it’s also because chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac.

Derived from the name of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, the word “aphrodisiac” pertains to different foods and drinks that supposedly amp up your sex drive and pleasure receptors after consumption. And while chocolate and oysters are well-known aphrodisiac foods in the United States, cultures throughout history have honored certain foods as aphrodisiacs—some more bizarre than others.


From maggot-infested cheese to an incredibly dangerous fly, here are some of the world’s most historically bizarre aphrodisiac foods.

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Malaysian woman holding Durian fruit known for its smell.

1. Durian

One of the first things I ever heard about durian was that it had such an offensive odor that it was banned on various forms of public transport. Apparently, the smellier the better, because durian is considered one of the best aphrodisiacs in Southeast Asia.

2. Casu Marzu

There’s nothing more romantic than a well-curated cheese plate enjoyed over candlelight with a glass of wine, right? In Sardinia, they take it a step further and consider casu marzu—a rotting sheep’s milk cheese that is filled with live maggots—an aphrodisiac.

6 of the World's Most Bizarre Aphrodisiac Foods

3. Spanish Fly

Part of the blister beetle family, legend had it that if you consumed a Spanish fly, your libido would get a big boost. Unfortunately, the truth is that consuming a Spanish fly will result in a chemical reaction, and only in men.

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Spanish flies contain a chemical called cantharidin that causes the skin to “blister.” So yes, you’ll feel something tingly in your genitals—but you might also experience convulsions, bloody urine, extreme abdominal pain or even death.

4. Balut

In New York, roasted nuts, hot dogs and fluffy pretzels are considered typical street food fare, but in the Philippines and Laos, a duck egg known as balut is one of the most ubiquitous and cheap snacks you’ll find.

What is balut, exactly? Oh, just a duck egg that houses an actual semi-formed duck fetus (typically about 16 to 20 days into gestation) swimming in liquid. If you’re lucky, your fetus might even have a beak or a feather.


5. Sexual Organs of Animals

Something tells me the thinking was pretty straightforward here: consume a mighty animal’s penis, and be imbued with the mighty animal’s spirit, so to speak. In particular, the ancient Chinese prized the Tiger penis (虎阴茎 huyinjing) above all others.

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6. Mandrake Root

The magical powers of the mandrake predate the Harry Potter books by centuries. In the Book of Genesis, mandrake root allowed Rachel to conceive Jacob, and Greek philosopher Pliny believed that because the mandrake root resembled female genitals (in his opinion), it also increased potency