The branch of United States Armed Forces has researched a universal stank for use in a nonlethal capacity, reports Harper's Magazine (August 2013). In "A Brief History of Scent", writer Beau Friedlander discusses an entertaining variety of off-label uses for the smell of cadavers, including "Stench Soup".
An olfactory strategist named Pamela Dalton told Friedlander that she worked on a project for the U.S. military who had "wanted to know if there was a 'universal malodor' that caused people from any culture to leave the area."
The answer, Dalton said, was a nonlethal biological agent...known as Stench Soup. In [a] test trial, volunteers were asked to drink a milkshake while smelling Stench Soup. Most couldn't.
"What we realized rather quickly," Dalton told me, "was that if [the odor] was going to transcend culture, it had to be something that had biological significance, and that's why we focused on things like vomit.... We worked on our own formula for human feces. We did a rotting-sewage odor, rotting meat."
Stench Soup works on the principle that something truly repulsive needs to have something nice in it to make the olfactory mucosa want more. Said Dalton, "Combining these unpleasant formulas with...a floral or a fruity odor was what made the thing so disgusting none of us could stand it."
Shades of Sécrétions Magnifiques, methinks.
Further on the topic of Stench Soup, Bionity.com reports:
The Guinness Book of Records lists two smelliest substances. One is the "US Government Standard Bathroom Malodor", a vile mixture of eight chemicals with stench resembling human feces, only much stronger, designed to test the efficacy of deodorizers and air fresheners.
Another one, "Who me?", is a mixture of five sulfur-containing chemicals and smells like rotting food and carcasses. "Who me?" was designed during World War II, for use by the French Resistance to humiliate the German soldiers. Dalton...has combined the worst of the two to make "Stench Soup".
|Who me? No pointing necessary, mister.|
And according to an article on MentalFloss.com:
...hundreds of people wrote and called Dalton to tell her about the God-awful smells that only she, as an expert, would appreciate, [including]:
Burning cat poop. (This person confided that, in the spirit of discovery, she had actually put her cat's poop on a lit barbeque.)
Five pounds of raw shrimp left in a vacation home over the winter.
The fluid excreted by a dog's anal glands.
"My mother's basement."
The socks and underwear of a guy named Gary. Wrote a friend of Gary: "All you would have to do is throw a pair of his socks in the Taliban caves in Afghanistan and I promise you they would come running out."