Arts & Culture News

COVID Patients Are Blaming Candles, and Not Their Noses, For Underwhelming Scents

Maybe it's the scented candles, or maybe it's just COVID.
Maybe it's the scented candles, or maybe it's just COVID. Maskot/Getty
As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, it continues to show no mercy on businesses. The latest industry to be hit is the candle industry.

Over the holiday season, Amazon shoppers who purchased Yankee Candles were unimpressed, to say the least, and ran to the internet in a big showing of disapproval.

“All Yankee Candle products I have bought in the past have been fantastic, however, these particular candles gave off relatively no scent,” Amazon shopper and verified buyer Amy Elizabeth Taylor said in her online review. “Would compare it to a cheap Walmart brand candle and wouldn’t recommend.”

Taylor purchased the balsam and cedar scent, which was not the only scent that was not “up to par” with buyers.

On Dec. 29, an Amazon reviewer by the screen name JAM said, “2016 Christmas cookie [scented] candles smelled wonderful. I purchased 3 this year and they didn't have near the rich cookie fragrance as it did last year and years before. Something is definitely different. Disappointing ... ”

JAM failed to take into account in 2016 there was not a global pandemic with a key symptom: anosmia, the medical term for loss of smell. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, loss of smell and taste are common symptoms of COVID-19. For those experiencing a loss of smell, the symptom can last up to six months, sometimes longer.

Yankee Candles is not the only big-name corporation to be hit with negative reviews. Bath & Body Works has also been victimized by anosmia.

“This is usually my go to holiday candle,” reviewer Jo2020 said about holiday-favorite scent winter candy apple. “I buy whatever the limit is on candle day. I just received my supply of winter candy apple in the mail and decided to burn one right away. To my dismay I can't even smell the scent! Not sure what has changed with this fragrance, but I will be taking back my 17 unburned candles for a refund! Talk about disappointment!”

“I’ve had clients tell me they don’t smell [the candles] even though their families smell it. ... I also have a family member who already had asthma contract COVID-19 back in March 2020 and they do not smell my candles." – Cosmic Grounding owner Grecia Alfaro

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Reviewers Only user Q Coleman also threatened to return 14 unburned candles. But Yankee Candles and Bath & Body Works also received positive reviews as other buyers raved about the scents.

The omicron variant of COVID is rampantly spreading throughout North Texas. On Dec. 28, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced that Dallas County’s Public Health Committee has declared Dallas’ COVID-19 threat level red, which indicates a high risk of transmission.

Local shops, however, are mostly not hearing the same feedback on scented candles that are popping up on online stores. Mariam Reyes of Plano’s Good Hands Wellness sells soy candles embedded with crystals and says so far she has not experienced any comments indicating a lack of smell on her product. Dallas’ Wicks and Wonder, a soy candle shop, also has not received reviews stating there is no scent in their candles.

Grecia Alfaro of Dallas business Cosmic Grounding, however, says she's gotten feedback from candle-buying customers indicating a lack of scent, which she attributes directly to COVID-19.

“I’ve had clients tell me they don’t smell [the candles] even though their families smell it,” Alfaro says. “I also have a family member who already had asthma contract COVID-19 back in March 2020 and they do not smell my candles. I would say 1 [to] 3 out of 100 [customers] have reported this issue.”

The shop owner does not ask unfavorable reviewers whether they've had COVID-19 or experienced symptoms.

Cosmic Grounding sells eco-friendly soy candles poured into upcycled containers sourced from thrift stores and authentic tacitas, bowls sourced directly from Mexico. Soy candles are a natural wax, and their scent isn't as strong as paraffin candles. Despite the difference in material, Alfaro knows firsthand that feedback can correlate to symptoms of COVID-19.

“Since [her family member that contracted COVID-19] came into my home every now and then, she definitely does not smell anything. … she most certainly does not smell my candles or anything at all,” Alfaro says.
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Desiree Gutierrez is a music and culture intern at the Dallas Observer. Equipped with her education from Dallas College Brookhaven Campus and the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism, Desiree has transformed the ability to overthink just about anything into a budding career in journalism.