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And then there’s this…

So I missed this at Christmas, somehow: The Stinky Candle Company. It’s a startup in suburban Chicago that specializes in candles with…unusual fragrances. Gasoline, car exhaust, body odor (if I lit a candle that smelled like gasoline, I bet I’d run around in circles going, “omigod, omigod, omigod!” until somebody threw a bucket of water over me).

I often wonder what becomes of a company like this, built entirely around a novelty idea. Once the novelty goes, what’s its staying power?

I think they see that coming, though. Not all of the candles are truly stinky. There are…I’d say neutral-to-arguably-pleasant smells like dill pickles, leather, wood, number two pencils and fireworks. And there are some distinctly nice scented ones like fast food, chicken, wine, coconut or blueberries. Whether these things truly smell like those things, I couldn’t say.

Luca Turin says that the people who create scents for household products like candles, detergent or (especially) foodstuffs have the hardest job in the scent industry. That’s because their stuff has to be non-toxic, cheap, available in bulk and pleasant to smell. That’s a lot to ask of a chemical.

If I haven’t already, let me recommend Turin’s book The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell. I’m not even all that into smells, and I found this a really interesting read.

And no, that’s not because civet cats are mustelids, like weasels. They are, in fact, viverrids, like mongooses.


Comment from Can’tHarkMyCry
Time: February 19, 2014, 11:36 pm

Definitely a unique concept!
(All my candles smell like honey; that’s one of the nice things about beeswax!)

Comment from dissent555
Time: February 20, 2014, 12:34 am

Wow. that’s not too far from me. I’ll have to check that out the next time I get over towards the Oak Brook mall.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: February 20, 2014, 1:21 am

Now I want some pickle juice. Yum!

Comment from Oceania
Time: February 20, 2014, 3:36 am

Sub human mongreaals?



Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 20, 2014, 4:09 am

I don’t think that most of this kind of novelty item are really intended to be used, or at least not by the purchaser.

They are the gift-equivalent of putting a whoopie cushion on someone’s chair. People give them to other people as gifts under the misconception that it’s (somehow) funny to do so.

Note that the whoopie cushion is somehow still around even after 75 years or so.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: February 20, 2014, 2:17 pm

Their leather and their Timber! candles don’t sound bad.

Hey, I live with two cats, one of whom likes to eat shredded squid (gack!). Almost anything would be better than that.

Though if you want something really nice, check out http://www.inscents.com/ I’ve been using their Southwest-scented incense sticks for years. None of that cloying stuff you find in head shops, now: these actually smell like pinon wood or juniper. Good stuff.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: February 20, 2014, 2:53 pm

Nam pla might be kinda good.

Comment from MikeW
Time: February 20, 2014, 3:56 pm

Hmm, nothing really says romance like that bacon scented candle. “Oh, Baby! You know what I like.”

A bit OT, but I thought of this place when I spotted the clip at 7:35 in this half hour Waste-of-Life(tm) animal compilation video:

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 20, 2014, 5:14 pm

For years I’ve been calling for men’s products to smell manly instead of flowery. Underarm deodorant, aftershave, etc. Should smell like cut grass, leather, motor oil, unburnt tobacco, that kind of thing. Not flowers and spices.

Comment from Bikeboy
Time: February 20, 2014, 5:36 pm

They’ll get merged into one of the good-smelling candle companies.

Jelly Belly, famous for making all those delicious jelly beans… made more famous by Ronald Reagan, who always had a big jar (assorted)… also makes unpleasant-tasting jelly beans: vomit, earwax, stinky socks, etc. So apparently there’s a market for the icky.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: February 21, 2014, 2:48 am

I often wonder what becomes of a company like this, built entirely around a novelty idea. Once the novelty goes, what’s its staying power?

There’s a similar question that applies to startup companies in tech fields that are based on some invention.

The usual method for cashing in on an invention is to form a company, manufacture the product, and sell it at a high markup. The invention can generate large sales at high margin now. Now there’s a company with substantial and growing profits. The company goes public and the founders (and their venture capitalist backers) cash in.

But in not that many years the product will be obsolete, and sales and profits will dry up. Venture capitalists want to know “What will the company do then?”

And in many cases the start-up founders have no real answer except “Invent something else”.

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