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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.

February 19, 2014 — 11:24 pm
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