Get Waxxed

Are People Unable to Smell Their Yankee Candles Suffering From COVID?

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that so far though the pandemic, social media has usually gotten ahead of the curve in detecting coronavirus spread before positive case numbers and reports confirm a surge.

One way of doing that, apparently, is now Yankee Candles.

I was as confused as you are, and honestly, I still kind of am. But apparently, users on Twitter have noticed a trend from reviews on Yankee Candle-brand products which often mention one thing in common: the reviewers claiming the products they received didn’t have scents.

Whether it’s on Amazon, the Yankee Candle website itself, or other websites to purchase or review the products, apparently people buying or receiving Yankee Candles don’t realize they may be experiencing loss of the sense of smell, a symptom caused by contracting and battling coronavirus infections. Are the reviewers unaware, in denial, refusing to believe coronavirus is to blame here, or a combination of all of the above?

Considering that Yankee Candles have a reputation for overbearing scents, it’s certainly plausible. However, it turns out this is not as cut and dry of a case as it may seem. Take this batch of Yankee Candle reviews on candles on Amazon, as noticed by @DrewToothpaste:

If you look closely, you’ll notice that almost all of these reviews are regarding the Balsam & Cedar Candle. A review of one of the large candles on Yankee Candle’s website looks similarly, but there are also complaints about the lack of smell more than two years ago, before coronavirus (or at least, before its known discovery in the United States.)

So while coronavirus might be a link here, is there also a correlation with a lack of quality by Yankee Candle as of late? Based on their website, Yankee Candle stans are inclined to buy into the latter over the former.

Whether there may be something to that or not, the data still presents an overwhelming case in favor of a common link between inability to smell Yankee Candles and coronavirus cases.

Northeastern University professor Nick Beauchamp provided the Twitterverse with some charts to illustrate it:

As this chart shows, there was a spike in reviews mentioning ‘no smell’ or ‘no scent’ last winter, too. But that can be attributed to a rise in reviews due to the holiday season, when people are more likely to buy Yankee Candle products, use them and/or share their thoughts on them – especially if they have a negative experience with it.

So Beauchamp whipped up another one that better illustrates the data here: instead of average review complaints per week, he uses the percentage of reviews per week that have the complaints. That way, the total number of reviews isn’t the correlating indicator, but the amount of reviews being made that mention ‘no smell’ or ‘no scent.’

 But again, as Beauchamp notes, there is evidence that this isn’t solely a COVID era issue. Prior to 2020, there were ‘no smell’ complaints – less of them, yes, but still some – which goes toward the argument that the pandemic isn’t solely to blame for bad candle using experiences.

There’s more charts, by the way. We’re not going to try to explain it all, because frankly, we don’t have statisticians on our editorial staff. But numbers, evidence, data!

So of course, this is still the internet. That means that the issue gets blown up and becomes our favorite little thing: discourse!

The Twitterverse is now waning (get it?) in and out of debate about how seriously to take this information. Some people think this indicates that a bunch of candle users are naïve people who are just unaware of coronavirus symptoms and simply assume they have gotten bad batches of candles. Others are arguing that this is just a small percentage of random people on the internet that becomes more frequent due to the holidays. Some also point out that it may be a lot of people that may assume they’re not suffering from coronavirus, but actually are.

As usual, this discourse is actually not new. When this exact same thing came up last year, there were several media outlets that actually picked up on it and looked into it. Mediaite, Newsweek, and the Washington Post were among them.

Terri Nelson bought it to our attention, November before last:

Also with charts! This time from Stanford/Harvard scientist Kate Petrova:

The Post, basing much of their information on Petrova’s charts, concluded last year: “The data collected by Petrova amounts to what social scientists might call ‘strongly suggestive’ evidence that people unknowingly infected with the coronavirus are dragging reviews of some scented products down. However, she cautions against reading too much into it.”

This year, they might be inclined to reach the same end result.


So what’s the truth? Are candles really good indicators of coronavirus symptoms? Do we need to do a mass candle survey? Where does Chesapeake Bay stand on this? Glade? Is Big Candle out to shield their production issues by getting this narrative out there? (Full disclosure, I own no stocks in candle-related corporations… I think?)

Whatever the truthful answer may be, this is a good opportunity for us to examine how much we don’t know about the virus and how drastically the pandemic has affected our lives. Loss of the sense of smell can last for months, even without other coronavirus symptoms or after a COVID case subsides. Also, Long COVID is a thing. Also, despite the vaccine and advances in treatment, coronavirus can have real effects on people, and most won’t be as miniscule as being unhappy with a candle.

As always, though, the internet is at its best when it is at its least serious. And this is a great topic for holiday jokes. Enjoy:

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