Category Archives: October 2015

Scentual

By Alanna Anderson and Amelia Lowry

Fall is in the air and in our lattes, and there’s no denying that distinct autumn scent that blows in the wind.  The people at Yankee Candle know this best, and will collect thousands of dollars this season alone with scents like, “November Rain”, and “Autumn in the Park”.

Something smells fishy here, and it isn’t just a candle.

For those of us who have had or are evil siblings, we know the old catch-a-smell-in-the-jar trick, and we can’t be fooled twice. There is no way that they could capture the autumn air in a jar and mix it into wax, right? These sneaky labels must be taking familiar scents associated with fall and claiming them to be something they aren’t — and it happens right under our noses. That is, of course, unless Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle are actually powered by super-human, malicious siblings who have mastered the art of trapping the smelly air inside a container, but our sources beg to differ.

There are many scents that our noses automatically categorize under a common fall-theme. Pumpkins, for instance, are almost always seen as a fun October activity — whole days are devoted to going to the pumpkin patch and picking out the best pumpkin in all of the land. After we snatch them from their comfortable homes in the dirt, we make them into pumpkin pies, roast their pumpkin seeds, slice and butcher them into Jack-o-Lanterns, and even squash up their innards for use in a pumpkin-spice latte. Cinnamon and apples have frequented their visits in seasonal scents as well. Finally, there’s nothing that screams fall more than a nice, smoky bonfire — but this can be achieved with a fairly small amount of effort considering the candle itself is on fire.

And, as it is, many of these familiar scents have been adopted by brands and given abstract names, when they really all smell the same. Bath & Body Works in particular has a penchant for apple-smelling perfumes and lotions, and the overuse of apples goes unnoticed once it is in its incognito form. While we understand that names such as “Crisp Morning Air”, “Bright Autumn Day” and “Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin” all give the illusion of smelling independently, each must consist of apple– straight to the core.

At least these fragrances have distinguishable contents. In some cases, candles have many more layers than what appears on the surface. Names like “Flannel” can be misleading– believe it or not, flannel candles don’t smell like cotton, and they don’t smell like elderly men from the smoky streets of Hagerstown.  It does, however, smell like the boys’ changing room in gym class. Not that we’ve been in there often…

What does a mountamlodgein lodge smell like to you? We were thinking it might smell like pines, maybe even bonfire-esque. Even the scent of fresh bed sheets washed with woodsy detergent would have been acceptable. In reality, “Mountain Lodge” by Yankee Candle also smells like an adolescent locker room and much more like the Hollister store than we feel is appropriate. It seems more logical that one would bring an axe on a trip to a cabin in the woods opposed to a can of Axe (how would you go about chopping wood with that?) but hey, you never know. “Sweater Weather” by Bath & Body Works doesn’t smell like Goodwill, and it doesn’t smell like The Neighbourhood, but it does smell a lot like a tree and that raises its own questions.

Some seasonal scents are less abstract, but they’re just as shameful as their artsy-fartsy co
unterparts solely because of the goofy commercialism behind them. A solid example of this so-called goofy commercialism would be the Mandle, or man candle– invented especially for people who think that candles have genders. These Mandles are the epitome of masculinity– there are no ‘manlier’ candles than bacon-scented candles and plywood-scented candles, after all. In other words, we see you toxic masculinity, we see you. As if this wasn’t disappointing enough, the Mandle called “On Tap” smells exactly like horse pee– just like beer.  

This could easily turn into a game: the objective would be to get a
fun, effervescent candle that would smell nice and make your home more seasonal, but first you have to pass the societal pressures and accept the fact that smelling good doesn’t belong to either gender binary.

Overall, you shouldn’t let a fragrance company get in the way of your autumn. Go outside, smell the November Rain and the Crisp Morning Air. Don’t believe everything you smell in a candle store. Better yet, buy what you want, whether you especially enjoy the scent of apples or if smelling plywood does it for you. Happy sniffing!

Alanna Anderson and Amelia Lowry are both Sophomores at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts