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Dr. Jorge Caballero generated plenty of heat earlier this month by equating poor Yankee Candle reviews to a Covid surge. His logic: many of the reviewers were complaining that they couldn’t smell anything from their candles, despite Yankee Candle offering everything from sharp citrus scents to cherry blossom-style picks. With loss of smell being one of the prime symptoms of Covid, Caballero declared that “Yankee Candle reviews indicate that Covid is about [to] surge again.”
The tweet, which has has amassed more than 23,000 retweets and 146,000 likes as of this writing, drew immediate reactions from both medical professionals and users alike, with many calling out Caballero for drawing a dangerous parallel between candles and Covid.
Caballero himself cited a study released in June by Northeastern professor Nick Beauchamp, which found that “For every 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per week, ‘no smell’ reviews increased by a quarter of a percentage point in the next week.”
Medical professionals though, have called out Caballero’s tweet for setting a dangerous precedent. “There is no evidence that negative Yankee candle reviews are an indication that Covid is back on the rise,” says Dr. Robin Kim, an Associate Director of Emergency Medicine in New York City.
According to Kim, “There are many common causes of olfactory dysfunction aside from Covid,” which can include things like nasal polyps, upper respiratory infections like rhinovirus, or the flu. “Additionally,” he adds, “the current Omicron strain of Covid is associated less with loss of smell than previous strains.”
And while some data suggests that Covid may be back on the rise, Kim stresses that “there is not enough evidence to say that negative Yankee Candle reviews are an accurate indicator for the prevalence of Covid. We should continue to follow actual data points and epidemiological data,” he says.
Yankee Candle has not directly addressed the Covid claims, but a rep for the company tells Rolling Stone there are a number of reasons why you may not be getting the full fragrance of your candle.
“Yankee Candle has always been known for our bold fragrance and we have a few pro tips to ensure that consumers enjoy a robust candle experience,” shares Lisa McCarthy, President of the Home Fragrance Business Unit, Newell Brands. For starters, McCarthy says users should “Let your candle burn until the entire top layer becomes a pool of liquid wax from edge to edge before extinguishing it for the boldest fragrance.”
“This is especially important the first time you light a new candle,” she tells Rolling Stone. “It helps prevent tunneling and uneven burns in the future.”
Another reason why your Yankee Candle could be “losing” its smell? “We recommend protecting your candle from drafts,” McCarthy says. “Avoid placing your burning candle by open windows, in high traffic areas, or near heating vents. This will ensure that the candle’s fragrance doesn’t get dispersed too quickly and it will promote a more even burn.”
While reviews have gone back up on Yankee Candle’s Amazon page (it’s seasonal “Autumn Wreath” scented candles boast 5-star reviews from 81% of users for example), McCarthy says the company always monitors customer feedback to make sure their candles are smelling right.
“We have an amazing group of fragrance experts to ensure we continue to deliver the same true-to-life fragrances for our consumers,” she says.
And while Yankee Candle was thrust into a national conversation about viruses, the company may ironically come out healthier than ever. Yankee Candles always find popularity during the holidays, and McCarthy says it’s no different this year.
“The holiday season is one of our favorite times of the year,” she says. “So many of our iconic fragrances are linked to consumers’ holiday traditions and we’re honored to be a part of that.”
And if you’re prepping for the holidays and still can’t smell your candles, the move might not be to take time to write a review — you may just want to take a Covid test.