BLOG: A Letter… of sorts… to Yankee Candle Co.

AJ Dome, Washburn Review

Dear Yankee Candle Company,

I’m sure you hear this a lot. I’m even certain that somewhere in your organization is a person paid hourly to keep track of letters like this one, so I’ll make this as interesting and snarky as possible. My goal is to get your attention.

Your candles are sexist and unoriginal, and I am indeed offended by the unfortunate mix of odors wafting through any of your numerous stores, out into the food courts of malls where I am trying to sit and eat my meal in peace and not think about the horrors that lie ahead in a shopping-filled day with the female species. And then, I drag myself through your doorway as an innocent man would be drug to the guillotine. Just decapitate me already. Or better yet, lop off my nose so that it won’t be continuously ruined by the smell.

Yes, I hate the whole experience. I hate your store so much, that I love it.

Do I have you attention yet?

Allow me to explain. First, the issue of sexism. You have available a total of four “manly” scents. Just four. Yet you have a hundred bajillion other candle scents that are not strictly labeled as “manly,” even though I (being of stout manhood) enjoy some of them. Why not clump stuff like “Baked Apple Pie” and “Dune Grass” (which smells like a dryer sheet) under this category of “man” scents? Or at least get your scent designer working hard on more manly candles, without the silly vague names.

Fact: males make up 35 percent of the candle market. As a red-blooded man, I feel a bit offended by not only the lack of variety, but also the names of these four scents–and hell, the scents themselves. For starters, I am allergic to grass, so making a scent vaguely reminiscent of a freshly-mowed lawn just sucks. It smells like a used dryer sheet.

Next is a scent called “2×4,” which smells similar to freshly-cut wood. This is okay, if you have never actually smelled freshly-cut wood. I know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but make it a quality imitation, not some woody-smelling goo in a jar that is about as close to the real thing as I am to being a millionaire, or the Westboro Baptist Church being taken seriously in the world. It’s never going to happen.

The other two scents are so vague and horrid that I cannot even remember what they’re named. One of them is “Man Zone” or “Man Room” or something like that, because they can’t actually call it “Man Cave” (it’s a copyrighted phrase). This smells like men’s cologne, which isn’t half bad, but the name is misleading. A true man’s zone doesn’t smell like the cologne their wives buy them for their birthday. A true man zone smells like sweat, dust, old pizza and the remnants of that keg party you had a week ago. Yeah, nothing like Ralph Lauren Cologne.

If it were up to me–and I’ll explain later why it should be up to me–to decide what kind of manly scents should be in your lineup, I’d start with the basics. I’d ask all the men I know what they like to do. Right off the top of my head, I can think of these things: grill burgers, work on cars, play in the dirt/sand/water, drink beer, play rough-and-tumble sports, shoot guns, ponder the vast land in which they live, spend time with their families, and laugh heartily. They’re all Renaissance men of some sort, so how does one appeal to their sensibilities?

First, determine the smells. I like the smell of gunpowder and gun-cleaning oil, so make a candle that smells like you just fired your old blunderbuss a few times. Call it “Gunpowder and Lead” (thanks to Amy at Topeka Yankee Candle for coming up with that name!), and it’ll definitely sell.

A couple other manly scents I can think of: old gasoline and axle grease, and grilled meat. Call the gasoline & grease one “Dad’s Garage,” and call the other one “Summer Cookout.” Then sell them according to seasonal and target audience changes, and you’re golden.

I think I’d be pretty good at this. Actually, I know there’s people in your company that get paid to think up new scents and names, so where do I apply for that job? I’d love to do that. It’d be easy, fun, rewarding, and a little bit ironic for me.

Here are my qualifications:

1. I am a young man, so while I haven’t smelled everything, I would travel the world to experience new odors. Then I would come back, and voila! New products.

2. I represent the male species, so I’d primarily come up with “dude scents.” “Gunpowder and Lead” will be my first official new product. You’re welcome guys.

3. I have quite a bit of experience coming up with new ideas and pitching them, so those dull staff meetings would cease to be boring with me in-house.

If you want to know anything else, simply ask me. I’d love to hear from a Yankee Candle representative about this kind of job. And please take my rant into consideration, but don’t let it discourage you from hiring me. If I did work for your company, I would represent it with class and gentlemanly standards. I’d be the PR department’s favorite person ever.

If that doesn’t work out, I’d like to work in one of your stores. I think that’d be badass. I’d make fun of the products all day, and in the process get customers to leave satisfied with their purchase. It doesn’t sound like it would work, but keep reading. My approach to the job would be different from what’s expected, and that would work to Yankee Candle’s advantage. You can’t be a sourpuss and work in a candle store. However, nowhere does it say anything about having a love-hate relationship with the product. I’d have my little sarcasm-filled comedy routine down for the customers, and they’d leave happy, and with less money in their pocket. It’s the perfect plan.

Suddenly the store wouldn’t seem so sexist, and people would view the product in a different light–one without pretentious bias toward one particular scent or style of candle. Like I’ve been repeating earlier, half of your stuff smells like dryer sheets, and the other half smells somewhat like what it’s advertised as. Bring me into your company, and you wouldn’t get any more letters like what this one started out as.

Problem, meet solution.

Now do I have your attention? I’m looking forward to hearing from you, Yankee Candle.


AJ Dome

P.S.  Baked Apple Pie is the best candle ever.