Insider, December 2021
Yankee Candle reviews on Amazon may be the latest indicator of COVID’s surge nationwide. Some customers who recently purchased from the scented-candle brand using Amazon are flooding the site with negative reviews that say the candles have a barely noticeable scent or no scent at all. While many reviewers gave the candles five stars and described a strong scent reminiscent of Christmas trees, others said they couldn’t smell anything or could only smell burning wax.
“I’ve bought this candle before, and the fragrance would fill the room. This one barely has a scent. Boo,” said one December 20 review for Yankee Candle’s balsam and cedar scent. “No scent whatsoever unless you face-plant into the glass vessel. Burned it for eight hours and, ta-da, NO fragrance,” another reviewer wrote on December 19. But the candles may not be the problem. Those customers may have lost their sense of smell, a symptom of COVID-19.
Loss of smell, known as anosmia, has become one of the defining symptoms of COVID. While some people regain the ability to smell upon recovering from COVID, others report being unable to smell for months, or even a year, after having COVID.
Nick Beauchamp, an assistant professor of political science at Northeastern University, charted the complaints for the top three Yankee Candles on Amazon. He tracked when the negative reviews began and how much those complaints increased per week. His graph showed a sharp spike around December, just as the Omicron variant led to a new wave of COVID cases in the U.S.