That New Halloween Smell

September 14, 2010 — I'm only really into scented candles during the holidays. The rest of the year I'm okay with the miasma of beef jerky, plastic resin, and aquarium water that my life generally exudes. I don’t even own an aquarium. When this time of year rolls around on its candy gut-laden haunches and I do go buy scented candles, I always go to the Yankee Candles store. For all the wrong reasons.

In my experience, Yankee Candles aren’t exactly the best candles on the market. I’m pretty sure I’ve had stronger-smelling, longer-lasting, much less expensive ones before. I guess you can tell that Yankee Candles is not sponsoring this blog post. However, they do Halloween right, and apparently that’s all that matters to me and my obnoxious dollar-symbol-shaped money clip. From the names of their candles (witch’s brew, cider web, spiced pumpkin, autumn wreath, etc.) to the range of Halloween candle accessories, visiting a Yankee Candle store is an early-season tradition and one of the general harbingers of Fall.

It’s also one of the more important. After all, smell is the sense most connected to memory, and memory-making is what holidays are all about. Why that’s not the permanent ad campaign of every single scented-product business is beyond me.

Anyway, as a result, every year we take out a loan from the bank and buy a few Yankee candles. Then we try to burn them into black and orange puddles over the next two months so that we can do it all again in a year since buying the candles is slightly more fun than burning them. Incidentally, my insurance company should really hike my home premiums during this time of year.

I’ve got to admit, Yankee candles seems to be going all out for Halloween this year, doing more for the holiday than I’ve seen them do in recent years. First off, they’re bringing back their Boney Bunch line of accessories, with all new products. These are basically candle-holding costumed ceramic skeletons with big eyes and toothy smiles that seem to suggest they aren’t aware that their lot in life is solely comprised of a month of fire holding and 11 months of musty storage.

They’re also selling a line of pumpkin-headed scarecrow items called Pumpkin Pals, for those who inexplicably like their Autumns less ghoulish, and a special tea light holder in the shape of a raven perched on a bony hand holding a cauldron in its palm (do skeleton hands still have palms?). We definitely picked one of those up. It’s the type of thing I would’ve skipped had I seen it in a Spencer’s, but really dug in the classier setting of a Yankee Candle store. Plus, I think it’s a Halloween decoration that’s going to be promoted to year-rounder in my study. Yankee also has a series of three spook-themed wine bottle tea light holders with etched-on labels that read Wicked, Skeleton Crew Brew, and Sleepy Hollow Winery. Had they been sold individually, I might have picked up the Sleepy Hollow one. The headless horseman might be my favorite Halloween spook.

All this in addition to a range of Halloween-themed jar shades, votive holders, and other creepy candle miscellany. Oh, and of course they regularly introduce new candle scents or new labels for old candle scents, which is another reason to buy candles from them. Yearly innovation…although I’m not sure how many different versions of candy corn, apple, pumpkin and patchouli they can come up with. Pretty sure they ran out years ago and just keep fooling me with flashy labels.

By the end of August, when I scouted for the above paragraphs, they were in full Halloween regalia, with signage, tons of stock in prominent store space, and even some kind of event that included a raffle and an interactive mystery game. Other than my impulse purchase of the skeleton hand, we ignored it all. I’m ridiculous for starting all this Halloween hoopla in September, but I refuse to be ridiculous for starting it in August. In all aspects of my life, my standards are randomly implemented.

That was apparently a mistake this year.

I dropped by Yankee yesterday…September 13…more than a month and a half from October 31…and Halloween was already over there. They’d moved on to harvest or Thanksgiving or something. All the Boney Bunch signage was down and the remnants of their hardcore Halloween stock was crammed onto a single table away from the display windows. They must be on some accelerated calendar that I just haven’t adopted yet. Fortunately, by my calculations, that means that should complete the full circuit of holidays and be back at Halloween by October 31. Hopefully your Yankee Candle is less flighty.

Regardless, this year we left the store with a large jar of spiced pumpkin and another of apple cider to scent our Fall season, in addition to the aforementioned skeleton hand/raven tea light holder. For those of you keeping track, that's $4,000 worth of scented wax and ceramic. I badly need to rethink this tradition.

See you at Christmas time, Yankee Candles.