Roughly four years ago, I was hard at work on a candle review story. A rigorous job that requires stamina, focus, and intense fasting—but I was up for the task. Somewhere between the very expected Santal variations and the even more expected white florals, I lit up a submission that we lovingly began to refer to as "the salad candle." Its main note was basil and, for the most part, we refrained from letting it burn too long. It smelled...exactly like a caprese salad. The sillage drew questions like, "What's that smell? Is that basil?" The office didn't know what to do with it. Love? Hate? Whichever it was, we certainly weren't ready.
Fast forward to present day and I'm shopping at Cire Trudon in NoLiTa for a new desk candle. (Probably not a particularly conscientious thing to have at any old office, but this is Big Beauty, baby, and we have smells coming out of every conference room, closet, and cubicle.) I decide on Abd El Kader, described as a mix between mint tea, fresh ginger, and tobacco. My kind of scent scene. I walk it back to the office, excited to bestow this gift of fragrance upon my colleagues.
It's not until our next editorial meeting when we have a chance to light it. It's less fresh mint tea and way more salad candle from days of yore. Not exactly what I was expecting, but refreshingly diffusive and a nice change from those sandalwoods and white florals. What was even less expected was the flock of people congregating outside our meeting roughly 20 minutes after burning started. Picture that part in Mother!. (You know the part.) The salad candle was a hit! The perfect non-scent—familiar, but not too done. Effective, but not occlusive. Elegantly green but comfortingly homely. And nothing like you've ever smelled before. Except a caprese salad. Which is always a good idea if you're not sure what to order. If only we'd better understood it years ago. Better late than never.
Photo by Tom Newton.