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Customers are flooding Yankee Candle’s Amazon reviews claiming the candles have no scent, but the surge in Omicron cases may be to blame

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • Customers are flooding Amazon with Yankee Candle reviews that claim the candles have no scent.
  • But the negative reviews seem to coincide with a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.
  • Loss of smell, known as anosmia, is a main symptom of COVID.

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 claim 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 that 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,” one December 20 review for a Yankee Candle’s balsam and cedar scent said.

“No scent whatsoever unless you face-plant into the glass vessel. Burned it for eight hours and, ta-da, NO fragrance,” another review wrote on December 19.

But the candles may not be the problem — those customers may have just 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 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, tracking when the negative reviews began and how much those complaints increased per week. His graph shows a sharp spike around December 2021, just as the Omicron variant led to a new wave of COVID cases in the US. 

—Nick Beauchamp (@nick_beauchamp) December 22, 2021

A spokesperson for Yankee Candle did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the reviews.

This isn’t the first time candle reviews have predicted a virus surge. Last winter, Kate Petrova, a researcher at Bryn Mawr College, found that reviews of the top scented candles on Amazon dropped about one full star between January 2020 and November 2020, with the proportion of reviews claiming the candles had no scent tripling during the same period, the Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham reported. 

Still, both Beauchamp and Petrova have warned that while this data seems like evidence of a COVID surge, it shouldn’t be treated like a scientific study.

“I wouldn’t take this too seriously,” Beauchamp tweeted. “Even looking at percentages, there seems to be a seasonal surge in ‘no smell’ each winter.” 

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