18 May, 2012

Sniff Test: MAN CANDLES by Yankee Candles

Two days ago, the news broke that Yankee Candles had begun marketing a line of candles to men, imaginatively called "Man Candles."

Lynnafred and I were heading up to Greenfield, and Yankee Candle's home store in Deerfield MA happens to be right off of I-91 on our way, so we decided to stop in and see what these Man Candles were all about.

Yankee Candles in Deerfield is a "destination store," as well as a popular stopping point for vacationers traveling north to Vermont, so it's usually packed. We were lucky on this early Friday morning to find few customers.

Not many customers. Tons of candles, though.
The place is a maze of showrooms. We wandered around for a while before finally giving up and asking a very friendly sales associate for help.  On the way to the store, Lynnafred and I were joking about the Man Candles, calling them "Mandels." So of course, when I inquired about them, I asked the sales associate where we could find the "Mandels...uh, sorry, I mean the Man Candles." She took it in stride, though, and just laughed and pointed the way.

We would never have found it without her help. Yankee Candles has about a billion square feet of retail space here, with multiple duplicate displays scattered here and there grouped by theme. But the Man Candle display is this small, 4-foot by 4-foot cluster in one of the side rooms. It really was rather underwhelming. Since just about every other scent in the store was represented by sixteen thousand candles each and the Man Candles were lucky to show a couple dozen in the frontages, we guessed that Yankee is gingerly dipping their toe into the testosterone pool here.

The sales associate (whom I am going to call "Helen" from now on to protect her identity) offered us whiffs of each of the candles, along with some surprisingly frank personal assessments of each one, before leaving us to our own devices.  Here's what we thought of the new Man Candles:

Man Town

Yankee Candles' Catalog Says: Escape to the man cave with this masculine blend of spices, woods, and musk.

Helen Says: "It reminds me of the cologne a stationery salesman would wear."

Our Impression:  Lynnafred and I took a snort of the fragrance, looked at each other, and said - both at the same time - "It smells just like Axe!"  before breaking out in laughter. I don't know what we expected, though I imagine a place called "Man Town" would smell more like old pizza boxes, sweat socks, stale beer, and crotch.

Riding Mower

Yankee Candles' Catalog Says: Hot sun. Cool breeze. And the intensely summery scent of freshly cut grass.

Helen Says: "This is one of my favorites."

Our Impression: Very grassy aroma, but more like a freshly cut field than a suburban lawn. The smell I experience from freshly cut grass has fruity, almost watermelon-like notes to it.

Wandering the store, we found another fragrance YK calls "Green Grass" with the description, "Nothing says summer like the familiar heady scent of a freshly cut lawn." The only difference between Riding Mower and Green Grass, besides the name and arguably more masculine label design on the Man Candle, was a touch of perfuminess in Green Grass.

First Down

Yankee Candles' Catalog Says: Game on! This combination of orange, patchouli, vetiver, and leather is as exciting as game day.

Helen Says: "It smells like leather and sweat."

Our Impression: Leather, yes, but not just any leather. First Down really does evoke the smell of a well-used, well-oiled football. Unfortunately, the rest of the fragrances combine to smell like an electrical fire.

Also, patchouli's association with hippies totally disqualifies it as a men's fragrance.

 2 x 4

Yankee Candles' Catalog Says: The warm, unmistakable scent of freshly planed wood and sawdust evokes a sense of confidence and quality.

Helen Says: "This one really needs tweaking. It doesn't smell like sawdust at all."

Our Impression:  2 x 4s are usually pine or spruce, and so the sawdust that results from framing a shed or building a workbench generally smells woody, a bit resinous, and a little like freshly grated nutmeg. The smell of genuine sawdust and shavings is one of my favorite things. And Helen is right - these candles don't even come close. There is a strong woodiness to the scent, but it's an "old barn" smell, not "freshly planed wood."

If I were going to buy any of these candles, it would probably be "Riding Mower." It has the most authentic of the aromas. Even at that, I don't think I like it enough to spend thirty bucks on it. I'll just go outside and cut the lawn.


Leeanne said...

Ahhhh, been waiting for this post. Awesome. Thanks to your nose for taking one for the team.

As an aside, I love that you and Lynnafred do these kinds of father-daughter outings. You sound like the coolest dad.

Michael said...

Why did they go halfway with 2 x 4 fragrance when they could have gone with 4 x 4 fragrance - gasoline, burnt rubber, and plastic upholstery?