Customers are flooding Amazon with Yankee Candle reviews that say the candles have no scent.
The negative reviews seem to coincide with a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by 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 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 US.
—Nick Beauchamp (@nick_beauchamp) December 22, 2021
A spokesperson for Yankee Candle didn't 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 that said the candles had no scent tripling during the same period, the Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham reported.
Still, both Beauchamp and Petrova have said that while this data seemed 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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