Spike in negative candle reviews may be tied to COVID-19

The average customer ratings for scented candles on Amazon fell in 2020, a trend that may correlate to Americans losing their loss of smell due to COVID-19, reports The Washington Post.

Terri Nelson, a Portland-based science illustrator, first suggested a potential correlation between the pandemic and negative candle reviews in a Nov. 24 tweet: "There are angry ladies all over Yankee Candle's site reporting that none of the candles they just got had any smell at all," she wrote.

The observation spurred Kate Petrova, a research assistant with the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Bryn Mawr (Pa.) College, to analyze about 20,000 Amazon reviews for scented and unscented candles as a personal research project.

She found reviews for the top-rated scented candles fell by about one full star rating in 2020 compared to prior years. Ms. Petrova did not find a similar trend for unscented candle reviews. The amount of scented candle reviews containing phrases like "can't smell" or "no scent" increased from 2 percent in January to 6 percent in November. 

The finding offers "strongly suggestive" evidence that Americans experiencing a loss of smell due to COVID-19 may be writing more negative candle reviews this year, according to the Post. However, Ms. Petrova said her analysis should be taken as "a fun exercise at data visualization — not a peer-reviewed study."

To read the full article, click here.

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