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Scent is very closely tied to memory. That’s why when you smell cookies baking in the oven, you might feel like you’re back in your kitchen helping your grandma decorate cookies with icing and sprinkles.
But what about the scents of more abstract things like “home” and even geographic locations like New York?
Homesick candles range from the hilarious to the sentimental, with unique scents that may not smell exactly like home, but perhaps an idealized version of it.
What are Homesick candles?
Candle company Homesick polled people around the U.S. to find out what home smelled like to them to develop customized scents for each city and state, as well as experiences. The results range from the celebratory — like Let’s Toast, which includes citrus and Champagne grapes — to the more sentimental — like Love Letters, which includes notes of rose, jasmine, sandalwood, peony, red plum, and lemon.
Each candle is made from all-natural soy wax, which is then hand-poured into a glass container. The simple black and white labels are minimal, and let you know what candle you’re smelling. The candles come in cute, colorful packaging, making them ready to gift to anyone who wants a whiff of nostalgia in their home away from home.
Homesick’s candles are reasonably priced starting at $34, and orders over $59 will get free shipping.
What Homesick candles actually smell like
We tested a few of its candles and found that some of the scents transported us “home,” while others smelled lovely, but not quite like the places we imagined. Here are our team’s thoughts on each candle we tried.
As denizens of New York City, the Insider Reviews team typically remembers the malodorous smells we catch a whiff on the street rather than the candle’s idealistic “scents of spring days in Central Park, fine department stores, and concrete.”
Senior reporter Mara Leighton said it best when she described the candle as “what New York smells like in your dreams before you actually move here.” The candle smells a lot like Macy’s in Herald Square, and is infinitely preferable to the iffy smell of the city streets and the subway.
When I burned the NYC candle in my apartment, it smelled amazing. The gentle scent made my entire apartment smell great, and it burned evenly.
Senior home & kitchen editor Lauren Savoie purchased the United Kingdom candle after a bout of nostalgia for her time living across the pond. The candle is advertised as smelling like bergamot, grass, rain, Earl Grey tea, apple crumb, toffee, vanilla, and sugar. While the candle smelled pleasant, Savoie said it didn’t exactly smell like how she imagined. “This one was much more sweet than it was hoppy or grassy like I imagine the U.K. to be. While it was lovely to burn, I can’t say it transported me back to my days stomping down London’s streets,” she said.
Health & fitness editor Rachel Shultz owns the Ski Trip candle with notes of frosted air, cocoa, and warm amber. “As someone who lives in a ski town, it didn’t smell distinctly themed to me (but what does snow and fun smell like?), but it does smell delicious regardless,” she said.
Senior story producer Francesca Rea owns the Let’s Toast candle, which is packed with citrusy Champagne notes. “I actually really liked the scent but I did think it was pretty strong,” she said. Though Rea didn’t mind the prominent scent, others might find it a bit overpowering. We think this candle would make a great gift for anyone celebrating a special milestone like an engagement or promotion.
Travel editor Hannah Freedman is a New Mexico native, and while she enjoyed the smell of this candle, it didn’t quite hit all the marks of home. (“Where is the juniper or pinon??”)
This one was the biggest miss of the candles our team tried, with Freedman reporting it smells “like soap,” and not in a good way.
If you don’t like candles because of the fire risk, you may prefer Homesick’s reed diffuser. The glass bottle has four ounces of essential oils that saturate reeds for a lovely scent, and you can choose from several different Homesick oils that smell the same as the brand’s candles.
Should you buy Homesick candles?
While not all of us felt a sent of nostalgia associated with the Homesick candles we tried, we still think they make excellent gifts. Scent is deeply personal, and what smells like home to one person may not to another.
What we particularly like about Homesick candles is the sentiment they convey. Selecting a scent specifically for your giftee that acknowledges their current circumstances feels much more personal than choosing a generic candle. Senior story producer Francesca Rea gifted a Connecticut candle to a friend stationed in Germany when he missed his first Christmas at home and reports he was really moved by the sentiment. Even if the candle’s scent doesn’t transport your giftee home, the simple act of receiving such a curated gift will make them feel a connection to the place they’re missing.
At $34, Homesick candles are reasonably priced so you can gift them for every occasion. College students and new-ish grown-ups who are just getting started in a new city or state will love the nostalgia factor, and anyone who likes candles will appreciate how well made they are.