Field Trip: Yankee Candle Co.
Somwhere in between Manchester, NH and Hartford, CT, you will find lots of signs on the highway directing you to the Yankee Candle Company flagship store and, um, park. I was up North to visit stores that just picked up the Simmons Natural Care by Danny Seo mattress line and realized after I left New Hampshire that I had a decent 3 hour drive to Connecticut. So, this is why the good folks at Simmons gave me plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B.
With a bit of driving to do and a curious fascination with what on Earth a Yankee Candle Company tourist destination might and could be, I stopped. And unlike spending hours 90% of the building where the actual candles are sold, I spent 90% of my time in 10% of the building in the candle making museum. I like any chance to see how a simple idea becomes a giant brand like Yankee Candle, so why not. Plus, I was all alone in the museum. Maybe I’m all alone in my fascination with candles?
A man by the name of Mike Kittredge founded Yankee Candle. He started by melting his childhood crayons to make a candle for his mother as a Christmas gift. A neighbor, who admired the candle, bought one. So Mike used the money to make 2 more candles. And soon after college, in 1972, he started making candles at home. When he outgrew that space, he rented a 2000 square foot space (with no electricity, heat or water, so he had to install his own) and started producing candles on a larger scale. Over time, Yankee Candle went from some melted crayons for his mother to a $100 million dollar business. Above, you can see Mike’s canvas sneakers, all covered in candle wax. Preserved as evidence of his hands-on dedication to growing the business.
Further in the exhibit, they show taper candles being made the old fashioned way. One dip…two dips..five dips… and so on. A little part of me felt like I was in Williamsburg, VA learning about the old colonial times. Thankfully, the Coke vending machine in the corner kept me in check with modern times.
They had some of the original packaged Yankee candle pillar candles on display. OK, is it just me, or does the old packaging appeal to me more than the new? And this color, too? And even the handwritten word ORANGE on top. One idea I’ve been thinking about is doing a line of eco-friendly vegetable-wax candles; this might have to serve as some inspiration.
And here are some original camp firestarters. Yes, back then you needed some waxy cups filled with leftover wax to get the bonfire or campfire started. I’m guessing today most people aren’t camping and creating fires. But I do like creating firestarters either for the backyard BBQ or fireplace at home. In fact…..
I made these firestarters as posted in a 2007 post. Old cardboard egg carton, some melted wax, dryer lint and wicks. Tear and light. Maybe there’s a little yankee in me after all.