What Are Tomato Candles And Why Are They Popular?

Candles help create a relaxing experience and work to calm the senses to soothe a nervous system that's in overdrive. It's one reason why they make great gifts. According to the Houston Chronicle, candle sales are increasing as people buy them for graduation, wedding, and holiday gifts. If you're looking to create a warm and peaceful atmosphere in your home (and who isn't?), lighting a candle can be an instant mood enhancer. If it's a scented candle, then that's basically doubling the soothing ambiance because there are specific candle scents to burn when you want to relax.

It comes as no surprise that the candle industry is currently booming. With the looming pandemic fears combined with forced quarantines, we're all staying home more and could use something to help calm our chaotic minds. According to Verified Market Research, the candle industry was valued at a little over 7 million dollars back in 2020 and is expected to reach upwards of 10 million dollars by 2028.

The abundance of various scents offered today provides an even wider appeal. While lavender, vanilla, and citrus are popular candle scents, the industry is branching out to include some off-beat aromas. The new tomato candle is just one example.

What is a tomato candle anyway?

Candles are usually purchased for an occasion or season and their scent helps your brain makes associations (The Harvard Gazette). Think of how a whiff of pumpkin spice recalls Halloween and autumn while vanilla or cinnamon can make you think of winter holidays.

The warm summer months might make some think of the smells of chlorine from pools or taking in the aroma of beach waves while near the ocean. However, another scent that you're likely to only encounter during the summer months if you live in an area with seasons, is a homegrown tomato. Nothing quite says summer like the fresh scent of an heirloom tomato freshly picked off the vine. 

Growing tomatoes is such a nostalgic activity for many and becomes a comforting annual ritual (via The Nostalgic Gardener). Since tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in your garden, many of us have memories of helping tend to tomato plants during summer. Those who have done it before, know that touching a tomato vine while you pick off a freshly ripened tomato will leave your hands christened with that sweet vine scent for hours.

Why do scents affect our emotions?

There's actually a biological reason why so many of us have nostalgic memories of tomatoes and even scents like our mother's perfume or a favorite family meal. Rachel Herz, Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist and author of "The Scent of Desire" tells Prevention that this phenomenon stems from a place in our brain, "the amygdala-hippocampal complex — which is where emotions, memories, and associations take place." In an instant that you inhale the scent which brought you joy or even pain, you are transported to that memory.

However, the memory must have made an initial impression on you. "Smells don't evoke anything specific unless we've had an experience with them," says Herz. "Your specific personal history is what's going to elicit a particular emotion or memory for a given smell for you."

So, if you grew tomatoes during the summer at your house or even at your grandparents' farm, the tomato candle has the potential to transport you back to that glorious carefree time in your life ... and we can use a little of that from time to time.