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'Scents of Normality' captures the essence of everyday life before lockdown

From the scent of a cinema to a classic pub or outdoor music festival, this candle line aims to transport you to the places you miss when you can't go anywhere.

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The candle line called Scents of Normality from London-based Earl of East candles.

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Earl of East

Watching a movie at home these days doesn’t come with quite the same potpourri of aromas associated with an actual movie theater, such as popcorn, artificial butter or wrinkly hot dogs behind the concession stand.

Earl of East, a London candle shop, wants to bring these smells back into your life. They’ve created a new line of candles called Scents of Normality, which seeks to capture the essence of places you may miss during a pandemic lockdown. 

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In addition to a “cinema” candle, the Scents of Normality line also includes a “festival” candle that evokes outdoor music concerts with notes of cut grass, food trucks and marijuana. Then there’s the “local” candle, which aims to recreate the smell of a classic pub, with notes of spilled beer, hair pomade and french fry grease. The company’s description of “local” reveals that it features the “ersatz-lemon of a urinal block."

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As for why the company opted to include more realistic scents, co-owner Paul Firmin said they wanted to get as close to the real thing as possible. 

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“You can’t have a pub without beer or a festival without cannabis or a, you know, cinema without popcorn,” Firmin said. 

Firmin says the candle line is a nod to nostalgia and how closely our sense of smell is tied to memory. 

“That’s why you can be walking down the street and the smell of smoke might instantly remind you of a grandparent or uncle, or a perfume could literally transport you to a place or time,” he explained. 

During lockdown, people found themselves in the unexpected position of being nostalgic for run-of-the-mill spots, like their local watering hole. Firmin adds there are other somewhat mundane smells he’s been nostalgic for, too.

“In the very early days, kind of March and April, things I was missing were more associated with food, like the smell of going past a bakery or a coffee shop,” he said.

Since then, lockdown restrictions have eased considerably in London. But Firmin and his partner, Niko Dafkos, with whom he owns Earl of East, have made the conscious decision not to travel. That choice has informed some of the other scents he’s missing these days. 

“At this point, I really am still missing the smell of the ocean, and am craving that a little bit,” Firmin said.

Proceeds from the candles go to Hospitality Action, a charity in the UK that provides support services for people in the hospitality industry.

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