So popular are candles as gifts that they have become a present buyer's contingency plan, generally picked up on the way to birthday party or Christmas function. Mothers, sisters, daughters and grandmothers have received enough candles over the last few decades to securely entrench the combination of a wax and a wick as one of the most clichéd gift available.
In recent years, candlemakers have taken note of those more inclined to arsonist tendencies by targeting men with some slightly more unusual scented candles. The Mandle company is one of the players in this field, and its catalogue includes culinary-inspired scents meat and potatoes, camp breakfast and peanut butter; outdoors options grass, fresh earth, rawhide and campfire; and the overtly misogynistic stripper's mouth and bikini model.
In the for him candle scene, Mandle company is located on the lower end of the spectrum and essentially functions in a similar space to a lad magazine. For the male with a more sophisticated nasal cavity, The New York Times recommends Acqua di Parma, Max Benjamin and Diptyque among others.
And the language used to market these more elite candles is also markedly different, with an online writeup describing a Max Benjamin candle as having "a strong masculine scent with cardamom, black pepper and patchouli mixed with amber tonka and musks".
Mark van den Bergh of Max Benjamin told the New York Times that growing popularity of masculine candles is driven by the same forces that led to the increase in sales for fragrances for men.
And van den Bergh goes on to say: "How someone’s home smells is the first thing we notice when we visit them and the last thing that’s left in our minds when we leave. Men have wised up to this and want their home fragrance to reflect their identity and leave a good impression."
While the other man candle producers are simply in it for the cash, the story behind Man Can also has a for good element. Starting out in his parents' basement, young entrepreneur Hart Main made candles out of soup cans. At first the cans came from soup purchased by his family, but soon demand for the candles became too great. And in this he saw an opportunity to help the needy. So rather than just purchasing empty tin cans, he now donates a can of soup to someone in need every time a candle is sold.
To date, Main has donated 80,000 cans of soup. Not bad, for a teenager.