I’m just asking.
The first thing you notice is the weight. Initially it’s nothing, mini Snickers and small Nerds boxes hitting the bottom of an empty plastic pumpkin in a dull echo of sad solitude. Then you keep going, keep acquiring assets, and before you know it, you begin to feel accomplished, wealthy, stocked. Your vessel is filling up, and you lift it to your face to peer inside at your spoils through the slits of a rubber mask. That’s when it happens: Your first whiff of magic, a potion that can only reach peak seasoning at the end of Halloween night—it’s the scent inside your trick-or-treat bag. You remember it now.
The bouquet is unique, a marriage of all forms of confectionery both chocolate-based and fruit-forward, with various plastic and cardboard exteriors to speak of. A candy aisle at Target somehow never smells like this. It’s as if sweets have to be confined to quarters in a child’s receptacle to reach their true potential. I love this smell, I remember it every year, and here’s what I can’t understand: Why is this not yet a scented candle?
We have everything! We have candles that mimic the scent of used book stores and jelly beans that taste like mowed grass, if that’s your thing. Pillars of wax can now smell more like fresh cinnamon rolls than actual fresh cinnamon rolls, what in Hell’s bells gives? How have we not yet distilled the very peak of childhood into something I can light in my living room while I read a novel?
The candle industry is letting me and my childhood down, that’s what’s happening. This is the scent, the scent. Keep your vanilla bean and gardenia peasantries, I need something with more intellectual nuance, do you understand me? Trick-or-treating is without question the best night of the year. I used to legitimately wait 364 days for this. It was my night of freedom, the one night I could ask moms I didn’t know for candy and get a positive response as opposed to the one mom I did know who wasn’t about to give me shit. Don’t I deserve to be transported back to happy times by lighting a wick? I can walk into any common Home Goods and find candles in every scent from bacon wrapped bacon to gin-based cocktails on a rooftop at midnight, can a bitch get a bag full of artificially flavored candy?!
You know what it is, adults forget. Becoming a grown-up means we get to have buckets of fun all the time. Nights out with friends, parties, trips abroad. We no longer have to view one night of limitless candy collection as achieving peak. With this memory lapse comes missed opportunity. Ironic that we mature into a capitalist society and somehow forget the value in taking our teddy bears with us. Pity.
In days of old, before the internet and Instagram and our steady descent into vicarious living, that smell meant you’d be stocked up on candy ’til Christmas. Back then, that was confidence. Try and fuck with an eight-year-old the morning after Halloween, I dare you. Trick-or-treat bag interior is olfactory childhood at its very best, and dammit, we need it back. I don’t need to trigger you with tales of 2020, I wouldn’t insult your intelligence so far as to bring 2016 into the discussion. But what I will do is point out the fact that our weakness likes in the societal frowning upon adults trick-or-treating, but our strength lies in the fact that we earn an income.
Take our money, candlemongers! Use all your powers, and all your skills (yes that’s from the Godfather and a touch dramatic but I have my reasons!) to divine from the ether a candle befitting this childhood scent memory, that most precious of subconscious treasures. I will buy in bulk, I will send to my friends, you shan’t be left with unsold stock. Just, for the love of Junior Mints, put your backs into it! We need you now. We’ve little else.
Help us escape, without going anywhere. As we round the corner of a holiday cherished for its centering around make believe, I need something real. I need a candle that takes me back to my nose inside a plastic orange pumpkin with a handle that’s seven minutes from snapping. I need to inhale and be unable to discern Twizzlers from Kit Kat. I need the confidence that comes with knowing I procured my own candy supply, I no longer need beg my captors. Help me, you creatives, you scientists. I can only hope I have served to light a fire under your ass, because I long to light one in my living room.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, a lot.