“There are angry ladies all over Yankee Candle’s site reporting that none of the candles they just got had any smell at all,” she wrote on Twitter last week. “I wonder if they’re feeling a little hot and nothing has much taste for the last couple days too,” she added, a nod to other common coronavirus symptoms.
Nelson’s observation, which generated thousands of retweets and likes on the social media site, read like the punchline of a late-night joke. But it caught the attention of Kate Petrova, a research assistant with the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Bryn Mawr College, who decided to test the hypothesis by scraping roughly 20,000 reviews of the most popular scented and unscented candles on Amazon.
“It is rare, at least in my line of work, to stumble upon an anecdotal observation that can be examined using such vast amounts of easily accessible