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Spike in negative candle reviews may be tied to COVID-19

The average customer ratings for scented candles on Amazon fell in 2020, a trend that may correlate to Americans losing their loss of smell due to COVID-19, reports The Washington Post.

Terri Nelson, a Portland-based science illustrator, first suggested a potential correlation between the pandemic and negative candle reviews in a Nov. 24 tweet: "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.

The observation spurred Kate Petrova, a research assistant with the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Bryn Mawr (Pa.) College, to analyze about 20,000 Amazon reviews for scented and unscented candles as a personal research project.

She found reviews for the top-rated scented candles fell by about one full star rating in 2020 compared to prior years. Ms. Petrova did not find a similar trend for unscented candle reviews. The amount of scented candle reviews containing phrases like "can't smell" or "no scent" increased from 2 percent in January to 6 percent in November. 

The finding offers "strongly suggestive" evidence that Americans experiencing a loss of smell due to COVID-19 may be writing more negative candle reviews this year, according to the Post. However, Ms. Petrova said her analysis should be taken as "a fun exercise at data visualization — not a peer-reviewed study."

To read the full article, click here.

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Sours: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/spike-in-negative-candle-reviews-may-be-tied-to-covid-19.html

Angry That Your Scented Candle Has No Smell? The Reason Could Be COVID-19

You’ve just received some holiday-themed candles, so you strike a match and then settle back to enjoy the lovely scents of cinnamon and pine. But eventually you realize that what you smell is …. nothing.

Is it a manufacturing snafu or could this be an early warning sign of COVID-19?

It was the latter possibility that intrigued Portland, Oregon–based science illustrator Terri Nelson, enough that she began looking at online reviews of scented candles. She found plenty of evidence that something was amiss.

Writing on Twitter in late November, she noted, “There are angry ladies all over Yankee Candle’s site reporting that none of the candles they just got had any smell at all. I wonder if they’re feeling a little hot and nothing has much taste for the last couple days too.”

Fever and loss of the ability to taste and smell can be symptoms of COVID-19.

An observation too quirky to pass up, Nelson’s comment sparked the interest of Kate Petrova, a research assistant with the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She decided to do what she calls “a fun exercise at data visualization” and began to crunch the numbers, analyzing about 20,000 Amazon reviews for scented and unscented candles.

RELATED: From Nose to Toes, the List of COVID-19 Symptoms Keeps Growing

Scented Candle Reviews: A Look at the Data

It turns out that the pandemic has not been kind to the scented candle business. Petrova’s data shows that the top-rated candles fell by one full star compared with previous years — a decline not shared by unscented candles on the Amazon site. There was also a 4 percent bump in reviews that included phrases like “no scent” or “can’t smell.”

“These numbers may not seem like much, but the trajectory of no-scent reviews over the last 11 months is certainly an interesting one,” Petrova notes.

In an attempt to see if the phenomenon extended to other countries, a PhD student named Moritz Wagner at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine did a quick search through the Amazon UK site for perfume. He found that of the 10 most highly rated scents — including Boss, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, and Paco Rabanne — all showed rating declines in the past year.

Of course, these are not true studies, Petrova says, adding that more work will need to be done to determine if there’s an association between COVID-19 cases and negative reviews of scented products.

But it’s possible that keeping track of how well you smell might give you an early warning that you have COVID-19.

RELATED: 53 Top Self-Care Tips for Taking Care of You During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Why Do Some People With COVID-19 Lose Their Sense of Smell?

Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, an otolaryngologist and laryngologist at the Pacific Eye, Ear, and Skull Base Center at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Los Angeles, has some thoughts on why COVID-19 can, for some people, lead to a loss of smell and taste.

“Viruses in general have been known to cause postinfectious loss of smell and taste,” he says. “We don’t know exactly why, but it’s likely due to changes in your olfactory bulb, in the front of the brain.”

Nerve fibers that connect your brain to your nose may become inflamed when you have a virus, he says. It’s also possible that a certain type of cell — called a sustentacular cell — can begin to die off when the nerves related to your olfactory system are negatively affected by a virus like the novel coronavirus, says Dr. Mehdizadeh.

When that happens, it takes a while for new cells to replace them. For some people, that might mean a few weeks, but for others, it could be months.

“Some people with the flu can lose their sense of smell for six to eight months,” Mehdizadeh says. “With COVID, we don’t know yet. Some people who had the virus early on still haven’t regained the ability to smell.”

RELATED: Meet the COVID-19 “Long Haulers”

Why Losing Your Sense of Smell Is a Real Problem

Although loss of smell is a much more modest concern than other symptoms like being able to breathe properly, it can be more than just a bummer, Mehdizadeh says.

“We see people lose their appetite, so nutrition becomes a problem, and of course, smell warns us that something is wrong, like in the case of spoiled food, smoke, or a gas leak,” he says. “But it’s also a quality of life issue. You don’t know how much you enjoy your sense of smell until it’s gone, even temporarily.”

The takeaway? If you’ve got some scented candles, this could be a good time to light them. And then maybe leave a good review online.

Sours: https://www.everydayhealth.com/coronavirus/angry-that-your-scented-candle-has-no-smell-the-reason-could-be-covid/
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A New COVID Side Effect: Bad Reviews for Scented Candles

One of the most widely-known side effects of COVID-19 is it causes loss of taste and smell in those infected. Yet, despite this well-documented fact, some who have tested positive still leave bad reviews online for scented candles. Their principal complaint? They can't smell them.

After someone named Terri Nelson noted the trend on Twitter, another person shared a link from Yankee Candle's online shop for the Sparkling Cinnamon fragrance. The link was from a one-star review, where the purchaser, under the headline of "Waste of money," wrote "I purchased three of these. What a waste. There's virtually NO scent to these at all!! If I wasn't confined to my home because of covid I would return these for sure."

While a Yankee Candle representative replied with a courteous note assuring the buyer that the company would be happy to exchange any order if a "100% Happiness Guarantee" was not met, other customers pointed out the obvious--it may not be the candle lacking scent but rather the infected person's inability to smell it. As one person replied to the review on Yankee Candle's site: "Uh.... has it occurred to you that you might not be able to smell them very well because you have covid?"

Kate Petrova, a research assistant in the psychology department at Bryn Mawr College, also noticed Nelson's tweet. She decided to investigate further by looking at the Amazon reviews for scented and unscented candles over the past few years. Examining data visualization, Petrova noted reviews for popular scented candles were relatively stable from January 2017 to January 2020, but then "there was a sharp drop between January and November 2020."

Over the course of several tweets, Petrova shared different graphs with a breakdown of what she gleaned from them.

She looked at the overall complaints of the three most popular scented candles on Amazon and saw a marked decrease since COVID-19 was first discovered in the U.S. She noted an increase in reviews of Amazon's top five scented candles where people complained about the lack of scent--a complaint that became more common, rising from less than 2 percent in January of 2020 to around 6 percent by November. (Petrova pointed out that many people left bad reviews for scented candles without explanation for the review, but the those negatives were escalated nonetheless.)

As she anticipated, there was no change in the amount of complaints for unscented candles during that period.

A PhD student at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine named Moritz Wagner was inspired by Petrova's research to do a little digging of his own. He found a similar trend occurring in UK Amazon reviews for perfumes.

A popular thread on Reddit sprung up in the wake of Petrova's research. One Reddit user noted there: "It seems quite interesting the reviews specifically referencing "lack of scent" peaked in April (1st wave peak) saw a minor rise in August (2nd wave peak) and peaked again dramatically into October and November (solidly in the 3rd wave)."

After explaining her research over the course of several tweets, Petrova wrapped up her discussion (for the time being) on the subject with a sensible request. She asked that anyone with a sense of smell who is doing a little online shopping should "maybe buy a scented candle and leave a nice review. And no, I don't work for a candle company. I just like looking at data."

Sours: https://www.newsweek.com/covid-scented-candles-reviews-1551248
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Negative reviews of scented candles surge after increase in Covid infections

A researcher has found a correlation between negative reviews for scented candles and a rise in coronavirus infections.

Kate Petrova, who works on the Harvard Study of Adult Development, posted a fun data thread on Twitter about the “unexpected victims” of the pandemic.

It seems that negative reviews of the top three scented candles on Amazon increased as rates of Covid-19 grew.

She said: “First, I downloaded a random subsample of US-based customer reviews of the three most popular scented candles on Amazon. 

“Between January 2017 and January 2020, the average rating stayed around 4.3/5, but there was a sharp drop between January and November 2020. 

“Could it be because of the Covid-related loss of smell? To investigate, I plotted the reviews of the three most popular unscented candles on Amazon, and the difference was quite striking.”

Ms Petrova found that since the beginning of 2020 customer satisfaction for scented candles was dropping much faster than for unscented ones.

She expanded her dataset to include the top five scented candles and found that “no scent” reviews grew from less than 2 per cent in January to 6 per cent in November.

The researcher added: “So, if you are doing any virtual Black Friday shopping today, and if you still have your sense of smell, maybe buy a scented candle and leave a nice review. 

“And no, I don’t work for a candle company. I just like looking at data.”

Sours: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/covid-candles-reviews-smell-b1763214.html

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Scented candle reviews on Amazon and Covid-19

Prompted by a tweet about scented candles without smell and Covid-19, Kate Petrova plotted Amazon reviews for scented and unscented candles over time. Notice the downward trend for scented candles after the first confirmed case for Covid-19.

Interesting if true. I’m imagining a bunch of people opening their new scented candles, taking a big whiff, and not smelling anything.

But I wonder if there are outside forces (a.k.a. confounding factors) at work here. For example, Petrova only looked at reviews for the “top 3” scented candles. What do we see with other candles? Maybe a higher demand for scented candles from more people staying at home put a strain on the manufacturer. Maybe there was a shortage of some scented ingredient, which led to less potent candles. Maybe new scented candles customers have unrealistic expectations of what candles smell like.

I don’t know.

Maybe the decreasing average review really is related to Covid-19 symptoms.

Petrova put up the code and data, in case you want to dig into it.

Update: In my original post, I unknowingly used an offensive word unfit for usage. Thank you to those who pointed it out to me.

Sours: https://flowingdata.com/2020/12/02/scented-candle-reviews-on-amazon-and-covid-19/
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