We can't help but be amused by the number of retailers attaching the term "gourmet" to their soy candles.
In a world of superlatives, it seems there's no limit to the lengths some companies will go to in the hopes of winning your business. And the linguistic sticklers among us feel our senses rile every time we see the phrase, "gourmet soy candles," especially when we consider the origins of the term.
Simply put, a gourmet is a person with a discriminating and sensitive palate, well learned in the subject of dining, drink, and haute cuisine. The word comes from the French language, where gourmet means a "valet in charge of wines." More recently the word has been used as a adjective to describe meals of especially high quality, or a meal that has required special effort or artistry in its preparation and/or presentation. "Gourmet" is also used to describe facilities equipped to facilitate this sort of meal, as in a restaurant, and the exotic specialty ingredients that are often used in preparing such meals.
So how do these ideas of gourmet relate to soy candles? Quite honestly, that remains to be seen. Since soy candles aren't eaten, the connection seems tenuous, at best. Therefore, it is safe to assume that companies schilling gourmet soy candles are using the term as a sort of firecracker to grab your attention.
Yet, at the same time, it makes some sort of sense as to why this term is being applied to candles. These days, the word gourmet indicates the luxury and decadence that come along with eating extremely high quality cuisine. The word is also much associated with items that one might use to relax and unwind after a stressful day of work, such as fine wine and chocolates.
So it makes sense that certain retailers would start to associate their soy candles with the concept of gourmet. A soy candle is, after all, something that denotes a higher standard of quality than a regular petroleum candle - they are known burn more cleanly and for a longer period of time, at the very least. If someone is looking to buy a very high quality candle, that person probably isn't doing it out of necessity or in order to save money, but in order to set an attractive and soothing ambiance in a room for purposes of relaxation and self care. Much like gourmet chocolates, soy candles are a way in which one can do something nice for oneself and set aside space to relax and enjoy the full range of the senses.
However, it is important for consumers to be careful when purchasing soy candles, or anything else that has had the word gourmet associated with it, for that matter. "Gourmet" is not a regulated term, so it can be associated with any product. If your corner burger joint wanted to advertise their regular burger and fries as gourmet, they could do so without having to alter any of the ingredients. So just because a retailer is advertising soy candles as "gourmet", it does not mean that you will necessarily get a quality product.
When purchasing soy candles, always be sure to have a look and see what the candle is made out of. Ideally, you want something made out of soy wax and scented with essential oils and pure plant extracts. Soy wax burns more cleanly and with much less soot than petroleum candles, but if your soy candle is scented with artificial compounds, you may still end up inhaling some interesting unknown substances. Again, the word gourmet does not indicate that your soy candle is made with or without questionable artificial ingredients, so always be sure to carefully research your purchase before you make it!
While it should come as no shock that retail is often about grabbing a customers attention, we advise all consumers to be wary of the empty promises implicit in the liberal use of this term. Does tacking "gourmet" in front of "soy candle" denote any qualitative difference between this candle and any other? Absolutely not. Instead, should consumers look past empty adjectives and into the soy candles themselves, to find the highest quality, petroleum-free product available? Absolutely.