IIt started as a joke with my friend Jane at our Zoom Christmas party at work. We had a questionnaire and one question was: “What’s the name of Gwyneth Paltrow’s £ 68 scented candle, which she launched on her Goop website in 2020?” I knew the answer: this smells like my vagina. Jane laughed, explaining that she had bought one to see what the fuss was about. I won the contest and the candle was my prize; Jane sent it to me the next day. The candle, made from soy wax and essential oils, is apparently so named because Paltrow was joking with Goop’s perfumer, Douglas Little. According to the marketing blurb: “The two were working on a fragrance and she blurted out, ‘Uhhh … this smells like a vagina.’
A few weeks later, I decided to turn it on. I live in a small one bed apartment in London with my partner, David, and our two cats. I love scented candles and during the last closing, their warm flame and fragrance have given me a bit of joy in the evenings.
I trimmed the wick according to the instructions and put it in a candle holder in our front room. It smelled really good, bergamot, cedar, and rose.
The following night, however, all hell broke loose. A few minutes after lighting the candle, it exploded. Flames roared half a meter from the jar and chunks of molten wax flew as it bubbled and spat. We couldn’t get close to it to put it out because the flames were so fierce, and we didn’t want to throw water on it for fear of splashing molten wax everywhere. Luckily, he had placed it on concrete, at the base of what was once a fireplace.
David and I panic, trying to figure out what to do. We were relieved that the cats were safe, sleeping in our bedroom. Fortunately, after what seemed like forever, but probably wasn’t more than five minutes, the flames subsided and I was able to put out the candle. The charred jar and melted label were testament to how hot it had become.
Once my heart rate dropped, I posted photos of the aftermath on Instagram, with the tongue-in-cheek caption: “Yeah thanks Gwynnie, fill your vagina on fire #narrowlyavoideddisaster #perfect #gwynethpaltrowalmostkilledme”.
My friends thought it was hilarious, so when a reporter from the Sun got in touch a couple of days later, asking if he could run the story, I thought it was hilarious. I took a selfie with the cremated remains, pointing to a comical “angry person’s face in the local newspapers.” It was immediately picked up by Mail Online, Mirror, Subway, and that night by the New York Post.
Twitter lit up with memes and gifs using my images. Lots of people withering tweeted like: “If you spend £ 68 on a Goop candle, you get what you deserve.” Others speculated that he had somehow deliberately blown it up. Above all, people found it funny.
By the end of the day, the story had appeared on news sites in New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, the Philippines. It was one of the top Twitter news in the UK. Even the London fire brigade tweeted, saying: “I may be popular, but don’t go #Gwyneth Paltrow Unattended scented candle and always on a fireproof surface. If you don’t, firefighters could rush to your home and squirt water. “Although some cheaper candles have been known to explode Due to overheating, there have been no other reports of a Goop going off.
A concerned Goop headquarters got in touch and offered to send in treats as an apology. But sadly, I didn’t hear from Gwyneth herself.
Perhaps there is a certain degree of coldness behind the popularity of my story. Some people don’t like Paltrow because of the wellness fads she endorses, but I think she also provided a much-needed distraction in the middle of a pandemic.
My Goop pack of body and skin care products arrived recently; fortunately, it did not contain anything combustible. The acrid smell of the exploding Gwyneth vagina candle isn’t something I’m eager to relive, but I’m still laughing at it.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism