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What Does Houston Smell Like?

A new candle line at Kuhl-Linscomb poses the question.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen June 5, 2015

Texas candles at Kuhl-Linscomb

Kuhl-Linscomb has a lot of fun products in store that you have to sort of dig around and explore to uncover. And then there's the new line of candles named after Texas cities, set up right smack inside the front entrance. Sometimes no exploring is necessary. 

"Texans love Texas," I once watched an expert on Antiques Roadshow explain to a man holding a book of maps, in explanation for why a Texas historical map is more valuable than a similarly dated map of the general United States. Our civic pride extends to every inch of our clothing and decor, so it only makes sense that we'd want our homes and offices to smell like Houston, Dallas, etc., lest a soundtrack of Pat Green and a welcome mat that says "Hey, Y'all!" not get the point across completely.

The candles are in squat, amber colored jars and emblazoned with not only the scent of the city but also the proper insignia. The Houston version sports an oil derrick logo and reads "Rise early, work hard and strike oil," which sounds okay, except for the rising early and working hard part. The Dallas version, by way of comparison, includes a man riding a bronco and the slogan "All hat, no cattle," which makes even a notorious Dallasite like myself chuckle a little.

These candles can poke some fun at Dallas because they are made by Dallas designer duo Jackson Vaughn and sold out of their adorable shop, Society, located in Dallas's hot Bishop Arts neighborhood. Neither the candles themselves nor the Society website offers any clues as to what scents were compiled to represent each city olfactorily, so I have only my allergy-afflicted nose to go by.

Dallas has a clean, fresh scent that does hint at a certain floral elegance and was probably my favorite of the five. Fort Worth (steer head, "The bigger the buckle, the better") smells a lot like Dallas, but more. Austin (guitar, "Kick off your boots and stay awhile") is the most unique of the bunch, with more herbal, spicy and grassy notes. San Antonio (Alamo, "Don't squat with your spurs on") is by far the sweetest, like it was made with some of the city's delicious cajeta, a Mexican dulce de leche, thrown in.

Houston has the mildest scent of the five—at first I couldn't smell it at all. Is that because I've been smelling Houston for years and have gone nose-blind to it? Maybe. It's a clean scent with perhaps a touch of citrus and floral notes. If someone had the Houston candle burning, it's so subtle that it seems like it would just make your house smell great, as opposed to smelling like a candle. That seems like the kind of un-pretentious thing Houstonians would be into, so well done, Jackson Vaughn.

The candles are at Kuhl-Linscomb—although one should note that it looks like the only Houston candle left at present is the tester—with smaller versions starting at $26 and larger candles priced at $36. At those prices it's safe to assume that Texas smells pretty darn good.


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