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Gasoline Is the New Yankee Candle of Possible Accidental COVID Indicators

Closeup of woman pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas station

We’ve gone through two winters during the COVID-19 pandemic so far, which means two seasons of the most bizarre indicator of COVID-19 infection: Yankee Candles.

In the winter of 2020—and then again the following year—the Yankee Candle website was reportedly flooded with a spate of one-star reviews, with customers reporting their candles had no scent. Seeing as Yankee Candles are known for their overwhelming aromas, and since one of the major symptoms of COVID-19 is a loss of smell and taste, well, you would have thought a lot of people could have put two and two together, but apparently not.

Winter may be peak candle season but we don’t have to wait for our weird COVID indicator to come back around. This year, we have a new accidental litmus test: gasoline.

It’s true, there are a ton of TikTok videos about the lack of smell in gasoline and at gas stations in general. With tags like this, it can be hard to tell how many are parody but based on just a cursory scroll, a lot appear to be genuine, some with the hashtag #conspiracy attached.

There could be a number of reasons for this. Maybe it’s some sort of government conspiracy. (Endgame = ???) Maybe, as Richards, who posted that original tweet posits, “it’s possible it’s related to higher ethanol dilution levels.”

Or maybe it’s the very obvious answer: COVID is still tearing through this country and it’s likely to make you lose your sense of smell. Just a possibility!

(image: kasto80/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.