Retro Candles Continue to Wow Four Decades Later

By Jane Duncan, freelance writer

October 24 2020

The 1980s were, without any doubt, a great era to grow up in. As a girl approaching her teenage years, you might have had a crush on John Stamos or idolized Madonna. Chances are you wore an arm-full of rubber bracelets, owned more than one pair of leg warmers, and made mix tapes for your best friends. When it came to Christmas and your birthday, there were no high-tech gadgets and larger-than-life makeup sets on your wish lists. Instead, you hoped for a brand new toy or a pretty item to put in your room. There was one thing, in particular, that became a hot-favourite as far as gift wish lists were concerned; candles.

Scented Candles Topped Many Wish Lists

Prior to the 1980s, candles were predominantly used as a source of light. Fast-forward to the mid-eighties, however, and they became the symbol of romance and celebration. This new-found appeal resulted in candles being manufactured in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and scents. The scented candles were particularly popular with many dreamy-eyed teenage girls wishing for a brightly-coloured rose or vanilla-scented candle for her birthday or Christmas.
Today, scented candles are still popular and available in an ever-expanding range of tantalising fragrances. While floral scents have a timeless appeal, more daring combinations such as kiwi & passionfruit, cardamom & bourbon, and vanilla & blood are also very popular.
80s wax ball candle

Classic wax ball candle

The Funkier, The Better

Even more popular than scented candles were those that boasted trendy shapes and colours. Candles that contained more than one colour were particularly popular, with multi-layer rainbow candles being considered an absolute treasure. Cylindrical candles have always been a popular choice although ball and pyramid candles became a hot commodity towards the tail-end of the decade.
Although candles are still a ‘thing’ today, they have undergone quite a metamorphosis since the 1980s. Eco-friendly beeswax and soy candles are extremely popular right now, as are candles that boast a wood wick as opposed to the common cotton wick. These wood wick candles make for wonderful gifts as the burning wick mimics the sound of a crackling fire, boosting the ambiance considerably.

Everyone wanted a candle-making kit

As candles skyrocketed in popularity in the 1980s, candle making became a very popular pastime among children and adults alike. Store-bought candles were often melted and the wax poured into everything from empty milk boxes to cooldrink cans to create funky colours in an array of shapes and sizes. If you were looking to make cool, retro candles a wax crayon in your favorite colour would be melted in with the original candle.

Thanks to the newfound interest in candle making, candle making kits were developed. These kits contained everything you need to make your own candles: wax, wick, a mould, and an instruction leaflet. Today, the art of candle-making has become increasingly sophisticated with kits containing everything from printed labels to carefully-selected fragrances and dyes.

There are a number of trends from the 1980s that are still popular today. Even though candles are available in more shapes, colours, sizes, and scents than ever before, they still have the same whimsical appeal as they did 40 years ago. 

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