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Man candles

The Life Less Traveled

July 11, 2012
I was walking through the mall with my wife this summer when I realized that the world had officially run out of ideas. The Yankee Candle Co. window display said it all: Man Candles. You've got to be kidding me, I thought. Could Yankee Candle Co., unquestionably one of the most feminine stores in the mall, be taking a stab at candles for men?

The answer, I'm afraid, is yes. I know this seemed like a brilliant idea in a marketing meeting, but I'm here to tell the good folks at the Yankee Candle Co. that, if you want to reach men, you're going to have to do better than that.

To be fair, I applaud their efforts, but they obviously didn't consult any real men in the development of this product line. If they had, any red-blooded American male would have blown the whistle on at least six critical changes they should have made to put Man Candles on the map.

1. A catchy jingle

The first thing these guys should have done was bring in 1980s pop legends Hall and Oats to update their classic "Maneater" song to promote the candles. Just imagine the new lyrics: Oh-oh here it comes. Watch out, boy. It'll burn you up. Oh-oh here it comes. It's a ma-an candle! Trust me, you'll be singing it all day.

2. More manly scents

Though "First Down," "Riding Mower" and "2x4" are fine initial efforts, any guy could tell you Yankee Candle Co. could have done way better than that. Where are "Hot Wings," "Nacho Dip," "Remote Control" or "Duct Tape"? How about anything that smells like home electronics such the aromatic "Apple Store" or everyone's favorite, "Best Buy"?

3. New containers

Nix the girlie jars. Package these Man Candles in rusty metal or splintered wood if you want to appeal to the real man in all of us.

4. Really long wicks

Men like fire and lots of it. If it burns big, we are sold.

5. An explosive middle

Consider point four and double it for things that go boom. You load these suckers with a cherry bomb core, and I guarantee you've got the best-selling candle on the planet.

6. Tech support

When it comes to guys and fire, sometimes we're not the brightest gender. Get those call centers up and going and, while you're at it, go ahead and get the fire department on the other line.

OK, in all fairness, Yankee Candle Co. gave it their best shot. I'll give them an "A" for effort. After all, it's not easy to boil down the essence of manhood into a 22-ounce jar of wax.

Take a quick look around the landscape of American culture, and you'll see all kinds of confusing messages about what it means to be a real man. Gangster rap videos say it's all about having more women, wealth and attitude. Action movies tell us we should be the resourceful hero who, against all odds, somehow manages to save the day. Romantic comedies, on the other hand, favor the sweet, sensitive guy.

But what does the Bible say? What kind of man does God praise?

I think of a guy like King David, who was called a man after God's own heart, and Moses, who was called a friend of God. Of course, there was Abraham, who scored major points for simply believing God's promises even when they didn't make sense. Then, there's Jesus, the ultimate example of what it means to be a man, strong but restrained, secure but humble and willing to sacrifice Himself for the good of others.

If God created His own Man Candles, I wonder what scents He would choose. How about the sweet smell of integrity or the rich aroma of courage? Or maybe the fragrance of faithfulness or the scent of self-control? "2x4" and "Riding Lawnmower" are fine, but this gets much closer to the essence of what it really means to be a man.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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