That first whiff of a freshly opened Apple box is an experience many of us can conjure up in our minds. But could you create a formula to truly capture the scent?
Andrew Green essentially gave himself this mission of bridging the factory and the olfactory when he came up with the idea to create a New Mac scented candle as a self-promotional item for Twelve South, the Apple Accessory firm he co-founded in South Carolina.
What he didn't know at the time was that he'd soon be reviewing hundreds of potential aroma combinations, struggling to distill the experience of opening an Apple product into a scent that's not only accurate but also earnestly nice to have wafting through your home or office.
"We've always wanted to have some carefully curated corporate merchandise, so yesterday we finally released some things," Green told Adweek today. "One of them was this crazy idea I had a couple months ago [for a candle] that smells like that smell when you open a new Mac for the first time."
Word of the candle spread quickly through websites frequented by Apple aficionados, and by the end of the first day, the hundreds of candles Twelve South had created were sold out. Now he's already working to step up the production and make this odd idea a must-have holiday gift for his fellow Mac addicts.
Capturing the experience of opening a Macbook or iPhone was no simple feat.
Green's firm partnered with another South Carolina business, Candlefish, to create the formula and bring it to life.
So what does a new Mac smell like? Green started by asking other Mac fans if there even was a smell they associated with the unboxing process, and many "shyly admitted" to sniffing their new Apple products upon opening.
"Once you admit that you sniff boxes, you hope there are others who do it too," Green said. "I think everyone's comfortable with that new car smell, but is there really a new Mac smell?"
Much like the smell of new sneakers, Green recognized that the signature smell of a new tech product is "probably from bad stuff like glues and new plastics," but the end result can still be pleasant. So he worked to find an aromatic formula that would capture the hints of plastic and aluminum without creating something clinical and lifeless.
"You have to make a decision to make a scent that's pleasant to have around," he said. "The idea is tongue-in-cheek and fun, but at the end of the day we wanted to make a candle that we wanted in our house."
Made from soy wax, the final product boasts hints of "mint, peach, basil, lavender, mandarin and sage."
The candles are poured fresh, so Twelve South and Candlefish are working to meet the unexpected demand while still being true to the quality they'd been shooting for.
While the idea is a fascinating deep dive into the nuances of customer experience, it's also a reminder that sometimes a little creative thinking can go a long way.
"We're like a team of Mac nerds here. Something that starts as a joke can very easily become a product," said Green, who's happy to pivot a bit from his usual creations if there's a demand for this kind of off-the-wall accessory. "I can't imagine a better gift for a Mac lover for the holidays. It's an idea that's clearly struck a nerve, so we'll make more."