What's the Key Ingredient in KFC’s New Gravy-Scented Candle?

Three decorative candles burning

Candle Stabilizers Are Key Ingredient in KFC’s New Gravy-Scented Candle

Over 80% of Americans lit a candle in their home last year, and these products have become essential ingredients for creating any cozy domestic environment.

The National Candle Association estimates that U.S. consumers have over 10,000 scents available to them. Candlemakers can now achieve scents as varied as libraries, pizza, and, yes, even KFC gravy.

Hungry for Candles

Improvements in candle technology have given manufacturers huge opportunities to innovate, allowing them to experiment with many unique candle shapes and scents. This has resulted in what some are calling the pinnacle of the scented candle experience: KFC’s Gravy Candle.

While this isn’t KFC’s first foray into home goods, having previously offered chicken-scented yule logs and fried chicken bath bombs, these candles are certainly nothing to turn your nose at.

Colored a rich caramel and imbued with the mouth-watering scent of chicken gravy, these promotional items exemplify everything candle stabilizers can make possible: intense, lasting fragrances in whatever form you want them, and colors that can stand the test of time. 

Unlike most of KFC’s offerings, these candles don’t owe their success to 11 carefully guarded herbs and spices. Rather, they result from a unique and innovative combination of the same candle stabilizers that have taken the rest of the industry by storm.

How Do Candle Stabilizers Maintain a Candle’s Fragrance?

So how do candles like KFC’s latest creation maintain their distinct scent?

They rely on a series of special candle stabilizers, which control the interaction between dyes and fragrances as they’re exposed to heat. They also shield candles from environmental influences, preventing fragrances and dyes from degrading ahead of their time. Candle stabilizers operate using a number of different ingredients:


Oxidation reactions naturally result from exposing organic materials to high temperatures. Candle manufacturers must control oxidation because it can cause discoloration and hurt fragrance integrity. Antioxidants protect candle components from degrading when they experience intense thermal conditions during wax pouring or burning.

UV Absorbers

Ultraviolet radiation also threatens candle longevity, as it can break down the wax’s components. Candle manufacturers control for this by incorporating UV absorbers into their products. These stabilizers work by competitively absorbing certain wavelengths of UV light before they affect the candle’s polymers.

Light Stabilizers

In addition to UV protection, candles also need protection from regular light. Because of this, manufacturers often add further light stabilizers to work in tandem with UV absorbers. These often include hindered amine light stabilizers (HALS), which trap free radicals formed by UV exposure, or benzoates, which can absorb incoming light themselves. 

The Evolving Candle Industry

As the U.S. candle industry continues to grow and consumers remain open to new trends, manufacturers are experimenting with a range of different scents, from traditional florals to whacky food items.

Image Credit: Daria Minaeva / Shutterstock.com

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