Product Review: KLEIO Candles

kleioHave you ever read a history book or watched a historical drama and dreamed of going back in time to know what the past was like? Since time travel is still something from science fiction, we can only experience history through one sense at a time. There are tons of historical costume designers, musicians who specialize in tunes from the past, dedicated caretakers who work hard to preserve homes from the past, and cooks who want to experience what past delicacies tasted like and understand the diets from centuries long ago. The cooks get a general idea of what kitchens might have smelled like, but what about the average history nerds who want to understand what pleasant scents the past might include? How can a casual history nerd experience a sensory journey from the past? 

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Look no further than KLEIO, a small United States business that wants to give its customers, who they refer to as “time travelers,” a sensory journey into the past through their custom-made candles. They are named after the Greek muse of history, Kleio (or Clio), their emblem. The face of Kleio faces the left to honor the past. 

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Now I know what you are thinking, why review candles? What does this have to do with history books and the past? Here is the cool part about KLEIO. They do more than just take random scents from the past and make candles. Instead, they work with historians and historical institutes to create unique experiences for their time travelers so that they can enhance the history learning experience.

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I would like to thank KLEIO for allowing me to enjoy this extraordinary sensory journey. I was blown away by how these candles and packaging were, and I couldn’t wait to dive into the past. 

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The time capsules are black and gold cylindrical containers, with one side having the gilded Kleio image. On the reverse side is a piece of parchment with the corresponding writing style with a “sealed” date to complete the illusion of a time capsule. Each candle is wrapped carefully in tissue paper with a key corresponding to the era. Once you open the tissue paper, you are greeted with a lovely black and gold stopper with the words “Unlock History” etched into the material. The candles are encased in gilded glass vessels with a unique emblem corresponding to each candle. 

Now that I have attempted to describe the packing for the time capsule candles let me explain what candles I received and what my sensory experience was with each candle. For the candles inspired by books, I have included my book reviews on the books. 

sweet cacaoSweet Cacao

Scent: Ancient cacao, chocolate, Mesoamerican vanilla bean, and copal resin. 

The Sweet Cacao candle was made in collaboration with the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute to create a sensory journey to ancient Mesoamerica and their ancient rituals dedicated to cacao. It is a complex, decadent cacao scent that transported me to a time and place that I was unfamiliar with, but it was thrilling. It shows the importance of cacao in the past, especially to Mesoamerica and its culture. 

If you would like to learn more about the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute and their research, you can find more here: https://www.chocolateinstitute.org/

secret archivesSecret Archives

Scent: Resin Incense, ancient scrolls, and sacred papers.

The Secret Archives candle collaborates with author and historian Sandra Vasoli for her latest novel, “Pursuing a Masterpiece.” In the book, Vasoli’s modern-day protagonist, Zara Rossi, visits the Secret Archives at the Vatican Library and discovers an incredible mystery. This candle is comforting and reminds me of my childhood in a library and falling in love with studying history. 

If you want to read my review of “Pursuing a Masterpiece” by Sandra Vasoli, you can check it out here: https://adventuresofatudornerd.com/2022/12/01/book-review-pursuing-a-masterpiece-a-novel-by-sandra-vasoli/.

my dearest friendMy Dearest Friend

Scent: Caramelized sugar, cinnamon spice, nutmeg, freshly baked bread, buttercream, vanilla bean, and almond. 

The My Dearest Friend candle is for the American Revolutionary War enthusiasts in your life. It reminded me of my childhood and the biography I read years ago called “Dearest Friend” by Lynne Witney. This candle was so comforting, based on a bread pudding recipe that Abigail Adam used regularly. I can just picture Abigail making this recipe for her family and her husband, John Adams, as he is helping form the foundations for the United States of America. 

Fun fact: The writing on this candle’s time capsule is Abigail Adam’s handwriting. 

download (1)Bowes-Lyon

Scent: Ancient tapestries, ancestral books, and black tea resin. 

In collaboration with historian Gareth Russell for his latest biography, “Do Let’s Have Another Drink: The Singular Wit and Double Measures of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother,” Kleio’s latest candle is the Bowes-Lyon candle. Based on the scents from Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s childhood home, Glamis Castle, this candle transported me to a Downton Abbey-style castle. It felt like I was sitting in the drawing room reading a book while the Bowes-Lyon were discussing Elizabeth becoming the Duchess of York. 

If you would like to read my review of “Do Let’s Have Another Drink: The Singular Wit and Double Measures of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother” by Gareth Russell, you can find it here: https://adventuresofatudornerd.com/2022/12/13/book-review-do-lets-have-another-drink-the-singular-wit-and-double-measures-of-queen-elizabeth-the-queen-mother-by-gareth-russell/

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I found my KLEIO experience immersive and so unique. Each candle had its signature style and gave me a different sensory journey. I thoroughly enjoyed having a KLEIO candle next to me on a side table while curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. This is a perfect gift for any history lover in your life, of yourself,  especially if you want to experience the past from the comfort of your own home. I cannot wait to see and smell what new sensory adventure they will take their time travelers on next. 

 

If you want to explore KLEIO’s catalog or know more about their products and collaborations with the vast history community, check out their website: https://kleio.global/home

 

“Whitewashing” History: Good Idea or Something to be Avoided?

Herodotus, the father of the study of history, once said that the study of history was used “to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own and of other peoples.”(Herodotus, 41). As we study the past, we tend to make our own opinions about what we study and the people who made these “achievements” possible. Unfortunately, there is a trend within the study of history of making historical figures look either perfect (whitewashing) or pure evil (what I will refer to as blackening). So since these are trends in history, are they good or bad?

 

There are those in Tudor history who have been either whitewashed or blackened throughout time; Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary I, Elizabeth I, and  the most famous example of this is Richard III. We will use Richard III as an example on how “white washing” and “blackening” works.

 

A lot of people nowadays, specifically the Richard III Society, believe that Richard III had his name tarnished by men like Thomas More and Edward Hall. Thomas More is labeled as the man who ruined Richard’s reputation by stating that Richard was “malicious, wrathful, envious, and from afore his birth, ever forward”( Sylvester, 8). However, More was not the only one who blackened Richard’s name as we see with a quote from Hall:

Behold yonder Richard, tyrant worse than Nero, for he has not only murdered his nephew, bastardized his noble brothers and defamed the womb of his virtuous mother, but also employed all the means he could invent to carnally know his own niece under the pretence of a cloaked matrimony….(Dockray, 139).

 

If you read both of these accounts, you can see where the Richard III Society is coming from, yet they argue for a more whitewashed version of Richard III, that he was a victim of propaganda against him. They acknowledge the virtues and ignore the faults; the Tudor historians, it can be argued, do the exact opposite. So where’s the truth? I believe that a contemporary of Horace Walpole named William Hutton, an English poet and historian puts this discussion of Richard’s character into perspective:

 

Richard the Third, of all the English monarchs, bears the greatest contrariety of character….Some few have conferred on him almost angelic excellence, have clouded his errors and blazoned every virtue that could adorn a man. Others, as if only extremes could prevail, present him in the blackest dye; his thoughts were evil, and that continually, and his actions diabolical; the most degraded mind inhabited the most deformed body… (Dockray, 149).

 

Hutton is pointing out that Richard is either all good or all bad, according historians. This seems to be a common theme with historians about any historical figure. Henry VII is either described by Polydore Vergil in his book “Angelica Historia” as “shrewd and prudent”(Ellis, 226) or as Jack Lander writes, “an inexperienced political adventurer; an almost pathetic, rootless exile, in whom the powerful and rich could repose little, if any, confidence.”(Dockray, 176).

 

And it’s not just these two figures in Tudor history that  are seen as being either “white washed” or “blackened”. Henry VIII is viewed as the king who had six wives and the king who split from the Catholic Church, but we don’t see his intellectual side. Mary I is known as “Bloody Mary” for burning Protestants, but we never really understand why she was so strong in her faith. We think of Elizabeth I as a glorious  virgin ruler but we forget about how cruel she could be towards those who were around her. Thomas “The Admiral” Seymour is viewed as a villain who only wanted power, but is there more to his story?

 

These were complex people and yet we see them through either a “white washed” or “blackened” lense. This is the danger of this movement. We don’t see these people as “human” but rather almost like fictional heroes or villains. That’s just the thing. We have to realize that these people were humans and that they were flawed. They have elements of both good and evil inside of them. No one is perfect, yet we tend to think of historical figures at perfect.

 

As historians, amateur or professional, we have a responsibility to show both sides of a historical figure, the good and the bad. Sure we all have our favorite people to study in history and we want to think the best about them but we also have to tell the truth about them. What’s the point about studying the past if we only report about one side of the story? We read about our favorite people from multiple historians and multiple sources to find out what they were really like.

 

We don’t want others to label us so why do we label historical figures? We are humans, just like the kings and queens of the past, so why can’t we see their vices and virtues? Why do we “whitewash” or “blacken” human beings who lived hundreds of years ago?

 

If we “whitewash” or “blacken” a historical figure, we don’t get to see what made them who they are. We don’t see both the mistakes and the triumphs; we only see one or the other. “Whitewashing” and “blackening” history are ideas that should be avoided because we don’t see the full story of the people who came before us. If we let these ideas continue, we lose part of history. We have to tell both sides, the good and the bad because that is what makes us human. We are not perfect and neither were those who came before us.

 

Sources

 

Dockray, Keith. William Shakespeare, the Wars of the Roses and the Historians.      Charleston, SC: Tempus Publishing INC, 2002.

Ellis, Sir Henry. Three Books of Polydre Vergil’s English History, Compromising the Reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III. London: Camden Society, 1844.

Herodotus. Herodotus: The Histories. New York: Penguin, 1954.

Sylvester, Richard S. St. Thomas More: The History of King Richard III and Selections from the English and Latin Poems. London: Yale University Press, 1976.