There are two personal reasons why I am featuring Jabberwocky Candles in the Product Corner…
I love candles. These candles are food and booze-inspired. Even better!
The entrepreneur behind the candles lives in Philadelphia but hails from the same area of the coal region I come from.
Chief Chandler Peter Miernicki, originally from Frackville, is on a mission to introduce Boilo, a traditional coal region holiday liqueur, to the rest of the world. He decided that the “aroma” of boilo needed to be enjoyed all year round, so he came up with the idea of capturing the scent of boilo in a candle. It took him 4 years to get the candle right.
But what exactly is Boilo?
Boilo is a moonshine or whiskey cocktail prepared by boiling the booze with citrus fruits (such as oranges and lemons), herbs and spices (such as nutmeg, cloves, caraway seed, and anise seed), and other ingredients such as honey and ginger. A mulled spirit if you will. There are many variations and recipes, but one thing is certain – it’s not the holiday season in the coal region without it!
The candles got off to a slow start last year, but with some local press coverage and vending at local markets, he’s found decent success. This year he launched a fully functional e-commerce website which has received orders from coal region ex-pats all over the country. In fact, he just shipped a case of candles to South Carolina.
Miernicki also offers Cranberry Jam and Pumpkin Pie scented candles for the fall season.
All candles are made from premium quality ingredients with natural essential oils, lead-free wicks, and come in 100% recyclable glass jars. Burn time on each small batch candle is approximately 60-65 hours. I haven’t put my samples to the test yet, but looking forward to trying them this weekend.
Eager to learn more, I sent some questions to Peter…
1) How is the candle business going so far?
Every week is better than the last. Once someone tries a Jabberwocky Candle they tend to stick with us. I didn’t get any press coverage until Christmas Eve last year. The second people read the story, people rushed the Boyer’s Food Markets in Frackville. I had to restock the store 3 times that day and I was getting orders from all over the country. The store manager had to post security at the shelf to stop people from fighting over them. It was crazy. There was no way just me making candles at home could keep up with the demand. I was back-ordered until February.
This year I went up to Massachusetts, the Scented Candle Capital of the world, to partner with some industry veterans. This allows for me to pick their brains and use top of the line resources to make the best candle possible. Last year I was in one Boyer’s Food Market location, this year I’m in 14. The major candle brands have been bought and sold so many times they cut as many corners possible to up their margin. I’m using it as an opportunity to sell the best candle possible at a reasonable price.
I also sell online at http://www.jabberwockycandles.com. It’s a totally different business selling a scent over the internet compared to in person.
2) How many times per day do you have to explain what boilo is?
Too many, but when someone knows what I’m talking about their eyes instantly light up and it’s a great instant bond that’s formed. When I initially reached out to you we had the same situation.
I use it as an opportunity to A/B test what works. I used to rattle off the ingredients and eyes would glaze over. I started to tell the story of how European immigrants were trying to recreate a drink from their homeland and it evolved into this cult-like following generations later. Now people kind of get it, but you really must make it/drink it to really “get it.” The good news is that I’m able to sell the candle to people that never heard of boilo, because they still love the scent.
3) Do you have a favorite boilo recipe?
My favorite Boilo recipe is from the time we accidentally bought huge oranges, that turned out to be grapefruits. I was the only one that could drink it, but I love grapefruit juice. I ‘m a traditionalist when it comes to making it. Currently, I’m refining a recipe to share with the world.
Over the past few years, Boilo has evolved into a style of cocktail as opposed to a specific recipe and that really excites me. There are a growing number of different types of boilo: apple pie, blueberry, peach. I look forward to the episode of Masterchef where they’re making boilo. It’s going to happen. Once the culinary world finds out about Boilo they’re going to go nuts. My prediction is Boilo will be the IPA of the growing craft cocktail movement.
4) Do you have any other scents planned?
I view candles as a craft and not a commodity, so a lot goes into a new fragrance. I’m a big fan of custom scents that are unlike what anybody else is doing. As I grow, I can guarantee I’m going to try some very interesting fragrances. Jabberwocky Candles is the company that makes unique candles that you will actually buy and use.
I get a lot of people asking for a cheesesteak candle, but I just don’t think people want their homes to smell like steak and onions that bad.
I’m hoping to get one or two more scents out by the end of the year. Next year I’ll be adding more traditional scents that will be available year-round. Depending on how Boilo evolves I have some room to innovate there as well.
5) Since you live in Philly, where do you like to go eat?
My favorite spot is Shiri Hana. It’s the most authentic Japanese Restaurant in the city. American Sardine Bar is also a favorite, because they’re known to serve Boilo from time to time. I also believe that Philadelphia is low-key one of the major BBQ cities in the United States.
6) Anything else we should know?
I’m hoping to get funding together for a Boilo Documentary next year. I spoke with executives at the company that makes 4 Queens Whiskey. They verified that Boilo is what keeps the 4 Queens brand alive. Schuylkill County is also the number one buyer of 4 Queens Whiskey in the world.
With the holiday and gift-giving season coming soon, these would make a fine gift; the Boilo candle especially for someone originally from the coal region. Check it out and tell ’em Philly Grub sent ya.
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Independent Journalist. Food marketing/PR expert.