by Austin Blaze, Jasper Intern
“Have your cake and burn it too!” It sounds like the catchphrase of some wild-eyed tv arsonist. But it’s not some cheesy criminal mantra. Far less illicit, far more original. In fact, it’s the tag line for the Columbia-based Southern Baked Candle Company.
Candles have a somewhat intangible appeal. Whether it’s the domesticated flame, the fragrance, or the nostalgia of a pre-electric past, they have a unique tendency to make a house feel like home. But to owner and life-long candle enthusiast Debey Hancock, this wasn’t enough.
“There were several things about candles in general that truly disappointed me,” Hancock said, reminiscing about her childhood. “They never smelled as good at home as they did in the store; when you burn it, you are left with an ugly hunk of wax or an empty jar, and finally you’re left with the same scent until it’s gone.”
The resolution to Hancock’s candle conundrum came in the form of her other passion: baking. After years of people expressing their wishes to preserve her intricate and beautiful desserts, she came up with the idea to merge baking and candle-making into an ambitious business endeavor. For 10 years she researched and experimented, “set[ting] out to find out just what can be done with wax” and “tak[ing] the art of candle-making to a new level,” as she learned to craft ornate food-themed candles.
When asked to detail her process, she admitted that she attempts things that “most master candlers would never even consider.” This claim seems lofty until you’ve seen her work. All 100% wax, though you’d never guess it at first glance. And when you consider that there “are only seconds between too hot to mold and too hard, and split seconds between frosting and cottage cheese,” her work is all that much more impressive.
Because the Southern Baked Candle Company not only accepts, but encourages special orders, Hancock has crafted everything from the majestic Eiffel Tower, to the all-American baseball, to the bizarre “pile of poo that smelled like roses.” She’s created bottles and shoes for baby showers, cakes for weddings, and a cup of coffee for Good Day Columbia’s “Mugshot.”
Though some of her most impressive creations are custom orders, her stock repertoire is extraordinary in quality as well as variety. Pies, milkshakes, stacks of pancakes, and her personal favorite, (although she admits it’s difficult to choose just one of her “babies”) a burger, fries, and a beer. All of these candles burn straight down the center, so your cake or pie maintains its shape even after burning. In addition, Hancock’s candles feature interchangeable inserts; if you grow tired of one scent, simply swap it out for one of Southern Baked Candle Company’s other 300 unique, quality “flavors.”
To truly appreciate the craftsmanship practiced by Hancock’s company, you have to see these candles for yourself. Visit http://www.thesouthernbakedcandlecompany.com to browse their collection, or to special order a one-of-a-kind candle of your choice.