Photograph by Jessica Turner.
BRYCE MURPHREE KITCHEN something new in the kitchen, but his creations are not for eating. The enticing smells are emitted by the scented candles that the chef makes from recycled cans.
Murphree was in between chef jobs when he started making candles to give as gifts to family and friends. Subconsciously, he mixed together essential oils and scents that smelled of the food he so often prepared in the kitchen. Customers quickly salivated over candles with pineapple cilantro, orange pepper and applewood smoked bacon.
In 2018, Murphree and his wife, Maggie, founded Gluttony Candles and began selling the products online and at local farmers’ markets. The couple’s booth is popular with shoppers drawn to the bright colors and unique branding.
“I’m into bright colors, flavors and smells,” says Murphree. “With a box, I can color the wax, but you won’t see it if it’s on a shelf. “
Initially, Bryce made candles in empty, uncrimped boxes that he bought at the store. He was concerned that customers would cut themselves on the sharp edges and started testing a tampon. He melted crayons and hot glue sticks in the oven, then dipped his cans into the liquid to create an eye-catching drip that brightens the package and protects consumers from the steep edges.
But the couple soon discovered that empty cans cost more than those with food in them. Murphree mobilized his contacts in the food industry and obtained the donation of their empty cans. When people started eating at home during the pandemic, he asked neighbors on social media to leave their used containers at his door on Ellsworth Avenue. Donate enough and you might get a free candle.
It also accepts cans with the food still inside. He will give the contents to a soup kitchen or make something from the gift. Diced tomatoes are one of the cheapest canned foods, and he turned donations into free salsa for donors.
“We like to give back as much as we can,” he says.
In addition to using recycled materials for the candle jars, Murphree makes their product with clean-burning soy wax which emits less soot than traditional paraffin wax. Soy candles also burn more slowly, which means they last longer. Gluttony candles have a lifespan of up to 75 hours and are just as scented on the last burn as they are on the first.
More than 25 fragrances are available at any time. The best seller has always been wild arugula, followed by other popular options like grapefruit mint, latte, and honey lavender. Seasonal scents, such as roasted pumpkin and Christmas hearth, are introduced several times a year.
Only two candles, campfire and boot leather, are not flavored with food. They are intended for men but appeal to anyone who likes earthy scents.
“Everyone’s sense of smell is different and unique,” says Maggie Murphree. “They will pick up different scents with each candle. Give them plenty of options, and you’ll have something for everyone.