Scenes, Snacks and Scents: The Perfect Film, Food and Candle Pairings

Everyone has at least one favourite movie. You know the one: You’ve seen it more times than you can count, you can recite the dialogue word-for-word and can probably find any excuse to insert a fitting quote from it into everyday life.

For decades, studios, manufacturers and cinemas have been coming up with ways to try to immerse you in the movie-watching experience and rediscover old favourites in new ways, whether it’s 3D Imax Cinemas, D-Box theatres or special themed screenings (like Secret Cinema’s impressive outdoor Back to the Future event).

Sadly, the most enticing of those can often be prohibitively expensive, but if you’re too far from 4D cinemas, D-Box locations and special event screenings, here’s a fun and inexpensive way to revisit rewatchable classics and cult favourites at home: Embrace your inner William Castle, ditch the popcorn for a more fitting, movie-appropriate snack and light a candle that immerses you in the movie’s setting for that 21st Century Smell-O-Vision effect.

Here’s a bunch of film, food and candle combinations for you to try out:

The best action movie ever and the greatest Christmas film all rolled into one, Die Hard has become a yearly tradition for countless movie lovers, offering essential counter-programming to the sentimental schmaltz of festive family movies.

Hard-luck everyman cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as the swanky skyscraper housing his estranged wife’s corporate Christmas party is taken hostage by terrorists with John trapped inside.

One man against many, McClane single-handedly picks off the bad guys one by one, rekindles his love for his wife and starts a new festive tradition: Blowing away countless terrorists on December 24th.

The delicious cake snack of choice for Sgt. Al Powell – McClane’s cop compadre on the outside. They pack enough yummy nutrition that even a bite or two of a “thousand-year-old” Twinkie found on his travels is enough to give McClane the terrorist-killing energy he needs to save the day.

Die Hard and Twinkies go together like sugar-enriched flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, polysorbate 60 and Yellow Dye No. 5. Just everything a growing boy (or girl) needs.

Yankee Candle offer a metric crapload of festive candle choices, but while Die Hard is set at Christmas, the balmy L.A. location of the first movie doesn’t lend itself to their snowier scents.

Instead, light the Christmas Garland candle to get in the spirit and recreate the smell of Nakatomi Plaza’s lavish decorations and their impressively huge Christmas tree.

If you want to double down with John McClane’s second holiday adventure, grab another box of Twinkies to celebrate the return of Al Powell and swap out the Christmas Garland candle for the Yankee Candle Icicles scent.

The frosty smell will put you in McClane’s chilly shoes for the snowy sequel, plus there’s the fun irony of icicles being the movie’s most effective impromptu weapon of choice.

Another festive favourite in which precocious punk Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left home alone by his parents while they jet off on a family Christmas vacation and ditch him by mistake.

The novelty of being the rule-free kid king of the castle soon wears off as he has to use his wits and some improvised booby traps to fend off a couple of bungling burglars trying to rob the house.

It’s a heartwarming story of slapstick hijinks and Christmas miracles – like Kevin somehow not getting taken away from his negligent parents by social services, even after they ditch him again in the sequel.

Or, more specifically: a lovely cheese pizza just for you.

Between the $122.50 family pizza delivery at the beginning of the film and Kevin finally getting his coveted margherita meal, Italy’s greatest edible export is the perfect fit for a Home Alone viewing.

Have it delivered and you can join in on the meta-movie hi-jinks by scaring the bejesus out of the delivery driver in the most hilarious way you can think of, like playing them a few tracks from Macauley Culkin’s pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band.

If the pizza wasn’t filling enough, prep for the third act by recreating Kevin’s pre-siege meal: Microwave mac ‘n’ cheese. And there’s always that mountainous ice cream sundae for desert!

Yankee offer a variety of snow-themed candles (including the daftly-named ‘Snow in Love’) but this one fits perfectly with a holiday movie set on and around the snowy streets of upper-middle-class suburbia.

Family man Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) and his neighbours start to suspect that the reclusive, eccentric Klopek family who just moved in next door might be a sinister cult.

This massively underrated Joe Dante comedy-horror classic boasts a great cast (Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman, Rick Ducommun and everyone’s favourite Dante regular: Dick Miller) and is ripe for rewatching.

Arrow Video put out a fantastic Blu-ray set for it not long ago, including an alternate ending and a previously-unseen workprint cut of the movie, giving a great excuse to revisit it.

In one of the film’s more memorable scenes, Ray and his wife head round to meet/snoop on the neighbours, where they’re offered some horrible-looking makeshift snacks from the shifty Klopeks.

If you’re feeling brave, you can join in with Ray’s social endurance test by having your own sardine-on-pretzel appetizer. If you’re weak of stomach, though, you can avoid spending the second half of the movie throwing up in the bathroom and switch out the sardines for much tastier gummi fish sweets.

Failing that, there’s always a plate of brownies that may or may not have been on the ground (“Something for the old sweet tooth!”) or you could opt for coffee and a box of Animal Crackers: Ray’s survivalist pal Rumsfield’s rooftop stakeout meal of choice.

What better scented backdrop to immerse you in a suburban American cul-de-sac setting than the smell of freshly mowed lawns?

Yankee have Riding Mower, one of their gimmicky ‘Man Candles’ range, which is just a renamed, repackaged version of Green Grass, so either one of those is a great fit.

If you have trouble tracking those down, there’s also Lily Flame’s Freshly Cut Grass as an alternative.

Young hotshot cop Brian O’Conner (the sadly-departed Paul Walker) goes undercover in the illegal street racing scene to take down a crew staging high-speed cargo truck robberies. Brian finds himself in too deep as the allure of the illegal car circuit and his bromance with charismatic criminal leader Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) makes it all too hard to arrest the gang.

Who knew that this uncredited Point Break remake would spawn the most consistently great action franchise Hollywood has to offer? Half-a-dozen sequels later and the Fast & Furious series is still going strong. With the 7th entry due in just a few months, now’s a great time to revisit the series for a catch-up rewatch.

The first one might pale in comparison to the escalating thrills and character additions of the progressively better sequels (aside from the 4th movie, which is the franchise weak link) but it still holds up incredibly well.

It’s easy to forget that the family-centric emotional through-line of the Fast & Furious franchise all starts with a tuna sandwich with the crusts cut off.

Brian endures three weeks of daily crappy tuna sandwiches to spend time at future soul mate Mia Toretto’s family store/diner and the first time he meets brother-from-another-mother Dom Toretto is in a scuffle over said sandwich.

Fix yourself one of Brian’s very particular lunches to snack on during the movie, wash it down with a Corona (the gang’s refreshing beer of choice) and pour one out for Paul while you’re at it.

Weirdly, there’s a surprising amount of candles trying to replicate the smell of gasoline and garages out there, with plenty of options from independant stores and Etsy.

The appropriately-named Stinky Candles, who trade in gimmicky, mostly unpleasant scents (‘Urinal,’ ‘Body Odour’ and ‘Bile’ are but three of their less-than-appealing smells) win out for sheer variety though. Their Gasoline, Exhaust-ed and Motor Oil scents offer a trio of Fast & Furious-friendly options for that immersive ‘my house smells like someone parked their car on my rug’ experience.

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost graduated from making cult classic TV with Spaced to becoming one of the silver screen’s most treasured geek trios when they made Shaun of the Dead. The first ‘Zom-Rom-Com’, the film charts the coming-of-age story of manchild Shaun, who learns to take his first long-delayed steps into adulthood, all while fending off a British zombie outbreak.

The impeccably crafted, wonderfully layered script litters the film with all manner of subtle set-ups and pay-offs, sly sight gags and quotable dialogue that rewards repeat viewing, making it an endlessly rewatchable movie.

The tasty ice cream hangover cure of Shaun’s best friend Ed wound up being the first link in Edgar Wright’s spiritually-connected ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy as a distinct flavour pops up in each one. There’s red (Strawberry) for the bloody zombie movie Shaun of the Dead, blue (Original Vanilla) for the cop spoofery of Hot Fuzz and green (Mint) for the sci-fi alien invasion comedy The World’s End. So, naturally, Strawberry is the go-to choice here.

If you really want to get into the spirit of the film, you can always try to short-change the person at the shop by “about 15p” when paying for your Cornetto, though your mileage may vary wildly when it comes to getting away with that.

Another of Yankee’s unfortunately-named ‘Man Candles’ line of products (Wait, women can’t enjoy the smell of bacon or freshly-cut grass? Men aren’t supposed to enjoy the smell of vanilla?!) ‘On Tap’ promises to evoke the pub smells of just-poured draft beer – ideal for conjuring up the atmosphere of The Winchester, Shaun’s home-away-from-home and the gang’s third-act zombie apocalypse shelter.

Sure, you could just pour yourself a beer and sniff that, but this is the next best thing to recreating the smell of your local pub in your living room without pouring beer in the carpet, sprinkling stale peanuts all over the coffee table and peeing in the corner (if you hadn’t done all that already.)

One of Amblin Entertainment’s most fondly-remembered family films and the birthplace of a new brand of childhood trauma for fat kids everywhere: The Truffle Shuffle.

As their parents face being forced out of their homes due to an expansion of the local country club, Mikey (Sean Astin) and his gang of misfit friends – “The Goonies” – set out on one last adventure, hoping to find the legendary priceless pirate treasure of One-Eyed Willy and prevent having to move away from each other.

Corey Feldman and Sean Astin have been threatening a sequel for a good twenty years, but now’s as good a time as any to remind yourself why no sequel could recapture the ’80s magic of the original.

Vicariously relive the Sloth and Chunk bonding experience by having the gentle giant’s favourite desert – rocky road ice cream – while watching the film and treat yourself to some of his beloved Baby Ruth chocolate bars, too.

Between the ice cream and eating a Baby Ruth during every Sloth appearance, you’ll undoubtedly have Type 2 diabetes by the time the credits roll, but it’ll be worth it!

For the waterside setting of the Astoria ‘Goon Docks’ and the wet-’n'-wild cavebound action later in the film, this fresh coastal scent should do the trick.

One of the smartest, funniest and most quotable films of the ’00s (and a sad reminder that Lindsay Lohan’s career used to be full of potential.) This Tina Fey-scripted high school comedy sees new girl Cady Heron (Lohan) and her outsider friends stage a plan to dethrone resident bitch clique ‘The Plastics’.

If you really want to get into the spirit of things, don’t forget to abide by the Plastics’ dress code if you’re watching with friends:

  • If you’re watching on Wednesdays, wear pink.

  • Only wear jeans or sweat pants if you’re watching the film on Friday.

Naturally, anyone breaking the dress code can’t sit with the group and should give up their cushy sofa spot to park their butt on the floor.

Second-in-command mean girl Gretchen Weiners’ dad – the inventor of Toaster Strudel – doesn’t seem like a guy you’d want on your bad side, so honour the man during the movie by eating his snack products.

That said, Toaster Strudel is pretty hard to come by outside the US, so maybe you want to contribute to Gretchen’s downfall in your own way by supporting the main competitor of her dad’s product: Pop Tarts.

Nothing says ‘Mean Girls’ like taking down your rivals in as indirect and passive-aggressive a way possible, so savour every bite, knowing you’re helping to slowly put the fictional Weiners family in the poor house, thus defeating The Plastics one delicious pastry treat at a time.

And if you’re especially tired of counting carbs, follow queen bee Regina George’s lead and just get some cheese fries.

For maximum immersion, go with Yankee Candle’s ‘Candy Cane Lane’ scent. You’ll not only pick up the festive vibes of the Winter Talent Show, but you’ll be able to share in the success of North Shore High School secret superstud Glen Coco as he gets his four candy canes! You go, Glen Coco!

As an added bonus, the peppermint smell will make it feel like Regina George and her minty foot-face are sat right next to you through the film. That’s about as grool as it gets!