Magdalena has encountered tomato candles in restaurants on several occasions over the years, specifically Roma Heirloom Tomato by Flamingo Estate. “I just haven’t bit the bullet on buying it because I know I can go to this wine bar near my house that burns it every day to indulge,” she adds with a laugh. When Richard Christiansen was creating the “rich and vibrant” scent profile for Roma Heirloom Tomato, he wanted to conjure the decadence of late-night summer dinner parties in Sicily through an aroma of “freshly crushed tomato leaves, hand-harvested aromatic herbs, and a hint of spice.” As he further explains, “On the surface it’s earthy and green, and as it burns, it releases complex layers that are peppery and fresh—anchored by the aroma of tomato vine, basil, and black pepper.”
Scott Haven, co-owner and creative director at Homecoming, recalls how the brand’s signature Tomato Vine candle, made in collaboration with Joya Studio, was the sleeper hit that became a staple in many homes, shops, and restaurants in New York (and beyond). “It’s a scent that sits with you and offers a calming, less up-front presence,” he writes in an email. “I think it helps bring us to a fresh outdoor feeling without being as up-front as directly floral or woody scents.” Frederick Bouchardy, owner of Joya Studio, describes the candle as “hyper green” with a snappy and alarming effect on the senses. “I think most tomato (plant, leaf) scents are, but this one is ultraverdant, raw, leafy. The traditional sandalwood/powdery iris base is a familiar foundation to come home to,” he adds.
The power of scent memory is real, so even if you’re not specifically craving the raw smell of tomatoes, who’s to say that you won’t be reminded of a meal shared with loved ones when you get a whiff of one of these candles? And in case you weren’t aware, tomatoes were once thought of as an aphrodisiac, so you might want to store that information for later use! The tomato is not a forbidden fruit, but an edible pleasure plucked from the vines of the divine. In the words of Magdalena, “Love it, here for it, will invest!”
The curvy shape
Like clockwork, you can always expect to see an uptick of interest in tomatoes toward the middle of summer. A few words that come to mind when describing a tomato are plump, luscious, and supple. Not to mention the smooth curvature of the tomato—it’s the original eye candy. While we’re at it, don’t forget about the vine! Richard refers to tomatoes as “the forbidden love apple” and is captivated by their “sensuous and romantic but grounded and earthy” nature. “I like to think we are Adam and Eve, not expelled from the Garden of Eden, but rather returning to it,” he adds. “[Tomato] reminds us to chase after pleasure and sensuality.”
The tangy taste
When you indulge in a bite of tomatoes, it tastes like summer. With more than 10,000 varieties to choose from, Magdalena insists that the tomato “represents some of the most delicious and heartwarming dishes,” from panzanella and gazpacho to TikTok’s viral baked feta pasta. “It offers a savory and acidic profile while also being a totally misunderstood power player within the fruit and vegetable families,” she adds. “They are one of a kind and there’s no way to disguise the flavor once it’s added to a dish.” Can I get a “yes, chef” from the crowd?
The zest for life vibe
Based on what I’ve gathered, the essence of the tomato girl is someone who likes to indulge in luxurious thrills. (Forget “girl dinner,” she’s above that.) Though the tomato girl summer moodboards on TikTok lean toward scenes from the Mediterranean coast—or as GQ staff writer Eileen Cartter calls it, “La Dolce Vita lifestyle”—I think it’s really about recognizing the simple pleasures that life has to offer. Magdalena points to the oyster tomatoes served at Gem Wine, noting that “if the LES girl became a tomato dish she would be this.” Her definition of tomato girl summer is “having an eye on what’s in season, a good taste for local produce, and a flexible palette—because you can make a tomato into a hundred different things.”