Not long ago, I came across two small boxes of vintage Victorian candles in an antique shop. The top of the boxes featured Victorian ladies looking happily respectable. But the bottom had pictures of scantly-clad Victorian gals with a certain come-hither look.
At first I thought it was just a match company’s attempt at saucy marketing. But then I noticed the little metal ring where you place the candle as it burns. And that’s when I realized — these were brothel candles. I immediately bought them, because hello, brothel candles!
Brothel candles were used extensively in European brothels between 1880 and 1905. They were also popular in the Western United States during the Gold Rush years. The concept was simple. You paid your price of admission, so to speak, and then you and your rent-a-date would head to the Room of Requirement.
Okay, Potter Heads, before you accuse me of implying Ginny Weasley is a whore, please know I would never do that. Harry is obviously the whore in this scenario.
Anyway, back to the candles. The Lady of the Night would light the wick and you’d get busy. A brothel candle burned for approximately seven minutes. When the candle went out, you were done. Even if you weren’t, technically, done. Some ladies would trim the candles down, so they’d burn for even less time. To which I say, good on ya, gals.
The fact that brothel candles burn for 7 minutes got me thinking. What if this was the origin story for the party game, “Seven Minutes in Heaven?” I did a little digging. The kissing game first became popular in the early 1950s in Cincinnati. Apparently teens in Cinncy were smooching and pawing each other so much in suburban closets, that Reverend Benjamin Judd of the local Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church called the activity the “Devil’s Game.”
Well, apparently the Devil likes a good board game night just as much as we do, so the company Topco came up with an official version of the teen party grope trope. And as the box says, kissing in a dark closet is fun for 2 to 12 people.
I couldn’t find any hard evidence that proved the 7-minute burn time on a brothel candle inspired the game “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” but I’m gonna believe it did. Although I don’t think a board game called “7-minute fuck candle” would have sold as well.
I could be wrong, though. Gwyneth Paltrow recently started selling a candle that smells like her vagina, so I suppose a board game called “Seven Minute Fuck Candle” isn’t far behind. Call me, Hasbro.