First things first: I strongly dislike summer. I’ll do anything possible to avoid high temperatures and strong sunlight, I never wear shorts or flip-flops, and I’m customarily immune to the appeal of any product claiming to evoke the experience of the beach. All the same, I couldn’t resist the packaging of The Swedish Summer Soap from Victorian Scandinavian Soap. The cheerful illustration of a sailboat beneath a sunny sky, the Swedish labeling on other side of the box (“Saltsjötvål” is the soap’s true name), and the promise that the soap “floats in fresh and salt water,” not that I have plans of using it anywhere other than my own shower — somehow, this all promises an ideal vision of a summer that would leave me feeling rosy-cheeked and optimistic rather than sweaty, dehydrated, and irritable.
Swedish Summer Soap is tinted canary-yellow, and it does indeed produce more than enough soft lather to wash away the aforementioned sweat, or sand, or whatever your own summer debris might be. Even more striking than its color is its fragrance. My first impression was “lemon,” which altered to “citronella” as soon as I actually used the soap. Until now, I’d forgotten all about the citronella candles of my 1970s youth, which we placed on the backyard picnic table to repel mosquitoes and other flying pests. The candles’ aggressively chemical citrus odor was contained within globes of jewel-colored faceted glass, deep red or blue, that were in turn encased in white mesh sheathes. (What was the mesh for? for safer handling of the candles? I’m still not sure.) I loved the way those candles looked when they were lit in the dark, and their aroma became one of the signature smells of our suburban summers. If fireflies had a fragrance, for me, they would smell just like those citronella candles.
I’m sure the soap-makers of Victoria Scandinavian Soap, “Purveyor to the Swedish Royal Court,” didn’t intend this soap to stir up reminiscences of July evenings in New Jersey. However, I don’t think they would mind too much. Scent memory is personal, and their soap’s lemony bite of fragrance is my own reminder of summers past.
(One last note: I am fanatically devoted to Victoria’s petite oval bars of Eggwhite Facial Soap, whose packaging is even more adorable than the Summer Soap box. They don’t have any discernable scent, however, so I’ve never been able to justify giving them their own review.)