CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 11, 2018: The New England Candy Co. is known through its eponymous Necco Wafer. Candy aficionados of a certain age wlll fondly recall the good old days when old time penny candy made every day seem like Halloween.
Among the sugary treasures that could be had for one or two cents were root beer barrels, peanut butter logs, wax lips and mustaches, fireballs, and licorice sticks. And bullseyes! Those caramel wrapped pieces of creamy sugar. While those luscious confections still exist today, they are harder to find, and that penny is more like a quarter in modern currency.
The New England Confectionery Company, Necco Wafers and more
One region that was especially prolific in making old-time penny candy was New England. In fact, many of us remember the name “Necco” which was famous for the invention of Necco Wafers.
“Necco” is short for the New England Confectionery Company (“Co”) which not only made Necco Wafers but also a variety of popular treats such as Clark Bars, Candy Buttons, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Mary Janes.
Mary Janes were those peanut butter filled hard toffee sweets that could literally rip the fillings from your teeth if you didn’t suck on them long enough to soften them up.
Necco doors may close
Imagine then the panic that set in on March 12 when the “Boston Globe” wrote a story about an announcement by Necco CEO Michael McGee that his candy company, which has been in existence since before the American Civil War, could be closing its doors within the next 60 days.
McGee’s words set off a panic buying spree unlike any that has ever been witnessed in the world of sweet toothery.
It’s the same phenomena that occur at gas stations when the weatherman predicts a hurricane, or in the south when the forecast calls for snow and suddenly grocery stores are unable to keep up with the demand for milk and bread.
Horror of horrors, what will the world be like if Necco Wafer disappear from the face of the Earth?
Necco buying panic
Shortly following McGee’s press conference, Necco’s sales spiked more than 50% and Necco Wafers alone soared to a whopping 63% increase. Talk about panic buying.
Online bulk candy stores like Candy Favorites, the first online candy company to offer Necco Wafers online, and the Los Angeles based CandyStore.com are currently stockpiling Necco candies in the event the looming candy crunch becomes a reality.
For the moment, the primary hurdle is attempting to figure out when the deliveries from Necco will stop. Since nobody seems to know, the panic continues.
Necco Wafers – love them or hate them
Oddly enough, in the case of Necco Wafers there appears to be a love/hate relationship among candy experts. You either love them or hate them with no in between.
In a poll conducted not so long ago to discover the favorite and least popular Halloween candies, Necco Wafers came in as the #4 worst.
Comments ranged from “They taste like Tums, only Tums are better”, to “If you’re making chalkboard art, then by all means”, and “Chalky, creepy, child-molester candy.”
On the positive side, one young woman named Katie offered to trade CandyStore.com her used Honda Accord for all of their Necco Wafers. In the end, Katie kept the car but did purchase a couple of boxes of her beloved Necco Wafers with her credit card.
Another elderly woman decided to buy 100 pounds of junior roll-sized Necco Wafers with the idea of vacuum sealing them in order to preserve the candy for the future and keep it as fresh as possible.
Chocolate Necco wafers are the favorite – will that change with new ownership?
Necco Wafer lovers will easily recall those nostalgic days long ago when the chocolate wafers were the most popular flavor of them all.
Necco was equal to the task of creating rolls containing nothing but chocolate wafers.
Should Necco survive this crisis in one manner or another, another serious problem looms on the horizon. Should a buyer come along to purchase the rights, will the candy remain the same?
New cooks, machinery, water, and climate could become major factors in whether or not Necco Wafers remain the Necco Wafers we all know and love (or hate.)
What if the new owners use cheaper ingredients or, for that matter, better ingredients. Either way, chances are that something will be different. For better or worse, it just won’t be the same.
As a result, candy suppliers across the country are asking potential investors for Necco to listen up and realize what an institution these delectable little treats have become to so many people. It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it, so to speak.
To participate in the campaign to save Necco, share the story and use the tag #SaveNecco.
Ironically, for trivia lovers, Necco is based in Revere, Massachusetts which derives its name from the famous midnight ride of silversmith Paul Revere during the American Revolution to warn patriots of that the British were on the move.
So get on your candy horses and ride through the country shouting “The skittish are coming, the skittish are coming!” as you consider the potential tragedy of losing another great American institution like Necco Wafers from your youth.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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