Why Necco Wafers and Sweethearts Could Disappear from Store Shelves

As a rallying cry, “Save Necco!” might seem a bit farfetched. But nostalgic candy fans across the country are hoping that someone will step up and buy the New England Confectionery Co. saving not only jobs, but several brands of candy, including Necco Wafers.

On March 12, The Boston Globe reported that Necco chief executive Michael McGee had notified the mayor of Revere, Massachusetts, Brian Arrigo, as well as the state that the company would lay off most of its workforce — 395 people — if they could not close a deal with a potential buyer. The lay offs could happen as soon as early next month.

necco wafers
Necco

The layoffs would include candy makers, truck drivers, and machine operators, but the pain would be felt at the upper end of management as well since the chief financial officer and chief executive would also be affected by the action. The layoffs would effectively close the company.

Since the story was published, there’s been a rush of Necco fans panic buying the sugar wafer. Some people are buying in bulk from distributors, including some unique offers. CandyStore.com — who is all over the #SaveNecco effort — said they had been contacted by someone who offered to trade her car for all their wafer inventory.

Katie Samuels, who lives in Florida, sent the online candy distributor a picture of her Honda Accord and a note that she was willing to trade her car for all their Necco Wafers. Samuels confirmed to The Boston Globe that she made the offer.

“I offered to trade my 2003 Honda Accord for all of their stock,” she said. “I knew it was kind of a silly thing to say, but I’m serious. I don’t have much right now, so I was like, ‘I’ve got this car, and I want all that candy, so maybe they would consider it.'”

The paper also noted that schoolkids as far away as Oregon have written to the Revere mayor asking him to help save the company.

Necco Wafers Panic Buying from CandyStore.comSource: Bulk candy sales from CandyStore.com

CandyStore.com posted this graphic noting the spike in wafer sales. Then they had to go back and update the figures because the number jumped even more. Sales of Necco Wafers are up 150 percent with media coverage of the potential closing and overall Necco candy sales are up 82 percent.

It should be noted that Necco Wafers aren’t the only candy in jeopardy here. (It could also be noted that they’re not even the best, but let’s not start a candy war.) The company also makes Squirrel Nut Zippers, Slap Stix, Candy Buttons, Clark Bars, Mary Janes, and Sweethearts. Yes, this past Valentine’s Day may have been the last time you’ll be able to purchase the original and best candy conversation hearts on the market.

Some might say that the free market should decide what old fashioned products are meant to be saved and what should fall into the dustbins of history. And they’re not wrong. However, Necco is literally part of America’s story.

The candy company opened in 1847, making it the oldest continually operating candy maker in the U.S. There are unverified stories that Union soldiers carried Necco wafers with them during the Civil War, but by World War II the candy wafers were so popular that the U.S. government bought out most of the company’s production for American soldiers. And explorers like Admiral Richard Byrd and Donal MacMillan carried them on their journeys to Antarctica and the Arctic, respectively.


Fans of the candy are stepping up on social media with #SaveNecco in the hopes that a show of support for the company’s products will encourage a potential buyer to offer a sweet deal and save the historic candy company.
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