Necco Wafers

Necco Wafers

There are a number of candies that just seem like they have always been here. And that’s because their invention far exceeds any of our lifespans. And if you ever wanted to know what the oldest continually-produced candy in America is, look no further than those powdery quarter-shaped wafers, known the world over as Necco.

For starters, Necco candies come in eight assorted flavors: orange, lemon, lime, clove, chocolate, cinnamon, licorice and wintergreen, each with the name NECCO printed on the surface. For the chocolate Necco fan, rolls consisting entirely of chocolate flavored Necco’s are also available. The science geek may be interested to know that, like wintergreen Lifesavers, wintergreen Necco’s (the white ones) also have the ability to emit sparks when chewed or snapped in half in the dark.

So how did it all begin? Well, In 1849, a man by the name of Oliver Chase invented two machines that revolutionized the confection industry: a wafer cutting machine and a sugar pulverizer. He went on to start Necco (short for New England Confectionary Company) and began producing his wafers. Later, in 1866, his brother, Daniel, developed the “lozenge printing machine” and the company began marketing what they called “conversational candies” with messages printed on them. These eventually became what we call Sweethearts. This iconic company also brought us a few other treats over the years, notably the Clark Bar, Skybar, and Mary Jane candies. Suffice to say, Necco made its impact on the candy world. In 1980, they even acquired the rights to those little candy buttons that are stuck to strips of white paper. (You know the ones.)

Necco wafers are surprisingly durable and resistant to shock and heat, making them an ideal candy to ship over long distances. In the 1930s, Admiral Robert Byrd took 2.5 tons of the candy to the South Pole for him and his men to help them survive. During WWII, most of the wafers Necco produced were shipped to the troops overseas.

And luckily for the connoisseur of the candy wafer, Necco is still going strong, having just built a new, 810,000 square foot candy factory in Revere, MA. The company has recently altered the wafers slightly by switching to all natural flavors, proving that these wafers continue to evolve, even if it’s at a rather glacial pace. Hey, we’re just happy that we can stick pick up a roll when the mood strikes.

If Necco Wafers were a staple of your sugary diet as a kid, or even if you just found their flavors weird, share your memories with all of us in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this timeless candy.

12 Responses to “Necco Wafers”

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  1. mwsmedia says:

    I really like Necco Wafers, but I don’t eat them that often… now, though, I’m going to have to get a pack to see if they’ve mucked up the taste in the name of going natural. When does the roll-out occur?

    Also: thanks for finally revealing what :Necco” stands for! It’s an answer to a question I didn’t even know needed asking.

  2. Wishnick59 says:

    The dark chocolate sounds yummy.

  3. egeezer says:

    We called the folks at NECCO. They said they are re-introducing the variety packages with all the different flavors. ( dated June 2011 )

  4. Janice says:

    Someone gave me a box of necco candy. We are trying to find out some information on it
    and was wondering if you could help me. It is a wooden box, like the size that cigars would come in. On the outside, it has pictures of Circus characters and animals, and says
    “Necco Television Candy” and inside are different color of wafers with different animals or Circus characters on them. Would you know the year these were made ?

    Thank you,

    Janice

    • eric says:

      Hi Janice,
      Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer you seek. Hopefully, another reader may be able to help. Best of luck to you!

    • Pat says:

      Janice, I also have one of those wooden boxes. And it appears that these candies were first introduced at the 1939 Chicago worlds fair. The candy was to be held up to a light source to (on the lighter side) and the figures would appear to be moving. Just wondering if you still have some of the candies left?
      -Pat

  5. roxanne says:

    Always have loved Necco wafers, even though, when I was little, I used to call them “Nickle Wafers”! When I was making my communion, Fr. Jelly substituted them for the host during communion practice. All the other priests used the unconsecrated hosts…..

    I found the rolls of chocolate wafers many years ago at a candy shop in Mississippi and sent a whole box up to my cousin….she loved it! Now they can be found in many places….

  6. Kapatsos says:

    I still buy these every so often

  7. jim says:

    It was the only candy I could buy for a nickel as a young child that would last through an entire Saturday matinee of 20 cartoons, cliff hanger serials and a double (sometimes triple) feature western in the late forties.

  8. Lynn says:

    Necco Wafers! I have a soft spot for those even if they’re 100% pure sugar and no good for your teeth.

  9. Bethany says:

    My mother introduced me to these in my childhood, and passed along a tradition that *she* did as a child–in a dark room, breaking the white and yellow wafers in half will produce a little spark! I’m not sure why. Did anyone else ever do this?

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