Hello! Welcome back to Sweet River’s, awesome, little candy blog! We hope that January, up here in Anoka, MN, finds you warm, sane, and happy. (We throw in sane because we know how being stuck inside, with closed windows, can make any person feel a little nuts after awhile. Especially, if you have young kids, or have trouble walking on the snowy/icy mess out there. You start to feel trapped pretty quickly.) Despite being busy getting ready for Valentine’s Day around the shop, we thought we’d wait to share some of our latest, V-Day chocolates, and treats until later–and, instead, today, focus on on oldie, but goodie–the Necco Wafer. (How random is that?) We were just talking to a customer about them, and she hated them, but we loved them…and, it got us to thinkin’–what IS it about those little candies that is so polarizing? We got curious, and started digging around for info on them (more than the little bits we already knew, anyway), and we found out some fun facts! So fun, in fact, that we’re gonna share them with you, today. :) (We’re a candy shop. We definitely feel like candy facts are fun. Despite how nerdy that may sound…) Plus, if you’re ever on a lame date, stuck in an awkward work meeting, or trying to make conversation in an elevator…any one of the little facts we’re gonna share would be a great ice breaker. (Or, a totally weird one. It all depends…)
First of all, did you know that Necco Wafers have been around since 1847!? Seriously. That’s longer than we’ve been flying, and driving in motorized vehicles. The recipe has remained unchanged, even after all of those years. (Well, except for that one time, in 2009 when they tried to go all natural. They meant well…but, turns out, everyone hated them and their sales dropped, big time. In 2011, they went back to the original recipe.)
Necco actually stands for, New England Confectionery Company; they’re the oldest candy maker in the states. They also, to this day, still make Candy Buttons, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mary Jane’s, Sky Bars, Canada Mints, Clark Bars, Sweethearts, Haviland Thin Mints, Slap Stix and Mighty Malts Malted Milk Balls.
They were invented by a man named Oliver Chase–he, actually, invented the machine to cut the wafers–called ‘hub wafers’. (We found this photo on Buzzfeed, and we’re thinking it came from the actual Necco site? Though, they have Facebook listed as the source. Also, we’re not sure if that’s good ‘ol Oliver or not…but, we like to pretend it is.)
There are eight flavors in that infamous roll: wintergreen, clove, chocolate, cinnamon, licorice, orange, lemon and lime. The chocolate ones are now, also, sold in a roll of their own. They make rolls of tropical flavors now, too.
Civil War Soldiers (yes, AMERICAN CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS), carried the ‘hub wafers’ with them. They were sweet, easy to carry, traveled well, and didn’t melt. WWII also saw US Soldiers enjoying these treats in their rations.
In 1913, Arctic explorer, Donald MacMillan, actually took them with on his trip to share with the Eskimo children he met along the way. Then, in the 1930’s, Admiral Byrd took 2.5 tons of them on his voyage to the Antarctic. Him, and his crew, would be there for two years, they needed some sweets; after all, they have a long shelf life and won’t get ruined in the cold weather. (Side note: isn’t it weird to think that there are still plenty of folks alive from when we used to make grand voyages, on boats, to explore the Antarctic? Technology really has come a long way, quickly, hasn’t it? We’re still not convinced that’s a good thing…)
Also, you might have caught it up there, but yes, Necco also makes all the little conversation hearts you’re seeing everywhere this time of year. (Well, they make the good ones, that is. :) )
Anyway, if you’re looking to grab a roll of wafers, suddenly, we do have them in. We highly recommend them if you’re departing on any grand voyages, or just looking for something sweet to stash in your glove box for a day when you get stuck in traffic. :)