March 28, 2018 – By Clair Robins
Your favorite candy will always be around, right? When you think of panic-buying, you wouldn’t think of candy. But that is exactly what’s happening right now. People are panic-buying Necco wafers candy in bulk.
The panic began on March 12. That day the Boston Globe covered an announcement from Necco CEO, Michael McGee, that they could be shutting down within 60 days.
The Globe’s piece coincides with a marked spike in sales. Necco sales have spiked more than 50% more than 82%. Necco Wafers are up 63% 150%! A clear signal of panic-buying.
Short for New England Confectionary Company (“Co”), Necco is the maker of Necco Wafers, Mary Janes, Clark Bars, Candy Buttons, Squirrel Nut Zippers and more beloved old-fashioned candy. Maybe you’ve heard of Sweethearts candy conversation hearts – aka the most popular Valentine’s Day candy? Yeah, they make those too.
After months of trying to find a buyer, they haven’t been able to reach a deal. If no deal comes soon, hundreds of workers will be laid off and millions of candy lovers disappointed.
This is a big deal. Necco has been around since the mid 1800s. Almost all of their candies are legends in their own right. All of them are in jeopardy now.
The graph above illustrates daily sales for Necco Wafers in March this year on CandyStore.com. You can see where things change on the 12th and stay high above that until the time of this article on March 28. As a private company, we don’t share specific sales numbers. But you can see the relative change in sales. It’s not subtle.
Online bulk candy stores like CandyStore.com are stockpiling Necco candies, but orders are coming in fast. We contacted industry partners and distributors and they are reporting the same phenomenon. The big question is, when will the shipments stop coming?
No one can say, which only contributes to the panic.
Ok. Maybe you’re not a numbers or graphs type of person. I’m not. Sometimes I need a little more to really feel the situation. For all the touchy-feely emotional people like me, here are some non-financial-y data / anecdata for you:
She told us over the phone that she was in fact “dead serious.” She went on to say she doesn’t have much else to offer right now, and that her boyfriend drives her around in his truck mostly anyway. “Plus, there’s a bus station not too far if I need it.”
Katie estimated in her desperate pitch to us that the car could be worth up to $4,000. That would buy a lot of Necco wafers. “Pleeeease say yes!” she pleaded.
Unfortunately, we’re not a used car dealership, and we had to graciously turn down her offer. She ended up buying a couple boxes on her credit card anyway. So now she has 48 rolls of Necco wafers to ration over a lifetime with many years to go! When you run the math, Katie can have 2 Necco wafers a month until her 94th birthday.
Not enough? Maybe Honda or Carmax would be willing to entertain the trade-in offer, Katie!
A nice older woman called and wanted to buy 100 pounds of the junior roll-sized Necco Wafers. When she mentioned they are better for vacuum-sealing, our team pressed for details. Long story short, this woman plans to vacuum seal Necco wafers so that her supply will remain as fresh as possible…for years.
Another fine gentleman named Larry saw this very article and sent us his story about Necco candy:
When I got my DAISY RED RYDER BB GUN in 1960 it was recommended by I think Boy’s Life Magazine to use Necco wafers as targets. We would suspend them on strings. The back stop was a heavy carpet hung in a “J” shape. It would catch the BB’s for reuse & we also ate the broken pieces of Necco wafers. In those days we wasted nothing, money was tight & we had to earn it. I still have a fine collection of Red Ryders & I watch the movie “A Christmas Story” every Christmas & still eat the occasional wafer.
But it’s not all love. Necco Wafers, in particular, are a divisive candy. Sales figures don’t (and can’t) illustrate the dark side of sentiment. …Though there are people who would probably negative-buy Necco Wafers if that were a possible thing. We have seen both sides of the passion.
We did a piece on the Best and Worst Halloween candy where Necco wafers ranked the #4 worst. We asked customers to give feedback to support their opinions either way. And Necco Wafers got by far the most written feedback. After digging through the results, we found the following comments:
You can see there are two-sides to this coin. Both are equally passionate.
If you are one of those who loves Necco, what can you do?
You might think, oh well, someone will buy the rights to make the popular ones and the Necco Wafers will live on. For sure. But will it be the same? If they use new cooks, new machines, different water, maybe in a different climate. Maybe the new owner will use cheaper ingredients or more expensive ingredients. Odds are it won’t be exactly the same. And it could be very different.
We can’t risk it. There’s got to be a better option.
The best thing we can do is get the word out there. Potential buyers of Necco need to hear loud and clear how popular these products are. They need to hear from us how important it is to keep Necco right where it is in Revere, Massachusetts. Keep those factory workers employed and making that candy that we all love (or love to hate).
If you think this article is interesting, share it and use the tag #SaveNecco. Let’s show everyone that Necco is still in high demand.
Email me if you have any questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org