News & Politics

Necco Mania: Fans Begin Hoarding the Chalky Wafers, Worried the Candymaker Could Close

(Image via Necco)

The company that makes Necco Wafers has announced that it may be forced to close its doors if a buyer cannot be found for the financially troubled candy maker by early May. As a result, fans of the iconic chalky candy have begun hoarding the treats, resulting in shortages in some areas.

The New England Confectionary Co. has been making the beloved (or despised, depending on your candy tastes) Necco Wafers since 1847. The company, which is the largest employer in Revere, Mass., also makes Sweethearts conversation hearts, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Candy Buttons, Mary Janes, Slap Stix, and Clark bars.

David Sapers, from Sugar Heaven in Somerville, Mass., told NPR last week, “I just ordered 10 cases of [Necco’s products] yesterday, which were delivered on Thursday. So I did that because first of all, they don’t go bad. They’re going to last for a while, and just in case something happens, we have it.” He’s also stocking up on Sweethearts conversation hearts in case the company isn’t around next Valentine’s Day.

According to Candystore.com, “Necco sales have spiked more than 150%… a clear signal of panic-buying.”

The blog noted that since the announcement they’ve received:

  253 emails starting on March 12 inquiring about Necco branded candies.

  167 panicked phone calls asking about Necco branded candies, many trying to secure large bulk quantities.

  77 Social media messages expressing fear and sadness for their coming loss.

  29 Customers offering to pay double or more for bulk quantities of Necco candy.

  3 People offering to work in return for Necco candy buying priority.

  1 Used car trade-in offer.

On eBay, a 24-pack of chocolate Necco Wafers is going for a whopping $300.

Last month Necco CEO Michael McGee notified the state and the city of Revere that most of the company’s 500 employees could be laid off if a buyer cannot be found by May 6.

The company “has been in ongoing negotiations with potential buyers to allow for its continued operations,” McGee said in the March 6 notice, warning that employees could be terminated as soon as 60 days from the date of the notice.

“We deeply regret and understand the uncertainty this action may cause our valued employees,” McGee said.

The 830,000-square foot building that houses the company in Revere was sold to a management company last year for nearly $55 million. The company’s lease expires at the end of August.

If you scratch the surface of these types of announcements, you almost always find bloated union contracts beneath the surface. From the Boston Herald in 2009:

Union leaders say NECCO, founded in 1847, is trying to effectively bust up the union by asking it to drop some contract provisions in the event the firm is put up for sale.

Union leaders also say the company, now owned by a Maryland private-equity firm, has attempted to decertify the union, which represents 407 workers during peak seasonal times of the year.

Former Necco CEO Al Gulachenski launched a GoFundMe campaign last week, hoping to raise $20 million to save the ailing company.

He explained:

I am willing to dedicate myself along with my team to saving this historic piece of USA and Boston heritage and preserve the art of candy making and manufacturing jobs in Massachusettes.  We did it before and with your help we will do it again so that the company will last another 100 years.

I need help in the form of money to move the company to a new home in Massachusettes.  This company has been in our back yard for 170 years and it’s time we own it.  Lets save our Necco Wafers and Sweethearts!!

Thus far, Gulachensi has raised just over $10,000.

Some candy connoisseurs, though, aren’t a bit worried about the possibility of Necco shuttering its operation:

Meanwhile, fans continue to buy up not only their beloved Necco Wafers, but Clark bars too—just in case.