People Are Panic-Purchasing Necco Wafers

Long maligned, the chalky disks are on the verge of extinction and suddenly seriously in demand.

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(Los Angeles, CA) (11/20/07) Photograph various candies (Jujyfruits, Dots, Necco Wafers, candy corn, candy canes) individually on plain white background. (Photo by Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Photo by: Robert Lachman

Robert Lachman

Remember that whole Twinkies-hoarding thing that happened a few years back when Hostess announced plans to shut down operations and suspend production of the spongy snack cakes? Now it's Necco Wafers' turn.

They're calling it "The Great Necco Wafer Panic of 2018."

In March, New England Confectionery Co. (aka Necco) disclosed that, if it couldn't find a buyer, it would shutter its operations, lay off its workers and discontinue its line of candies, which include Sweethearts (conversation hearts!), Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mary Janes and Clark Bars, to name just as few, as well as its namesake Necco Wafers, which date back to 1847.

As of March 6, the company was giving itself 60 days to complete a sale, the Boston Globe reported.

And while it may seem strange to those of us with childhood memories of Necco Wafers (the chalky disks come in eight flavors -- orange, lemon, lime, chocolate, cinnamon, licorice and wintergreen, clove – yes, clove!), people are now going nuts trying to stockpile the candies before they are gone.

To be clear, Necco Wafers have many detractors (um ... anyone who has tried them?). Recent media reports, including one in the Wall Street Journal headlined "For Candy Fans, the Only Thing Worse Than Necco Wafers Is No Necco Wafers," have cited descriptions including "tropical drywall," "plaster surprise," "attic citrus" and (possibly redundantly) "stale Tums." Still, that hasn't kept people, gripped with sudden pangs of nostalgia or memory loss regarding the flavor or both, from whipping themselves into a "gotta get ‘em before they're gone" frenzy.

How desperate are the Necco Wafer-crazed masses?

Jon Prince, president of the online wholesale and bulk candy supplier CandyFavorites.com, told CBC Radio that his company has been so inundated with calls from people looking to place large orders of Necco Wafers that he has had to limit the number of "units" they will sell to each customer – first to four and then to one, just "to be fair."

"We've had people offer to purchase our whole inventory.  One person who wanted to buy 100 boxes," Prince said. One person seeking to go over the limit even tried to bribe him with a fancy watch. (He didn't take the bribe.)

Another bulk supplier, CandyStore.com, noted in a blog post that its Necco sales have shot up more than 82 percent since the Boston Globe, in March, published its initial report on the candy maker's potential demise. The site's sales of Necco Wafers, specifically, have spiked 150 percent. "A clear signal of panic-buying," CandyStore.com suggested.

CandyStore.com has also had its share of strange offers. Three people have offered to work for the company in exchange for preferential Necco Wafers access, and then there is the woman – identified in the Boston Globe as 23-year-old Florida resident Katie Samuels – who contacted CandyStore.com offering to trade in her pre-owned 2003 black Honda Accord for the company's entire supply of Necco Wafers. (She even sent in a photo.)

"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,' " Samuels told the Globe.

Alas for Samuels, the site did not go for it.

Maybe she'd settle for some Mary Janes instead?

Photo: Robert Lachman / Contributor, GettyImages

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