Fringe Candy: In Praise of the NECCO Wafer

I’m starting a bit of a new feature, showcasing my love of strange confectionery classics. The locally distributed, the under-appreciated, the historic, the truly fringe candy that I search out when I go to the local druggist.

Mmmm....delicious, chalky goodness!

I spent well over 30 years not really understanding what NECCO Wafers were, despite having been a fan of Conversation Hearts for decades. I know this might sound strange, but I swear on my mother’s soul it’s the truth. I saw the Valentine’s Day candy start to appear and picked up a few boxes of the ubiquitous chalky candy hearts and remarked on how excited I was.

I got a blank look, which prompted the explanation, “They’re one of my favorite holiday candies, and you can’t really get them year round.”

To which my friend blinked, confused at my ignorance. “You know they’re just heart shaped NECCO Wafers, right?”

To be fair, I had seen NECCO Wafers before. And no, I had never picked up a roll and tried them. I don’t know why. Maybe it was that there were so many other, more visually appealing candies to a kid. There is something old fashioned about them. And why not? They’re old. Literally one of the oldest continually made candies in the country. Their history is nicely detailed on their website. And why bother trying to sex up their packaging to appeal to kids?

The humble NECCO Wafer! What’s not to love? They use all natural ingredients to make their original seven flavors (Seven! Beat that you chocolate bar eating bastards!): Orange, Lemon, Chocolate, Clove, Cinnamon, Wintergreen and Licorice.

Yeah, you read that right. Herbal flavors. Clove. Cinnamon. Wintergreen. Licorice. Just fantastic.

I genuinely love these delicious chalky flavor bombs.

They don’t melt (unless they get wet), so they’re perfect at any temperature.

They have history. Seriously, check out the story of NECCO Wafers and you might find a new appreciation for these unassuming treats. Certainly if you’re a history and nostalgia geek like me.

And best yet, portion control. That’s important to me. A candy bar, which is uniform in flavor (except the Sky Bar, which is a post for another day), is over quickly if you’re not paying attention. A roll of wafers is to be savored, a few little pieces at a time.

If you’ve never tried them, I urge everyone to make that little investment to try out a bit of American candy history. It’s the patriotic thing to do.

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