Necco Wafers, a staple of the American sweet tooth for 171 years, apparently aren’t going the way of Bonkers Fruit Chews, Sputnik Gumballs or Yoo-Hoo chocolate bars anytime soon. Bryan, Ohio-based Spangler Candy Co., the maker of Dum Dums and other delicacies, proffered a winning bid of $18.83 million for New England Confectionery Co., which also confects Sweethearts and other classic candies, at a federal bankruptcy auction in Boston yesterday.
“Saved In The Necco Time!” reads the hed over Laurel Dalrymple’s piece for NPR.
“While the future of Necco candy is still uncertain, the deal may keep the company's products — which also include Mary Janes, the Sky Bar and Candy Buttons — on the shelves a little while longer,” she writes, taking us back to 1847. That’s “when Oliver Chase, an immigrant from England, invented a lozenge cutter (the first American candy machine, according to Necco). He and his brother, Silas, then founded Chase and Co., which became the New England Confectionery Co. after a merger in 1901.”
It sounds like the bankruptcy proceedings had all the tension of a Red Sox-Yankee game.
“With a packed gallery looking on during the nearly four-hour-long court session, Spangler beat out offers from Round Hill Investments LLC and Boston-based liquidator Gordon Brothers to become the new owner of the New England Confectionery Co., which traces its roots to 1847. A fourth bidder, kgbdeals Shopping Inc., dropped out before the proceedings started. Bidding, with chief U.S. bankruptcy judge Melvin S. Hoffman presiding, had started at $15,250,000,” Katheleen Conti reports for the Boston Globe.
Round Hill Investments, which specializes in reviving consumer brands such as Hostess and Utz Potato Chips, was selected as the backup bid if the deal with Spangler does not close today, Jordan Graham reports for the Boston Herald.
“The sale came less than two months after Necco filed for bankruptcy in early April. The company was unable to pay rent for significant periods of time, bankruptcy trustee Harold Murphy said, and had been able to operate largely due to a decision by their parent company’s willingness to forgive the missing rent,” Graham writes, reporting that it was put on the market last summer but could not find any takers.
Among those interested was former Necco CEO Al Gulachenski, who had started a GoFundMe campaign.
“While we are sorry Al [Gulachenski] and his team were not the winning bidders, Spangler’s acquisition appears to be a good outcome for the future of Necco brands,” writes Clair Robins on the CandyStore.com blog. “Spangler is a fourth-generation family-run candy company, and all sources seem to think they will continue the Necco brands into the future.” CandyStore.com had been boosting Gulachenski’s efforts to purchase the company.
“Over the past few months, CandyStore.com has actively supported the #SaveNecco campaign. We worked to spread awareness of Necco candy’s popularity and the Great Necco Wafer Panic and, working with Gulachenski, and a GoFundMe campaign to save the Boston-based company,” Robins writes.
That campaign raised $4,485 from 109 people over the last six weeks towards its $20 million goal.
“Some Twitter users rejoiced about the news of the purchase. One wrote ‘I love Necco wafers. This makes me happy.’ Another wrote, ‘Necco wafers were always around Grandma’s house. Long history, classic Americana,’” reports Aisha Al-Muslim for the Wall Street Journal.
The Spangler deal “will most likely ensure a future, at least in the short term, for some of the nation's most familiar candies,” writes the AP’s William J. Kole for the Chicago Tribune.
Neccos are “a crowd favorite,” Chris Baker, who sells them at his Old Country Store & Emporium in Mansfield, Mass., tells Kole. “I like to see our traditions continue. Any time we lose one, it's a loss for all of us. And this is something that everybody's had a million times.”
Indeed, the wafers appear to have been passed to hands that respect its heritage.
“I’m a fourth-generation Spangler; my great-grandfather was the one who founded it back in 1906, and they’d be very proud of us today,” said Kirk Vashaw, Spangler’s chairman and chief executive, the Boston Globe’s Conti writes. “We’re very excited … well, because it’s candy.”
And candy is, of course, dandy!