Necco Wafers will live on. Round Hill Investments LLC, a firm run by the billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos with family members, is set to pick up the 171-year-old New England Confectionery Company for $17.3 million in the wake of last month’s chapter 11 auction. (An earlier, $18.83 million bid from Spangler Candy Company fell through.) Aside from its namesake candy, which is produced on the order of 4 billion wafers per year, New England Confectionery Company’s other products include iconic Valentine’s Candy Hearts, Candy Buttons, and Clark Bars.
As stubborn, Spartan discs of sugar and ossified gelatin, Necco wafers are among the oldest and least enjoyable members of the American sweets pantheon. The notoriously solid, ostensibly fruity (there are chocolate and licorice flavors, too) candy would have been a good fit with Spangler, which makes Dum Dums, America’s most basic lollipop, and Circus Peanuts, the country’s most enduring banana-flavored, orange-colored, goober-shaped marshmallows.
Some of Necco’s more recent woes included millions in back taxes and utility bills. An inspection conducted by the FDA in 2017 turned up rodent droppings “too numerous to count” throughout the premises and a “dead rodent that measured about 12 inches long” in the parking lot of its headquarters. Last month, the EPA asked a federal court to require any buyer to agree to Clean Air Act compliance at the factory.
It’s unclear how the Metropoulos family, the onetime redeemer of Pabst and the same folks who brought Twinkie the Kid (and Twinkies) back from the brink, will revitalize the brand. With any luck, not much will change. Since March, when Necco’s possible demise was announced, it’s only become clearer that its most dedicated fans carry the torch ardently enough to compensate for everyone else’s lack of enthusiasm: While an effort from Al Gulachenski, a former Necco CEO, sought $20 million in crowdsourced donations but mustered $4,485, the panic reportedly prompted one fan to seek out 100 pounds in an attempt to create a Necco doomsday stockpile.