December 11, 2003

Necco Wafers.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:57 pm

I don’t eat a lot of candy. I’m just not a big candy fan. However, I do like Necco Wafers and often keep them nearby when I am watching television.

Necco Wafers are those quarter-sized, hard, sugary wafers that are packaged much like a roll of quarters. They come in 8 flavors and colors: lemon (yellow); orange (orange); lime (green); clove (purple); cinnamon (white); wintergreen (pink); licorice (black); and chocolate (brown). The number of each flavor and color in each roll is determined randomly. So, when buying Necco Wafers, the number of each flavor you get in the package is essentially a crapshoot.

The only flavor that can be purchased separately (i.e. all one color) is chocolate**. The good news there is that chocolate is my favorite flavor. The bad news is that it is often difficult to find the “only-chocolate” packages.

Necco Wafers have been around since the beginning of the twentieth century, when they were first manufactured by the New England Confectionary Company, which accounts for the name Necco (N.E.C.Co. Clever, no?). Now, more than 4 billion Necco Wafers are manufactured each year, which is enough to completely encircle the world twice if placed edge to edge. Link

What’s good about Necco Wafers is that, with the right technique, they are very satisfying and take a long time to eat. In fact, with the right technique, even a mini-roll (10 wafers) can last for the better part of a TV program.

Here’s how to eat Necco Wafers:

The first rule is that one eats only one Necco Wafer at a time. Putting more than one Necco Wafer at one time in one’s mouth causes flavor collision, which is a bad thing. For example, orange and cinnamon tend to beat the shit out of each other. Putting two or more Necco Wafers at a time in one’s mouth might be acceptable, but only if they are all the same flavor. Nevertheless, this practice is not recommended, as it will result in the roll not lasting as it should

Second, it is always acceptable to throw away black Necco Wafers, because they taste like licorice, and licorice tastes like crap. With luck, there will not be too many black Necco Wafers in your roll.

Finally, one doesn’t chew a Necco Wafer, at least not when one first puts it into one’s mouth . They are too hard for that, and prematurely chewing them is too noisy inside one’s head, requiring an upward adjustment of the TV volume. Rather, one lets the Necco Wafer sit on one’s tongue for a few minutes until it softens up and is ready for a slow, constant-pressure chew, rather than a chomp-type chew.

Necco Wafers have an interesting history. Admiral Byrd took 2 1/2 tons of Necco Wafers to the South Pole in the 1930’s to give to his men as well as the locals he ran into along the way. In addition, Necco Wafers travel well because they do not melt and, as candy goes, they are relatively indestructible. For that reason, during World War II, the government purchased a major portion of the company’s production of Necco Wafers to ship overseas to the troops.

Be a good American. Eat Necco Wafers.

** It is true that the only flavor Necco Wafer that can be purchased separately is chocolate. However, I recall from my boyhood Rod Redwing saying that the Necco Wafer manufacturer used to provide him with special packages that contained only white Necco Wafers. I know you are asking yourself, who is this Rod Redwing guy, and why was he given special treatment by the Necco folks?

Rod Redwing was an Indian (oops…Native American) man who, in the 1950’s was a movie actor and a “gun coach” in Hollywood. As such, he taught western movie stars how to twirl six-shooters, execute a quick draw, and to shoot straight. One of the things he used to do to dazzle audiences was to have someone toss a small white disc into the air, and he would execute a quick draw and shoot the little disc (methinks he used scatter shot). I saw him do this on several television shows.

By now, unless you have ca-ca brains, you should have figured out what those little white discs were.

Yep. They were Necco Wafers.

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