NECCO Wafers Making A Comeback – Why the Interest in Retro Candies?
Spangler Candy Company, the people who are responsible for giving the world Dum-Dums, Smarties, and other classic candies, is bringing the iconic Necco Wafer back after shelving the candy for two years. What's the obsession with retro candy? I reached out to Tom Holmer, owner of Kalamazoo's Rocket Fizz to get to the bottom of it.
"I think that, for most, there was some level of obsession over candy as a child," Holmer exclaimed. "Friends would rave about this or that and you always wanted to introduce them to new finds. When people see these candies again, they get transported to those happy memories as a child. Even if they still don’t like the flavors. For myself, I am not a huge fan of butterscotch...however I still will sneak a butterscotch disc and remember my great grandmother always having a few of them in the bottom of her purse."
I understand the senses can trigger nostalgia, but I can't imagine that it's only those taking trips down memory lane who are seeking retro candies. There have to be people trying something old for the very first time. "We probably hear the phrase 'I haven’t seen this for years' a dozen or so times per day," says Holmer. "There are also a lot of parents who buy candy from their youth to share with their kids."
Treats that have been around for over fifty years, like Candy Cigarettes, Zotz, Wacky Wafers, black Jack gum, and Nik-L-Nips are among the most sought retro candies in Kalamazoo's Rocket Fizz. Surprisingly, the good old fashioned Necco Wafer would have beaten them all to the register. "If we had Necco Wafers the entire time they would have been on this list. They were a top seller when we had them during our first six months of being open."
A lot of your favorite childhood memories may not have actually gone the way of the Dodo. Some became regional favorites and were manufactured on a limited scale and distributed to specific areas. Holmer has a list of retro candies he'd like to see make a comeback. "Teaberry Gum, Clark Bars, LifeSavers Holes, Bonkers, Beechnut Gum," he says. "Also, it appears the O’Henry Bar, which is my A#1 bestest favorite from my youth, may have disappeared. None of our distributors seem to be able to get it. Hope that it is not permanent." Who knows? Reviving the humble Necco Wafer might be just what other retro candy companies need to bring back some of our childhood favorites.