The Candies of Our Fathers

Not sure if I’ve ever actually seen anybody with a roll of Necco wafers except my father. These were the sort of thing you would find inside his coat pocket, along with a Zippo lighter, a pack of Parliaments, and a handkerchief.

Necco Wafers are an old timey treat that are decidedly odd with their strange flavors and chalky consistency. They don’t seem to be the sort of thing craved by children — not these days, anyway. According to a timeline on the New England Candy Company site:

1913: Explorer Donald MacMillan takes Necco Wafers on his Arctic expedition, using them for nutrition and as rewards to Eskimo children.

If you’re used to eating seal blubber, Necco Wafers look pretty good!

In 2009, the company tried to update the classic candy by switching to “natural flavors.”  According to a story in The Atlantic, they did this because:

All-natural flavors and colors, the company thought, would draw young mothers concerned about their children’s diet.

By the way, Necco Wafers contain gelatin, which means they aren’t Kosher — and off limits to strict vegetarians.

It’s surprising the way little things can bring you back. A certain smell or taste. A song. Or even the way that translucent wrapping of a roll of Necco Wafers feels in your hand. Now whenever I see a roll of Necco Wafers I grab them. And I think about my father.

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