I know what’s going down with the Necco Wafers. Almost all of Central New York is vulnerable right now to the recent national panic buying of the marginally-worthy candy, but I’m right on top of it. I’m in a good place with the Necco’s.
The Washington Post hitched a ride on the recent Wafer run with a story this morning that confirmed the atmosphere of instability surrounding the 170-year-old New England candy company’s future. The Necco’s plant, located just outside Boston in Revere, Mass., is facing closure and the potential layoff of its 500 employees for lack of new ownership. The attendant ripple of anxiety has been felt nationwide as formerly indifferent consumers are now faced with the very-real possibility that they will no longer have Necco Wafers around to dismiss by their own choice.
Some places in CNY are offering the humble tablets, referred to fondly by some as “plaster surprise,” still unbothered by hoarders and speculators, who have been driving the widespread wafer madness. The Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse for example, is still an unassuming, reliable source of Necco Wafers. You can find them there, ready to disappoint, with the familiar “faintly-resembling chocolate” and “hint-of-mixed fruit” flavors. They’re an appropriate theme candy in the museum–historical setting, historical candy. Yours for a buck and a quarter per roll, plus the 8% state sales tax. No finder’s fee yet. Now here’s my end of it: I happen to have a part-time gig at the museum, which includes running the shop where you can cop some Necco’s without drawing much attention. That means that for a few hours a week, I control a nice, cool, quiet point of purchase of a white-hot commodity. A few critical hours in a really good place. My stock is on a fast rise.
Up to now, the product has been kept out in the open in the museum shop, tucked in with the rock candy on a stick and the olde-fashioned candy sticks in a jar. They’re part of the authentic Erie Canal candy experience we provide. Which is to say that they’re as comparable to today’s sweets as were the Canal-era Tinder and Bumble. I’ll tell you what though, starting right now, that merch is going in a secure location behind the counter, along with the Erie Canal baby formula. We have to discourage pure Necco’s being purchased in bulk, ground up, cut with Dr. Scholl’s foot powder, repressed, and winding up passed off as “oNcc Wafeers.” My buyers have to be able to trust the Necco they’re getting from me.
So for the short term, the way I see it, we have a healthy, vigorous convergence of fortune. Those 500 Necco Wafer crafters in Revere, their livelihoods on the line, are now putting out a must-have product. A cult product. And I’m seeing to that product while there’s bedlam in the street. It’s not a bad place to be.