• Necco wafers are disgusting
  • Necco wafers are wonderful
  • Neccos (as we called them) are as old as the Civil War, and soldiers carried them in their kits.
  • Necco stands for New England Candy Company.
  • Neccos came in a variety of flavors: Chocolate, Lime, Lemon, Orange, Wintergreen, Cinnamon, Licorice and Clove.
  • The Lemon is basically Lemon Pledge.
  • Neccos have been compared to Tums (antacids), or flavored plasterboard.
  • Neccos were shipped overseas during WWII and were an iconic American export (sadly).
  • Neccos are often used as “shingles” on candy houses. The baker who informed me of this has never put one in her mouth.
  • A friend who used to be into competitive air-rifle target shooting used Neccos to zero his sights.
  • The Clove Necco is probably the strangest candy flavor I know. And it apparently leans toward an older idea of sweet spice flavors as candy. Possibly Cardamon, Ginger, Tumeric and others would make interesting old time candy.
  • After generations the New England Candy Company went out of business and Neccos have recently been re-introduced from another company.
  • I’m curious to see if they suck.


I can tell you that I both love and hate Neccos. They bridge a taste / association gap in my brain. Because they were part of my childhood and sufficed as candy when none other was available. They also keep amazingly well, in fact, they’re basically like pieces of slate. I have many fond memories of them in my pockets and the somewhat disturbing sensations they caused as I tried to identify flavors.

As an adult I would not touch a Necco because I can basically have access to anything candy I want. As far as hard candy goes, I prefer Jolly Rancher and other Sour/sweet flavors. I suspect that American palates are trained for Salt-Sweet / Sour-Sweet combinations.

How do we learn to enjoy tastes unfamiliar to us? Ten years ago I would not touch sushi. I think mainly because I was not a strong sea-food eater, despite my New England upbringing, and the use of uncooked animal flesh was repulsive to me as a concept. Flash forward ten years and now I can’t live without sushi. The delightful buttery sensation of an excellent piece of raw tuna is indescribably wonderful. But, I’d have gagged on it just ten years ago. What happened?

What happened is gradual familiarity. Our tastes are made up of familiarized experience. A terrific girlfriend I had introduced me to cheese. I knew about a bit of the variety of cheese, but this lovely Quebecois clued me in to much more, especially soft cheeses that sometimes stunk of ammonia. She shrugged and said, you’ll get used to it. And then she proceeded to gradually get me used to it, buying a series, over time, of stinking cheeses which ranged on a scale. I still probably can’t enjoy the strongest ones.

A professor of mine once remarked that he hated stewed ochra. I chuckled about this, and then he quickly corrected himself. Actually, it’s more like, stewed ochra is wasted on me. This little reversal of blame—it not being ochra really, but actually his own palate—is brilliant maturity.

Inherent negative response doesn’t exist. It is learned.

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