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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Truck shaped like Necco Roll, Detroit, 1923
Necco Roll Truck - Detroit, 1923. Courtesy New England Confectionary Company

New England Confectionery Company (NECCO)

Having celebrated its 150th (sesquicentennial) anniversary in 1997, the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) is the oldest continuously operating candy company in the United States. NECCO's roots date back to the mid-19th century when Oliver R. Chase of Boston invented and patented a lozenge cutter, the first American candy machine. His company, Chase & Co., was the forerunner to the family of companies now known as NECCO. Also a pioneer in extending employee benefits, in 1906, NECCO inaugurated a profit-sharing plan to reward those who "by faithful attendance and continuous service demonstrate their interest in the welfare of the company." In 1920, NECCO took the progressive step of insuring the lives of all its employees. In 1927, NECCO built its present manufacturing facility near the Charles River and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was the largest factory in the world with its entire space devoted to the manufacture of candy.

NECCO has two divisions (Stark and Haviland Candy Companies) and four manufacturing facilities (in two in Cambridge, Massachusetts; one in Pewaukee, Wisconsin; and one in Thibodaux, Louisiana) which employ about 1200 employees. NECCO is the number one supplier in the United States of the famous Valentine conversation hearts -- about 8 billion a year are produced -- thin mints and peanut butter kisses. NECCO's annual sales approach $100 million. Ranking among the top ten top sellers in the non-chocolate-candy category is the company's NECCO Assorted Wafers. In the 1930s, Admiral Byrd took 2 1/2 tons of NECCO Wafers to the South Pole, practically a pound a week for each of his men during their two-year stay in the Antarctic. The U.S. Government requisitioned a major portion of the production of the wafers during World War II, since the candy doesn't melt and is "practically indestructible" during transit, making it perfect to ship overseas to the troops. The signature product of the company, NECCO Wafers are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as the result of the increasing baby-boomer demand for non-fat sweets. In the coming years, NECCO intends to carry on its 153-year tradition of quality candy-making.

The project is documented with a company history and chronology and several pages on each of its famous candies: NECCO Wafers; Sweethearts Conversation Hearts; Mary Janes; and Clark Bars. There are also historical photographs, artwork, a newspaper article and an advertisement.

Originally submitted by: Michael E. Capuano, Representative (8th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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