The Necco Wafer is returning to its original recipe after sales of its “all-natural” version flopped with consumers.
The New England Confectionery Company tried to make the 164-year-old candy appeal to health-conscious consumers two years ago by using all-natural ingredients for coloring and flavor, such as purple cabbage, red beet juice, and cocoa powder, the Boston Globe reported. But sales dropped 35 percent.
“There were stacks and stacks of letters and e-mails that said, ‘Why did you do this? You ruined it,”’ Steve Ornell, Necco’s vice president of sales, told the newspaper.
The company, based in Revere, Mass., had found focus groups did not like dyes like Yellow 5 and Red 40, which some studies had linked to cancer-causing agents and hyperactivity in children, according to the Globe. Only four of the seven flavors had to be changed for the candy to become natural.
After sales dragged, the company returned to its original chalky candy recipe over the summer. Its eight flavors are chocolate, cinnamon, clove, lemon, licorice, lime, orange and wintergreen.
The company produces over eight billion Sweetheart Conversation Hearts each year for Valentine’s Day, but the New England Confectionery Company views the wafers as its core product, according to the Globe.
The company calls itself the “oldest multi-line candy company in the United States,” dating back to 1847. The company also produces Mary Jane peanut butter and molasses candy chews, Clark candy bars, Mighty Malts, Haviland Thin Mints, and Candy House Candy Buttons.