NEW ENGLAND CONFECTIONERY COMPANY
Established in 1847, the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) is the oldest continuously operating candy company in the United States. NECCO's delicious beginnings date back to the mid-19th century, when brothers Oliver and Daniel Chase of Boston invented and patented many candy-making devices. Oliver invented a lozenge cutter, the first American candy machine, and in 1850, he invented a machine for crushing sugar into a dust.
In 1866, Daniel Chase invented the Lozenge Printing Machine, creating 'conversation candies,' which had instant and widespread popularity. NECCO is the number one maker in the United States of the famous Valentine conversation hearts with romantic words and messages stamped on them. About 8 billion a year are produced!
Pastel-colored little candy disks called NECCO wafers first appear in 1902, named for the acronym of the New England Confectionery Company.
In the 1930s, Admiral Byrd took 2 1/2 tons of NECCO Wafers to the South Pole -- almost a pound a week for each of his men during their two-year stay in the Antarctic.
During World War II, the U.S. government ordered a major portion of the production of the wafers. Since the candy doesn't melt and is 'practically indestructible' during transit, it was the perfect food to ship overseas to the troops.
Library of Congress Local Legacies Project