Nostalgia Candies at Sweets and Snacks Expo 2011: Necco, Bosco, Fizzies

May 31, 2011 at 10:45 am 7 comments

Last week’s Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago showcased some fabulous candies from the past that are just right for today, like Goo Goo Clusters and Modjeskas (see my previous post). Here’s my take on some slightly more perplexing nostalgia candies coming down the candy pipeline.

Necco Wafers: A strange story from the folks at New England Confectionery. Necco Wafers are returning to their original artificial colors, having shifted to an all-natural palette a couple of years ago. The Necco representative explained that it was like New Coke and Classic Coke: Necco is going back to Classic Necco. This one surprised me. It seems totally contrary to the whole away-from-artificial movement. But the official line is that the customers demanded it. It is an isolated case, but you’ve got to wonder if there isn’t more of this counter-revolution brewing.

In the image above, the current packaging is at the bottom (note “all natural”), and the new package at the top (“an American classic”).  The all-natural kind are still on store shelves, but will soon be replaced with the Classic. The package on the new (old) version doesn’t proclaim its artificialness, so this may be a switch with little fan-fare. If you are interested in comparing the flavors, buy an “all natural” roll now and hold on to it for a couple of months.

The difference in appearance is not dramatic. The image shows the new, artificially colored wafer at bottom. Here’s the ingredient list for the current all-natural version: sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, coco power, natural flavors, vegetable gums, natural colors (red beet, purple cabbage, turmeric, caramel color, paprika).  The new, back to the old, version adds citric acid and artificial flavors and instead of those lovely vegetable colors, you will enjoy the visual stylings of Yellows 5 & 6, Blue 1, Red 3, Red 40.

So nostalgia, it turns out, it a tricky thing. Those good old days involved a lot of chemicals.

Bosco Milk Chocolate: Speaking of nostalgia, here’s a new product that is un-ashamedly all about the packaging of nostalgia. Bosco you may recall from your childhood (or not, since if you are old enough to recall it, you probably can’t recall it….) Anyway, whoever owns the trademark now (who may or may not have anything to do with the original Bosco) has licensed it for use by Priam LLC. Priam is not actually a candy maker. Priam is a brand builder (at least I think that’s what this means: “a one stop resource solution…lending its expertise to its brand partners in the critical disciplines of sales, marketing, logistics, merchandising, graphic design, accounting and finance, and public relations.”). Priam has arranged for the wrapping of the Bosco name and logo around a bar of milk chocolate which does not, so far as I can gather, actually contain any Bosco. But this bar was a huge draw at the New Products Preview event, and everybody wanted to take a picture and take one home. We probably won’t even open it; the “value” of this candy is entirely in the wrapper.

Fizzies: These are flavored and sweetened tablets that work on the Alka-Seltzer principle to produce a glass of … beverage, I guess. I don’t have much to say about these, except that I remember them from when I was a kid and now they are back. They went off the market in the late 1960s when cyclamate, an artificial sweetener essential to the Fizzies formula, was banned. Bummer.The new version is sweetened with sucralose, another non-nutritive sweetener. We thought they were fun when I was 6, so perhaps a whole new generation of 6 year olds is waiting for this sensation.

Of course, when I was 6 we didn’t have Pop Rocks and Toxic Waste Candy and other such violent taste experiences, so Fizzies was about as exciting as it got. Will the youth of today prove too jaded for old fashioned fizz? In the Candy Professor test kitchen, the answer seems to be “yes.” My kiddie test subject yawned and walked away when the tablet fell into the water and then, well it didn’t so much fizz as fizzle. When she came back a few minutes later, it was still fizzling. Either they got the formula wrong, or we were just way more easily amused forty years ago. Against just such a possibility, the Fizzies people have come up with several cocktail recipes to keep the over-21 crowed fizzing along.


Entry filed under: Candy Nostalgia, Candy Reviews, Current Candy News. Tags: , , , , .

New Candies at Sweets and Snacks 2011: Bodily Functions Free Candy is Not So Free After All

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mark D. (sugarpressure)  |  May 31, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I thought I had an exclusive on the NECCO changeover, I guess I’ll skip writing that article. 😛

    I find the whole BOSCO thing odd too. It’s a candy bar, that doesn’t have the syrup in it anywhere. Why does it say BOSCO? Confusing.

    I’ve never heard of the Fizzies, I wonder if they were regional.

    I think the only other “retro” candy might be the Astro Pop Asteroids at the Leaf booth? That might be a new product using the old name though, I’m not sure.

    • 2. Candy Professor  |  May 31, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Hi Sugarpressure,
      I hope you’ll do a fuller story on the Necco Wafer changeover, especially what is up with the purple and black ones? The package I got at the booth had only one black which I ate before I realized it was the only one, but it is much blacker than the “anise” flavor in the all natural tube.
      The other “retro” candy that I noticed at the show was Fliks, a chocolate flavored drop in a colored metallic tube. Like Kisses, but unwrapped and not real chocolate. The appeal, I think, is really the shiny tube. I remember these too, but they just didn’t grab me and I didn’t get any samples…

  • 3. Ricky (a female)  |  June 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    My Father LOVED to make FIZZE Drinks……At that time there was not much to drink for diabetics…….. He also liked MR WIGGLE Gelatin .Because it was sugar free.He’s been gone 35 years…now diabetics have lots of choices.

    • 4. Candy Professor  |  June 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Fantastic story, I hadn’t made the connection with candy and diabetes. Thanks for sharing the memory

  • 5. JB  |  July 12, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Re: Necco Wafers : HOOORAY! I was one of the many who wrote and complained about the new flavors. The switch to the new formula was ridiculous and they tasted awful. Necco wafers are candy. Nothing healthy about them. Our complaints fell on deaf ears but our purchasing power was more effective. It will take a while for the Necco fans who left to find out about the return to the old recipe. Perhaps this blog can get the word out.

  • 6. Cgpiper  |  October 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I echo JB.. the ‘new’ NECCOs tasted like cardboard and there wasn’t much differentiation between flavors. I, too, wrote and expressed my opinion several times and am very gratified that flavor and consumer desire won out over PC attitudes. When I saw a box of what I thought were NOS (new old stock) in a local store I snapped them up. When I saw them in two more stores, I emailed NECCO and they confirmed the return. I’m not really sure why you think it’s strange. The move isn’t against artificiality, but for flavor.

    • 7. Candy Professor  |  October 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      Hmm, I see your point. And I guess that is one of the pleasures of candy, so unabashedly artificial…


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Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

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