Back to the Future: Leaf Brands' Wacky Wafers return to the market
- With more than a half million units pre-sold in four weeks, the re-introduction of the original Wacky Wafers beat expectations. The candy started shipping in late December.
- “When we opened our pre-orders in November we thought maybe 100-200 cases would be sold,” Garvey Daniels, Leaf Brands' vice president of sales, said in a statement. “Once we went live, the sales were unbelievable.”
- Wacky Wafers re-launch comes as Leaf Brands brings back several discontinued snacks and sweets, including Hydrox cookies, Astro Pops, and Farts Candy.
Even after receiving hundreds of emails from consumers asking the company to bring them back, Leaf Brands said initial sales of Wacky Wafers have exceeded expectations. A look at the Facebook fan page for the candies may help explain the initial success, and hint potentially at its longevity.
“Just got my order!!!!" wrote Tracy McGrath Gallaher of Menifee, California. "I have finally had the chance to share my favorite childhood candy with my 8-year-old son.....and he LOVES them!! That's the best!!! They are just as I remembered....so yummy! Thank you!!!”
“Got them today!!!" wrote Monica Bakes of Youngstown, Ohio, "Haven't opened them yet, I'm going to order more!!”
The pack of five silver-dollar sized, fruit-flavored, wafer-style candies popular with Generation X kids went through several changes to their flavor, size and packaging under ownership by Willy Wonka and Nestle, which ultimately discontinued them.
"You'd be surprised how challenging it is to make a package of five pressed dextrose wafers exactly like the originals. Its previous owner, Nestle/Wonka, changed the brand beyond recognition so we spent many years rolling the product back to its successful original design" said Ellia Kassoff, Leaf Brands' CEO. "The once popular wafers had been gradually reduced to a small vitamin-sized candy, so loyal customers ended-up with something they didn't like or remember. We had to completely reverse-engineer the whole product and develop a sampling program using a focus group of fans of the once-popular candy."
Leaf Brands has said the company’s focus is bringing back experiences that people loved as children. Hydrox, the sandwich cookie that debuted in 1908 — four years before Oreos — was discontinued in 2002. Leaf purchased the brand name and recipe and brought it back a few years ago.
“After six long years of waiting, Wacky Wafers are back in its original packaging, flavors and size!” Leaf Brands wrote on its website. “Yep, those years of begging, pleading and bribes have finally paid off.”
The company told Bakery and Snacks that it conducted limited marketing for the relaunch. But with those Gen X consumers now adults and accustomed to online shopping in bulk, fans of the fruit-scented wafers were willing to buy packages of them by the dozen. Leaf Brands asked consumers to limit their orders to a dozen boxes and advises retailers to call for wholesale orders.
The reintroduction of Wacky Wafers and other throwback snacks reflect the relative independence of the Generation X kids who grew up in the 70s and 80s. It's unlikely these candies and treats will find a huge market, particularly among today's millennials who are unfamiliar with the brands and have countless other products to chose from. But with parents who grew up with Wacky Wafers, Hydrox and other older products, they could help give these snacks their own small niche in the market again — and pass the love of the treats down to their own kids.