- Spangler Candy announced it has acquired Sweethearts, Necco wafers and Canada Mints brands and related equipment from New England Confectionary Co. (Necco). The purchase price was not disclosed. The Bryan, Ohio-based company said it plans to reintroduce the wafers next year and relaunch the Sweethearts in time for Valentine's Day 2020.
- Spangler also said it has purchased and will renovate a 20-acre campus next to its current facility to provide more room for warehouse space, future expansion and growth. The family-owned company, in operation since 1906, makes Dum-Dums lollipops, a variety of flavored candy canes, Saf-T-Pops and Spangler Circus Peanuts, among other products.
- "The combination of Dum-Dums, candy canes, Sweethearts, and NECCO Wafers will make Spangler a stronger company within the global confectionery market and will be a catalyst for growth,” Chairman and CEO Kirk Vashaw said in a release.
Spangler was reportedly the winning bid in late May after the New England Confectionery Co. went on the auction block following bankruptcy. However, the $18.8-million deal fell apart after Spangler said it needed a discount to complete the purchase, and Round Hill Investments ended up buying Necco for $17.3 million under an entity called Sweetheart Candy Co.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had inspected Necco's factory in Revere, Massachusetts, in the winter of 2017 and found a number of problems, including rodent activity and unsanitary conditions. The FDA issued a warning letter in mid-May to Necco and requested the problems be corrected, so it's likely a significant investment would have been needed to bring the plant back into compliance.
In July, Round Hill, chaired by C. Dean Metropoulos, said it had decided to sell the majority of candy brands to another national confection manufacturer — which was not named — and close down Necco operations in Revere. At the time, Necco wafers, Sweethearts and Canada Mints were not for sale, but the company's other brands, including its Clark Bar, Mary Jane and the chocolate Sky Bar, were available.
Now that the Massachusetts factory is closed, it's possible some longtime Necco brands may disappear unless another company steps forward to purchase them. Such an opportunity is coming right up. Auctioneers Rabin Worldwide announced they will sell Necco brands Haviland Thin Mints, Sky Bar, Peach Blossoms and Mighty Malts Milk Balls, along with a large amount of equipment, during an online public auction Sept. 26 and 27.
It's hard to tell whether Spangler's expansion plans and the relaunch of two of Necco's most popular brands — Necco wafers and Sweethearts — will be successful, but Spangler is unlikely to embark in that direction without a certain comfort level. Necco wafers and Sweethearts have a large fan base, revealed by the response last spring to the possibility that production of the candies could end.
The company also seems willing to put money into the next-door manufacturing and warehouse space. As Kirk Vashaw, Spangler's chairman and CEO, noted in a release, "Significant renovations have to happen at [the adjacent space] to bring it up to food grade standards.” While Vashaw acknowledged there are manufacturing challenges and unanswered questions at this point, he said the company looks forward to bringing back two of Necco's most popular candies.
"Sweethearts and NECCO Wafers are iconic brands with rich hundred-year-plus histories. These are perfect additions to our portfolio of traditional candies," he said.