The survival of Conversation Hearts, Clark Bars, and Mary Janes is on the line.
As the 1988 hair metal band Cinderella taught us, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” The moral is that we tend to take things for granted until we don’t have them any longer, and that’s certainly been the case with Necco candy.
Granted, the company behind Necco Wafers, Sweethearts Conversation Hearts and a number of even more controversial products (Mary Jane peanut butter chews, anyone?) was seemingly more about selling nostalgia than truly beloved candies, but when The Boston Globe reported on March 12 that Necco, which has been making its Wafers since 1847, could potentially go under by May if a buyer wasn’t found, people freaked. According to CandyStore.com, their sales of Necco Wafers spiked 150 percent leading the online candy store to blog that “People Are Panic-Buying Necco Wafers.”
One reader of that piece was former Necco CEO Alan Gulachenski. He helmed the candy brand from 2011 to 2015 and reached out to CandyStore.com to ask them to help spread the word that he thinks he can save the company… with a little help from all of us.
Gulachenski wants to acquire the old-school company with a very new-school method: crowdfunding. He’s set up a GoFundMe page with the ambitious goal of—ahem—$20 million. He says that if he reaches that goal, he and his team will chip in the remaining $5 to $10 million “to do this right.” As far as what you get for your money besides hopefully saving the 170-year-old brand, well, though the details are very, very thin, the former CEO writes, “I can promise you that if you donate you will own a piece of Necco as I will issue shares to everyone that contributes money.” It’s the kind of thing you’d probably like more details on before making an investment, but for now, that’s what you have.
To help spur on interest, Gulachenski paints a pretty bleak portrait of what’s to come if his idea isn’t successful. “I can tell you that they have a buyer and that buyer is planning to liquidate the company, fire all the employees and close the doors of Necco forever!” he writes on the GoFundMe page.
Despite all the ambiguity, CandyStore.com says the GoFundMe page is legit, with a Gulachenski representative reaching out to them about it. But even beyond that, if you head over to the crowdfunding campaign right now, you’ll see a pretty staggering mountain to climb: Only $50 has been pledged so far… just $19,999,950 to go. That’s a lot of Clark Bars. Yeah, Necco makes that one too.