Writing about food for a living, I try to be self-aware enough not to cast judgment on something simply because it contains one of the very few foods I don’t care for. I really, truly hate everything about mayonnaise and I’ll do whatever it takes to avoid it — along with all of its derivates — but otherwise the list is small. I’ve really come around on bananas, which always felt like baby food to me, and even durian. Still, I don’t like cantaloupe one bit, partly because it’s a vicious imperialist that conquers every fruit salad with its unctuous wateriness. And still, I don’t judge. You want a salmonella-covered muskmelon that seniors on a fixed income eat with cottage cheese at the diner? Knock yourself out. It’s just not for me.
Not with NECCOs, though. NECCOs are objectively disgusting.
If you’re not familiar, NECCOs are those crumbly urinal-cake thingies from a billion years ago that taste like a distillation puritanism — and people are freaking out about them. The company that manufactures this 19th-century confectionary atrocity is thought to be going under, and everyone’s trying to get as much as they can. (According to NPR, the same company, the New England Confectionary Co., also makes Mary Janes, Clark Bars, and those candy dots you can’t eat without also getting a mouthful of adding-machine paper.) About 400 people in Revere, Mass., are set to lose their jobs. That is very unfortunate and I’m sorry, but at the risk of being a moralizing Oompa-Loompah about it, no one should eat something that’s an acronym and also barfy like fake licorice. This is nothing like that time when Hostess went bankrupt, taking Twinkies with it, only to return.
One Florida woman tried to trade in her Honda for NECCOs. Because their childhoods were somehow bereft of chocolate or anything that tastes good, this corporate bankruptcy has triggered her corrupted sense of nostalgia. How fudgily impoverished does your life have to be that your candy of choice is a clove-flavored antacid tablet made by purse-lipped governesses who think flavor is the province of Satan? How totally devoid of exposure to the wider world of tasty treats? You probably have to wear a boot for a hat.
On the street I grew up on, an eccentric woman named Mrs. Beers gave out pencils on Halloween, and that was just sad, but at least pencils are functional and you can learn to avoid trick-or-treating at houses like that. Neccos are just non-medicinal Tums in a different shape, and their appearance always gripped you with horror. You can’t even trade them for anything, as they occupied the bottom rung of the candy hierarchy, a notch above Good ‘N Plenty. The John Philip Sousa of candy, they’d sit in your little jack o’lantern pail until December, after the last fucking fun-size Snickers was long gone. They’re as bad as or worse than sub-Halloween sweets, like the gum that’s as hard as quartz that comes with a set of Topps baseball cards. NECCOs are as unpleasantly not-quite-flavorless as an unconsecrated Communion wafer, that other totem of childhood’s dark underbelly.
R.I.P., Neccos. (Maybe.) You’ll be right there in candy hell next to Hydrox. Except oh shit, Hydrox are back!