Quickpost: Necco Goes Natural, a Trend Worth Tracking
Several weeks ago, I received a Fedex package addressed to Fit and Frugal Natural Kitchen...the first and, so far, only shipment of any kind to arrive unexpectedly (quite the thrill, actually!). Inside were two neatly arranged rolls of Necco wafers, flanked on either side by tidily packaged almonds and dried fruit. It seems in the growing call for natural foods, 162-year old Necco wafers have been given a makeover. Necco (short for New England Confectionery Company) are now colored and flavored free of mysteriously numbered dyes and impossible-to-pronounce chemically derived ingredients. Instead, the light pastel and chocolatey brown colors are attained by grace of beet juice, purple cabbage, turmeric, cocoa powder, and other natural ingredients. Somewhat ironically, given the alignment of natural trends with an interest in greater sustainability, the decision to cut out fake colorings and additives means no more green. The candy company, which produces approximately 630 million of its wafer candies per year, is the first national candy brand to remove all artificial colors and flavors, and in doing so, found that green color is just too difficult to produce naturally and appealingly. In spite of the lack of green, the new, naturally improved Necco wafers look quite pretty. Not being much of a candy person, however, I wasn't sure I could be a good gauge for taste, so I've been distributing the roughly quarter-sized wafer sweets to friends. Bearing in mind that natural or not, we're still talking about candy, consisting primarily of sugar and corn syrup, the response has been positive. No one yet has used "weird" or "strange", or any related adjective in reaction; comments have included "tastes like Easter candy" and "sweet cake decorations" and have mostly hovered in the realm of "nice". Whether or not you happen to be a fan of Necco candies, hopefully the company's decision to go natural represents increased awareness on a large, permanent scale. At any rate, it's definitely worth watching trends like these, in any useful domain. Armed with information, we can help prove going natural is not just trendy but smart, too.