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Ferragut: Nerpel went too far in disparaging Necco Wafers

In his June 7 letter, Zach Nerpel stepped over the line. I'm going to give him a pass on being confused by the platypus. Who isn't? A mammal with a duck bill that lays eggs and has webbed feet? Really? And Nerpel can blather on about the baby boomers "having habits and backwards views that die hard....in their dusty, golden aged noggins..." I'll give him that one, too. We can be a pathetic lot. But for him to attack Necco Wafers? Unforgivable. The line in the sand has been drawn. Pay attention, Zach.

My love affair with Necco Wafers began at Y Camp when I was 11 years old. Twice a week our cabin leader would take us on a hike to a mom and pop store for a candy run. Each kid had 10 cents. Most kids would by candy bars, Mallow Milks, baseball cards (gum) or 10 pieces of penny candy. The kids who chose that stuff were all about instant gratification (Zach, that's an embedded boomer trait, one you probably inherited from your parents. Your welcome.).

But I bought 2 Necco roles, 5 cents each. While the other kids were finished with their candy before we got back to camp, I was negotiating my Necco Wafer strategies to see how long they would last. Those seven delicious flavors, if played right, could carry me through three days and nights of bliss.

You see, the trick is to take one wafer then lay it on your tongue. Let it linger there for a while and soon the flavor will reveal itself to you. A typical one-wafer session, when consumed properly could last over a minute. My guess is that Zach would drop a couple of wafers in his mouth and crunch them to pieces like a madman. That would be akin to chewing glass. No fun, no taste, hard as rocks. No wonder you hated them.

I chose one of two strategies on the walk home from camp. One is to group them by flavor, my least favorite to best ever. Typically I'd start with lemon, then orange, white mint, pink, chocolate and finally the crème de' la crème: licorice. It would take me one full day and most of the night to finish them. But knowing the finish line meant double doses of chocolate and licorice, my anticipation was palpable and easily endured.

My second strategy was just to take them just as they were rolled, surprise on top of surprise. It might be two licorice wafers in a row followed by a palate-cleansing white mint and a tart lemon as a dessert. How good is that?

Finally, my family is from Boston. That Y camp week in July 1962 was followed by our second family trip to Boston. Driving along the Charles River, my uncle George said, "Look Jimmy, see there? That's where they make Necco Wafers!" And there is was, a big imposing building on the Charles, with a huge electric neon sign. It stated proudly: New England Confection Co. (Necco). I could have cried.

That's it Zach: Game, set, match.

Ferragut is a behavioral health specialist and occasional contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages. Email jferragut50@gmail.com

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