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News from Candyland

News item: Due to plummeting sales, the New England Confectionery Company announced that it is scrapping the all-natural version of its flagship candy – the Necco Wafer – and will return to making the chalky sugary treat with the much-beloved artificial flavors and colors.

Despite extensive focus group testing and market analysis, the all-natural version of the Necco Wafer is has been consigned to the trashcan of candy history.

The recently outplaced VP of Marketing and Flavor Evangelist, Dartmouth and Harvard Business School graduate, Bryan Tucker was still stinging from being chased down the hallways of the privately-owned, Cambridge-based business by the wheelchair-bound 97 year old great-great grandson of the founder, Cornelius Emerson Wadsworth, and being physically ejected from the building. Interviewed while he was picking up his belongings from the pavement, Mr. Tucker fumed, “I was brought in to turn around this moribund monument to tooth decay and lead it into the twentieth century with demographically researched flavors and improved mouth feel. And this is what I get.” As he surveyed his mangled Swingline Stapler, he added angrily, “Those mother-(expletives), (expletive)-sucking (expletives) can take their (expletive) Necco Wafers and ram them up their (expletives).

At the core of the controversy that alienated the loyal legions of Necco munchers were the new flavors and perhaps more than the flavors themselves, the new flavors’ names. Replacing the classic eight flavors – orange, lemon, lime, clove, chocolate, cinnamon, licorice, and wintergreen – were Steak Tartarberry, Bran Bomb, Bok Choy Ahoy, Lima Bean Surprise, Placenta Mint, Absinthe with Real Wormwood, Tripe Stripes, and Clove, which was held over from the original line up because, even though no one eats it, hardcore fans would have raised a ruckus. Reached by phone, Toby Wadsworth, president of the company, said that he appreciated all the work Mr. Tucker did but that clearly the taste tests were flawed.

“For reasons we’re still investigating, Mr. Tucker only tested in a southern California, Cambridge, and Seattle. These are not our core markets. I guess the thought was that we could gain mouth-share by challenging Altoids and other similar upscale treats. We goofed.”

In an informal market test outside a south Boston market, we asked ten-year-old Tommy O’Brien what he thought of the Necco wafers he had just purchased. “I think they’re (expletive) awesome and what I like to do is to put different flavors in my mouth and chew them up and see what color I can make my tongue. Once I threw up on the school bus and it looked like a (expletive) rainbow!”

Asked about his current job status, Mr. Tucker said British Petroleum had already hired him. “Because of the inevitability of another oil spill, particularly if Rick Perry is elected President, they’ve hired me to come up with some aromatic additives to the crude that will create a pleasant, harmless odor when the tar balls start washing up on shore. I’m thinking bayberry, Norwegian pine, maybe lilac, and we’ll use targeted scenting to improve olfactory congruence with the region being destroyed by the spill.”

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