Unlike some people, Katie Samuels has fond memories of eating Necco Wafers, the chalky, multi-colored candies made by the New England Confectionery Co.
As a kid, Samuels and her siblings would play “church” at their grandmother’s house, placing the circular treats into their mouths as if they were taking Communion, she said.
So when the 23-year-old Florida resident learned recently that the Revere-based sweets manufacturer was at risk of closing down and laying off hundreds of its employees due to financial insecurities, she reached out to candy wholesaler Candystore.com to try and scoop up as many packages of the iconic sweets as possible.
Desperate times, as they say, lead to desperate measures.
“I offered to trade my 2003 Honda Accord for all of their stock,” she said by telephone Tuesday. “I knew it was kind of a silly thing to say, but I’m serious. I don’t have much right now, so I was like, ‘I’ve got this car, and I want all that candy, so maybe they would consider it.’ ”
In March, Necco chief executive Michael McGee notified the state and Revere Mayor Brian M. Arrigo that 395 workers could be laid off if the candymaker can’t find a buyer. Necco, which has been producing wafers since 1847, is Revere’s largest employer.
News that the company — they’re also known for old-timey classics like those tooth-hugging Squirrel Nut Zippers and crunchy Sweethearts — could close by May allegedly sent people from across the country into Twinkie-hoarding mode.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that candy connoisseurs have been maniacally calling up distributors, asking to buy products in bulk.
Candystore.com is calling it “The Great Necco Wafer Panic.”
The business claims sales of wafers have jumped since the Globe first wrote about Necco’s financial troubles last month.
“Necco sales spiked more than 50%. Necco Wafers are up 63%,” the company wrote in a blog post. “A clear signal of panic-buying.”
They said a “nice older woman” called and wanted to buy 100 pounds of wafers. E-mails by the hundreds about Necco branded candies came rolling in. And then, of course, “a young woman named Katie contacted us offering to trade her used Honda Accord for all our Necco Wafers.”
Samuels said while her e-mail — which included a picture of her black car — was sent slightly in jest, she would have parted ways with the Honda if it meant getting her hands on some candy.
“It was my Granny’s favorite and she always had it at her house. When I saw on the Internet they aren’t going to make it anymore I was kind of freaked out,” she said. “My boyfriend has a car and he drives me everywhere anyways.”
While Los Angeles-based CandyStore.com didn’t accept the offer, Samuels did make off with two packages — about 48 rolls total — of the wafers that she paid for on her credit card, she said.
“Maybe I’ll try to get more,” she said. “I guess what I said was kind of impulsive. . . . They thought I was crazy, but they were funny for even entertaining me.”
This unhappiness about the potential wafer-shortage seems to have extended all the way to Oregon, too.
Students from an elementary school there penned letters to Arrigo, Revere’s mayor, asking him to do something to spare the factory.
“You can help buy the Necco company so they are saved and not closed,” one student told the mayor, according to an employee at City Hall who read the plea to a Globe reporter by phone.
A second concerned student wrote, “employees won’t be able to find a job as fast to pay for their bills, and could even get their houses taken away.”
That ending would put a bad taste in the mouth of any candy fan.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear. Katheleen Conti of the Globe staff contributed to this report.