Needhams Were Created in Maine But Named After a Non-Mainer Who Almost Got Eaten by Cannibals
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
Maine Needhams Candy
What pops into your mind when you think of the Pine State?
Pine trees, duh, and then of course you have the classic lobster roll, moose, blueberries, lighthouses, and whoopie pies. I would definitely say those are some classic Maine staples.
But what about Needhams? Do you know what they are and have you ever had one?
My mom used to own a bakery and locals would ask for the special Maine treat almost daily. Apparently, they rank slightly below the whoopie but not by much. Maybe I’m too young, but I didn’t know what they were. I was born and raised in Maine and heard of the word ‘Needham’ but never actually knew what it was.
As Maine Needhams shares, the candy delicacy is a rich, moist coconut and potato filling covered in dark chocolate. It really is that simple.
Were Needhams Created in Maine?
The New England Historical Society actually breaks down the origin of this New England delicacy so that should tell you that it’s one pretty popular treat.
The historical society shares that a candy maker in Auburn, Mr. Seavey, introduced the potato candy to our state back in the day around 1872 when one of his cooks made one and everyone loved it. It was quite resourceful of this chef because at one point in time, Maine was the largest harvester of potatoes in the country. So that makes sense.
What Are Needhams Named After?
Mr. Seavey was a Mainer but he named the new candy after a preacher based out of Boston, George C. Needham. As the historical society points out, Needham was once on an English ship from Ireland when he was 10 years old and was tortured and starved by the captain and crew.
The torturing actually ended up saving his life when he was abandoned on a beach and almost eaten by South American cannibals. As part of the torture on ship, the crew branded him with tattoos and this freaked the cannibals out and they were allegedly, according to the historical society site, too nervous to eat Needham.
Apparently, this preacher was a hot topic around the North East and we aren’t entirely sure why Mr. Seavey named the potato candy after him, but I guess once you try one you just need ‘em.