Admiral Byrd took 2 1/2 tons of NECCO Wafers to Antarctica? Citation needed. Can you help?
A friend of mine forwarded me a list of odd trivia he found on the web.
Note - it's NOT the typical duck's quack not echoing garbage I can easily debunk on Snopes - he knows I spend way too much time figuring out ways to tell him exactly why he is wrong, so most of this confirms with a quick search. . .
One of the bits however was this nugget:
"Admiral Richard Byrd, a polar explorer, traveled to the South Pole with 2 ½ tons of Necco Wafers in tow – his team had nearly a pound per week for their 2-year stay in Antarctica."
Full disclosure - I am one of the only people under 60 that I know who actually love and enjoy NECCO Wafers - even the mysterious purple wafer. (I found out a few years ago it's clove flavored.) I just wanted to mention it in case you just want to respond telling me you think they are horrible and disgusting. I won't be offended, but I will be a little sad. . .
This South Pole/NECCO connection just sounded odd - I had to dig in.
Some quick Google searching found an almost identical passage on the NECCO website:
"In the 1930s, Rear Admiral Richard Byrd, a polar explorer, traveled to the South Pole with 2 ½ tons of Necco Wafers in tow – his team had nearly a pound per week for their 2-year stay in the Antarctic. "
As much as I love their candy, I am not sure I can count the company website as a reliable source.
Wikipedia had this passage in their entry on NECCO
"In the 1930s, Richard E. Byrd famously took 2½ tons (2,300 kg) of NECCO Wafers to the South Pole, nearly a 1 pound (0.45 kg) a week for each man in his party, for their two-year stay in the Antarctic."
The footnote for this bit of info brought me to the Local Legacies
section of the Library of Congress website.
When I followed that link, the Necco-Byrd connection shows up as:
"In the 1930s, Admiral Byrd took 2 1/2 tons of NECCO Wafers to the South Pole, practically a pound a week for each of his men during their two-year stay in the Antarctic."
At the bottom of the page was this note:
"Originally submitted by: Michael E. Capuano, Representative (8th District)."
It looks to me as if Rep. Capuano either used materials directly from NECCO, or a site that took the information from the NECCO website. I couldn't find anything that looked as if it came from outside of NECCO itself.
I dug around and found a reference in an actual published book! It's Candy: The Sweet History
by Beth Kimmerle. I found the passage in question on Google Books
"Two and a half tons of NECCO Wafers went to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd on an expedition as nutrition and treats for Eskimo children."
At first, I was happy to see SOME printed source for this.
Then I re-read that passage.
"Nutrition and treats for ESKIMO CHILDREN?" - was Byrd bring a bunch of Inuit kids thousands of miles south? Was he using them instead of sled dogs?
Random Aside - Inuit/Eskimos are from the freezing sections of furthest North America. North Pole expedition? You'll probably encounter a few more Inuit than elves on the way, but for the South Pole? No way. Antartica has no native human population.
As the crow flies, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina (closest inhabited land to Antarctica) is about 14,000 kilometers or 8,700 miles
from Nunavut, Canada. That's a long way to travel for some candy . . .
(You probably knew all this, but my mom got confused when I mentioned this to her.)
So, I have some doubts about Ms. Kimmerle's research, and her index, notes, sources, and bibliography are not accessible through Google books.
The question is this:
Can anyone verify that Byrd took NECCO Wafers on his expedition?
Can anyone find contemporary sources for this?
Or any sources of this that don't read as if they came right from NECCO's own corporate history?
Any help is greatly appreciated.