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Twinkies owner acquires conversation heart maker Necco

The sweet success of Dylan's Candy Bar
The sweet success of Dylan's Candy Bar 04:51

The drama surrounding the bankrupt New England Confectionary Co. -- known as Necco -- has a sweetheart ending.

Sweetheart Candy Co., an entity controlled by investors Dean, Evan, and Daren Metropoulos , acquired the maker of the namesake candy wafers for $17.3 million after an earlier deal involving Spangler Candy Co. fell apart.

With roots predating the Civil War, Necco is the oldest continually operated U.S. candy company. Besides the sweet wafers that consumers either love or hate, it also makes Sweetheart Conversation Hearts, Candy Buttons, Mary Jane candies and Clark Bars. 

Necco will take the name Sweetheart Candy Co., a reference to its candy conversation hearts, which have long been a favorite on Valentine's Day. The transaction. which closed Thursday, was done through an entity called Round Hill Investments.

"Acquiring Necco is a special opportunity to create a robust platform designed to build critical mass and create the potential for consolidating additional confectionery brands in the near future," Daren Metropoulos said in a press release.

Necco filed for bankruptcy protection in April, a month after notifying officials in its hometown of Revere, Mass. that it would need to lay off hundreds of workers if it couldn't find a buyer. When word of the company's financial woes became public, fans of Necco Wafers began hoarding them, causing shortages and price spikes. 

Family-owned Spangler Co. had agreed last week to buy Necco for $18.83 million. According to media reports, Spangler informed the bankruptcy court that it wouldn't be able to close the acquisition without a discount. Round Hill had the next highest bid.

Daren Metropoulos works with his father, billionaire Dean Metropoulos, and brother Evan Metropoulos. Under the leadership of Dean Metropoulos, the family has revived the fortunes of distressed food companies including Hostess snack foods, Vlasic pickles, Ghirardelli chocolates and Chef Boyardee canned pasta products. 

The Metropoulos's have had some notable successes, such as Hostess. The baker now has a market cap of more than $1 billion after the family bought it while in bankruptcy. Dean Metropoulos sold Pabst Brewing Co. to entrepreneur Eugene Kashper and TSG Consumer Partners for a reported $700 million in 2014, nearly triple the $250 million he spent acquiring the company in 2010.

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