How Maine’s Favorite Potato Candy Got Its Name
If you've lived in Maine long, there's a good chance you've been given the opportunity to try a Needham.
This quintessential Maine candy is made by mashing potatoes, powdered sugar, and coconut together and forming them into a bar (or balls). Those are then dipped in semi-sweet or dark chocolate.
I was probably seven or eight the first time I had one. My father and I were visiting the home of one of the men who used to drive truck for him. The man's wife offered me one. I ate it and loved it. She waited until after I ate it to tell me it was "potato candy". She probably thought I would not eat it if I knew it was made from potato. She was right. Even though they were amazing, it was many years before I had another one.
In fact, it wasn't until recently, that I found out they were usually called "Needhams", But, why do we call them that?
According to the Bangor Daily News, the name refers to an Irish immigrant named George C. Needham. Needham was an evangelical Protestant preacher who became well known in New England in the 1870s. Born in 1846, he claimed that, at the age of 10, he was put on a ship that took him to South America. Eventually, he made his way to New England where he became known for his tent revivals and distaste for Catholics.
As for the name of the candy? In 1872, a Portland candy company named Seavey's created the odd combo of potato and coconut (how did that happen???) and decided to name them after the famed preacher.
And the rest, as they say, is history