Heart-Shaped Conversation Candies Have Been Around Forever!
Some people have a strong aversion to these pastel-colored delicacies, while others adore them. However, despite their divisive appeal, the hearts return to candy stores every year.
Candy heart aficionados and detractors may agree on one point, however: when it comes to discussion hearts, their history is far more interesting than any dispute surrounding their status as a holiday candy icon.
The sugary candies, also known as Sweethearts, love hearts, or candy hearts, are fashioned like hearts and bear small phrases such as “Be Mine” and “XOXO.” The conversation hearts are available in a variety of tastes, including cinnamon, lemon, orange, lime, and chocolate; but, if you ask a conversation heart hater, they may claim that they all taste like chalk.
Conversation Heart Candies Have an Almost Two-century History
Conversation heart candies are the perfect example of how incredible it is that their basic formula has remained unaltered for nearly two centuries.
According to the book Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy, NECCO, which stands for New England Confectionery Company, was the company responsible for the creation of conversation hearts, also known as sweethearts.
In 1847, Oliver Chase, a Boston pharmacist, desired to enter the lozenge business. Realizing how difficult it was to create them manually at the time, he invented the machine that automatically rolled and pressed the dough into lozenges.
Oliver realized after a short time that the pharmaceutical road was not for him and instead opted to create NECCO and make the delectable wafers that his machine invention produced.
Daniel Chase, the brother of NECCO's founder, thought it would be a brilliant idea to print messages on the wafer candies of the company. Initially, each message was hand-written on each piece of candy.
Interestingly, the sentiments on the hand-written chocolates were typically far longer than those on modern conversation heart candies. In time, though, David developed a method for mass-producing the candy using a die-cut press and vegetable colors.
In the early 20th century, NECCO decided to begin cutting wafer candies into heart shapes. The messages were shorter, production was increased, and they became an integral part of Valentine's Day festivities. The formula for conversation candies has changed very little over the course of almost 160 years.
Who Was the Inventor of Conversation Hearts?
1902 saw the invention of conversation hearts by the New England Candy Company (NECCO). Originally referred to as Sweethearts, this delectable and chalky confection was marketed throughout the Valentine's Day holiday season.
Oliver Chase, the creator of the machine that crushed sugar and cut the lozenge shape, created lozenges before Sweethearts. Oliver Chase and his brother Daniel founded the New England Confectionery Company, NECCO, home of the original NECCO Wafer, with this machine.
This combination of compressed sugar and artificial flavorings produced a chalky candy that children, adults, and even World War I and World War II soldiers adored. Soon after the invention of the wafer, additional shapes such as horseshoes, clocks, baseballs, and postcards appeared.
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Conversation Hearts Are Soulful
Let's be honest, conversation hearts are neither the best-tasting nor the second-best candy in the world. However, there is something about them that appeals to people of all ages.
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The elder generation would undoubtedly recall a period when their middle school crush handed them conversation hearts for Valentine's Day. Or perhaps their grandma kept a few boxes stowed at her home in case a grandchild needed a pick-me-up on a particular occasion.
Ask the younger generation, and they will tell you that it is a combination of nostalgia for their youth and expression of who they are today. Who wouldn't want to munch on a few positive affirmations while celebrating Valentine's Day?
Whether you love candy, nostalgia, or people, if you love with all your heart, you will discover that the world is actually quite sweet. And if you're thinking to yourself, “I could use some conversation hearts this Valentine's Day,” you can order them here and we'll ship them directly to your home.
Why Do People Like Conversation Hearts?
The fact is that conversation hearts were not always so popular. They had a remarkable 100-plus-year run until 2018. In that year, NECCO declared bankruptcy, sold all of its candy recipes and shut down.
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Thus, Spangler Candy entered the scene and obtained the recipe for conversation hearts. In the same year, Spangler stated they had bought conversation hearts and will resume manufacturing in 2020.
In the initial months of the global pandemic in 2020, NECCO's original flavors for conversation hearts were reintroduced to the market. And they exploded from the shelf.