“Be Mine”: The History of Conversation Hearts

We’re wrapping up the Month of Love with the history of a candy that has spoken the words many a shy Valentine have wanted to say.

Either that, or they just like to read before they eat.

But first…

Previously, On Allison’s Written Words…

The Month of Love is strong with the Power of Love and other associated album compilations of great love songs of a certain time period from a certain company. The month also gives out little cards with licensed characters on them to its classmates, and watches an important film about love featuring celebrity siblings and Ted Danson’s Little Black Book.

Screenshot (107)

Did I mention at some point that Ted Danson was fulfilling community service?  Parking tickets in Los Angeles will trap you in a health class movie countless 1980s and 1990s kids will see.

Anyway, we’re wrapping up the Month of Love with the history of a candy that has spoken the words many a shy Valentine have wanted to say.

Either that, or they just like to read before they eat.

Be My Sweetheart: The Story of Conversation Hearts

Conversation Hearts (or Sweethearts) are sugar-tasting colorful heart-shaped candies manufactured around Valentine’s Day every year.  The popular candies have been manufactured by Necco (New England Confectionery Company), Brach’s, and other companies.

The story of their creation goes back to 1847, when Oliver R. Chase invented a machine that could cut lozenges from wafer candy, similar to Necco Wafers.  He started a candy factory from that humble creation.  In 1866, his brother, Daniel, began printing sayings on the candies, thanks to a machine he designed that could stamp the sayings on the candies.  Commonly made for weddings, the witty sayings included  “Married in pink, he will take a drink”, “Married in White, you have chosen right”, and “Married in Satin, Love will not be lasting.”

Yes, witty.  Don’t marry someone in pink, you’re gonna get DRUNK!

When I read that last one, I thought it said “Married in Satan.”  My mind never finds its way off the rails.

Sweethearts themselves, as we came to know them, were first manufactured in 1901 and produced in other styles that included postcards, lozenges, watches, horseshoes, and baseballs.

Thoroughly Modern Sweethearts

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Image: Mashed

By the 1990s, Necco looked to retire some sayings, while updating the hearts with more modern sayings such as ,”call me,” “email me,” and “fax me.”

Yes, “fax me.”

As the years go on, and younger people become far more sophisticated than the dinosaurs growing up in the 90s (the 1990s, smartass), the sayings further evolve.  I’m pretty sure “fax me” hasn’t seen the light of day since the 2000s, even though I have a perfectly good fax machine in my office. It’s legally old enough to purchase alcohol without a fake ID, but it still works.

These days, hearts tell you to “smile,” “laugh,” and “kiss me,” but also to “text me” instead of “call me.”  Because who the heck calls anyone these days?

call-me-image
Image: Desi Comments

The Sweethearts of the 2010s…and Beyond!

By 2010, Conversation Hearts /Sweethearts were re-inventing the wheel, starting with a change of flavor.  Abandoned was the classic pastel color for more vivid colors, and a variety of flavors (including sour hearts – yum!).  As modern as these changes tried to be, they proved to unpopular with Conversation Heart diehards.  And it wasn’t just the flavors – the messages weren’t even well-liked.

In 2011, Necco returned their flavors and styles to their original formula, and as of this year, the Conversation Hearts you liked as a 1990s elementary school kid are very much available for your thirtysomething taste.

And even more of a bummer, Necco declared bankruptcy in 2018, effectively selling off their candy brands.  The hearts are now made by Spangler Candy Company (after a hiatus in 2019 due to the sale and setting up of a new factory for Spangler). While the flavors used were the pre-Necco flavor, the hearts were not stamped with any sayings during this first year of production, due to equipment issues.

During its run producing Conversation Hearts, Necco produced eight million hearts per year, which meant plenty of opportunities to “call me,” “kiss me,” declare “puppy love,” or even “text me.”

No stats found on how many eager Conversation Heart lovers asked someone to “fax me.”

How Conversation Hearts Are Made!

YouTube channel Refinery29 produced a video just in time for Valentine’s Day 2017 that showed how the Sweethearts-branded hearts are made

Upload via Refinery29

Does Allison Like “Conversation Hearts”?

I actually do!

The chalky taste has always been a bit weird, but the novelty of the hearts has never gotten old.  When I came up with the idea to write about Conversation Hearts during brainstorming last week, I did some research, and yes, I was pleasantly surprised.  I had no idea the concept of the hearts goes back as far as it does, or that at one time, they were popular at weddings.  The antiquated sayings from the earliest concept is hilariously cute, but someone’s idea of witty may be a bit…not witty.

I remember hysterical laughing as a kid watching Bart Simpson paint some rather heartfelt messages on hearts in the episode “I Love Lisa” (the “choo-choo-choose you!” episode).  Though I’m sure no one would take offense to a heart that says “U STINK” these days.

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Image: Reddit

Scratch that, somebody probably would.

This National Geographic article mentions some of the “witty” expressions over the years. It’s from 2016, but it is relevant.

And Now, You!

 

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Oh my.  Image: Know Your Meme

Do you like Sweethearts (or Conversation Hearts) candies?  Any favorite sayings you’ve seen in the past, no matter how antiquated, that would make you laugh to see them today?  Did you ever get one that said “fax me”?  Do you remember the flavor changes, and what is your preference as to what flavor your Conversation Hearts are?

The Month of Love has officially wrapped today, but do not fear – a new theme awaits the month of March!  That theme will be revealed next Monday night at 10 pm EST!

Until then, have a great day!

 

 

2 comments

  1. You know I’ve posted on here lots of times and you’ve never faxed me… what gives? Actually I don’t have a fax machine because I don’t live in the 21st century of Back to the Future 2. I didn’t know they had one that said that, pretty funny.

    I put conversation hearts right next to candy corn, candy canes, the McRib, etc, I like to have a couple once a year, but that’s always enough. Good topic this month.

    Liked by 1 person

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