Are Conversation Hearts the Worst Valentine’s Day Candy?
When I was a kid, one of my favorite days at school was Valentine’s Day. Everyone would trade their favorite characters or cartoons for little cards, and to my parents’ delight, I would be sent home with a ton of sugar I had consumed, and more to eat.
But they never have to worry about the one thing I eat is sweetheart. you know those. Tiny pastel candies, aka dialogue hearts, are printed with small phrases such as “BE MINE” or “LOVE U”. Their purpose on Valentine’s Day seems to be the same as Peeps’ purpose for Easter or candy corn for Halloween – people either love them or hate them.
I’m not particularly strong on candy corn and peeps, but I hate sweethearts. If you take all the good and dandy stuff of the classic, candy-like Smarties and completely strip it of all its fun and joy, you’ll be left with Sweethearts. The flavors of banana, cherry and holly are odd at best, and the texture is an exact replica of chalk.
Now, you might say, ‘But what about the nostalgia factor? Sweetheart has been around for years! let’s start.
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The origin of candy canes dates back to the 1800s, when a pharmacist invented a machine that could cut lozenges, the most popular remedy for sore throats. Eventually, the machine was used to make candy, add food coloring, and create different shapes such as baseballs, horseshoes, and hearts. Today, more than 8 billion sweethearts are produced annually, 80% of which are sold around V Day. Thanks to capitalism and the push for people to buy anything in the shape of a heart for their partner every year, they’ve come to value the couple’s official holiday.
In 2019, the New England Confectionery Company, or Necco, the largest maker of these talc-flavored snacks, went out of business. Spangler Candy got the name, and with the tight turnaround of mobile equipment procurement and logistics between factories, the world went a year without Sweethearts. No one can exchange little xoxo messages on little soft hearts (unless you happen to find some made by Brach’s).Do you Actually Notice? I know I don’t.
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Apart from being so forgettable that they can take a full year off, Sweethearts aren’t known for being perfect. Letters are often cut off, have ink bleed, and sometimes they are just completely blank. Let’s not even get into weird messages like “smash it” or “fear less”, does anyone remember when they said “let’s read it”? After two full years of a pandemic, they should be reading “How are you?” and “Put on your mask.”
At the end of the day, the nostalgia for them is strong, but not enough for them to be noticed when they go to MIA. You can get better taste and texture in Smarties (does anyone really like artificial banana flavors?), and they’re not as cute as when you were five. I’m sorry if you sent them to me on Valentine’s Day, but I think we need to talk…
Felicia LaLomia Food and Culture Editor Felicia LaLomia is Delish’s Food and Culture Editor.
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