Sweethearts candies won't be available this Valentine's Day Sweethearts are an iconic Valentine's Day candy. (iStock/photogem/Windell Oskay/Flickr)
Sweethearts candies won't be available this Valentine's Day
Lexile

Sweethearts have helped romantics express their softer sides for more than a century. The pastel-colored, heart-shaped candies are stamped with cutesy phrases. The phrases include “Be Mine,” “Me & You” and “Love Me.” It also includes “Marry Me.” Sure, it’s not poetry, but it certainly gets the point across. And the treats have become a confectionary tradition, particularly on Valentine’s Day.

But this February 14, you will be hard pressed to find Sweethearts on grocery shelves. Production of the candies ground to a halt after the company that historically made them went out of business. That's according to Amelia Lucas reporting for CNBC.

The New England Confectionery Company (Necco), one of the oldest candy companies in America, had been making Sweethearts since the turn of the 20th century. But Necco was recently beset by financial woes. So it abruptly shut down in July after being purchased from a bankruptcy auction by Round Hill Investments. That's according to Clair Robins of Candystore.com. In September, Round Hill sold the SweetHearts brand to the Spangler Candy Company. But this was not in time for Spangler to produce enough candies for Valentine’s Day.

Sweethearts are a hugely popular snack during the most romantic time of the year. Robins reports that “conversation hearts” are America’s No. 1 candy during the Valentine’s season, accounting for around 80 percent of the sales. When it was still up and running, Necco produced 8 billion Sweethearts annually. It sold its full supply of the candy in the six-week period leading up to Valentine’s Day. It would be very difficult, in other words, for Spangler to meet demand for the treats within the span of just a few months.

Much of the candy's appeal can be attributed to the nostalgia it evokes. You won't find many who will advocate for their taste (the flavor has been compared to Pepto-Bismol), but they are an iconic American confectionary. They have changed and evolved with the rest of the nation.

As Annette Foglino wrote in a 2011 Smithsonian article, the origins of the candy can be traced back to Daniel Chase, the brother of Necco’s founder. He devised a machine that could stamp words onto candy with red vegetable dye. The precursors to conversation hearts were large, scalloped wafers adorned with rather long-winded messages. These messages read, for instance,: “Married in White, You Have Chosen Right” and “How Long Shall I Have to Wait? Please Be Considerate.”

By 1902, when the candy as we know it made its debut, the messages had been significantly shortened. Some of the original phrases—like “Be Mine,” “Be True” and “Kiss Me”—can still be seen on the candies today. But others have not stood the test of time. “Fax Me,” for instance, has been phased out in favor of the more contemporary “Text Me.”

It’s not clear when Sweethearts will be making their return to stores. Kirk Vashaw, Spangler Chairman and CEO, said in a statement that the company is “committed to making sure these brands meet consumer expectations when they re-enter the market. Doing it right takes time.” In response to a request for comment from CNBC, Spangler added:

For those in need of the conversation heart candy fix, you can still buy Sweethearts on Amazon, but just be aware that they will have been produced prior to July 2018. So, perhaps, for this year’s Valentine’s Day gift, chocolate might be the better bet.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What candy do you think best represents Valentine's Day? Why?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (13)
  • EmilyB-dec1
    2/04/2019 - 09:40 a.m.

    A candy that represents valentines day is chocolate covered cherrys because the cherry is like a heart insude someone.

  • jordant-orv
    2/04/2019 - 11:53 a.m.

    The sweetheart candy was one of my favorite. My other favorite was the Fun Dip candy, where you have that sugar stick and you dip it in the powder inside the bag. That was good. I have no clue they wanted to not sell them this year's Valentines Day!

  • nathanr-orv
    2/05/2019 - 11:14 a.m.

    I think the heart candy represents Valentines day the best because it's as a heart.

  • lduck-wim4
    2/07/2019 - 11:04 a.m.

    The candy I think that best represents Valentine's Day are Sweethearts. I think this because they have been around for a long time and people give them to their valentine on Valentine's Day. Also, the phrases on the hearts are cute and sweet.

  • rwils-wim4
    2/07/2019 - 11:09 a.m.

    A candy that i think resembles Valentines day is chocolate. Chocolate has been a classic sweet for anyone that has a special place in your heart. Chocolate can be decorated and given in many ways to appeal to the eye. Chocolate can come in all shapes and sizes for your partner. Chocolate is a perfect treat for others.

  • abroc-wim5
    2/07/2019 - 12:35 p.m.

    I'm so sad to hear that sweethearts won't be here this Valentines's Day! They are one of my favorite candies and even though they don't taste the best, they are iconic. I really hope these treats make a comeback because they are a favorite for a lot of people!

  • pkhat-wim5
    2/07/2019 - 12:35 p.m.

    I think the candy that best represents Valentine's Day is a heart-shaped box of chocolates. I think this because heart-shaped is a symbol of love. As for the "box of chocolates"part, I guess I think that way because in movies when the main character wants to make a romantic gesture. They would get some flowers and a box of chocolates.

  • calon-wim5
    2/07/2019 - 12:41 p.m.

    I think candy represents Valentine's Day because when my family gives you candy, that one of our special ways of showing affection, which is another way for lots people. For example, if someone gave you those "Sweethearts" candy, you'd feel like that's their own way of showing affection or to show that they were thinking of you. And the "Sweethearts" have a little "love" message on it to show that person's affection or "request" to you. So in my opinion, it's a special way of showing affection to people.

  • IzzyS-dec
    2/14/2019 - 08:09 a.m.

    I am sad that they are not making the candy this year because I love those candy they are so cute.

  • RyanS-dec1
    2/15/2019 - 09:46 a.m.

    Sweetheart candy is really good candy but they did not sell it on valentines day. Sweetheart candy was a good seller.

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