LIFE

Candy Hearts Will Be Unavailable This Valentine’s Day For The First Time In 153 Years

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

In CANDY EMERGENCY news: For the first time since 1866, Sweethearts conversation hearts will not be available for Valentine’s Day.

For 153 years, Valentine’s Day has been marked by these instantly recognizable candies. They don’t taste like much, but they sure do convey a message. Stamped with words like “Miss You” and “Call Me,” they’re the perfect thing to slip into a card or gift.

The candy hearts were originally invented in 1866 by Necco, which continued to sell them year after year. The company never skipped a year, and all was well in the world.

Last year, though, Necco shut down for good. A company called Spangler Candy Company took over the Sweethearts brand, but it didn’t have enough time to produce the billions of candy hearts that are normally sold during Valentine’s Day season.

Thus no conversation hearts. We might as well cancel Valentine’s Day.

On second thought — anyone have some stale old Sweethearts from 2018 to spare?

Sweethearts conversation hearts are a hallmark of the Valentine’s Day season. These classic candies have been around since 1866, when the New England Confectionary Company (Necco) first debuted them.

The hearts have always been a smashing success. Honestly, it’s hard to picture the holiday without at least a few of these hearts scattered around! They’re the most popular Valentine’s Day candy in America.

In the six weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day alone, over 8 billion candy hearts are sold, according to Smithsonian.com. That’s 13 million pounds of cute candy.

Many of those hearts go to children — nothing says Valentine’s Day like receiving several packets of conversation hearts from your classmates at school.

Other times, though, people use the hearts as ironic romantic gestures.

Some of the phrases on the hearts — like “Kiss Me” and “Be Mine” — have been around since the company’s beginnings.

Other phrases have been added to reflect the times, like “Text Me.”

Thanks in large part to the success of the conversation hearts, Necco became the oldest continually operating candy company in the country.

But in July 2018, the company suddenly announced that it was closing down.

That meant someone had to buy Necco and take over, or alternatively, someone could purchase the brands individually.

Enter Spangler Candy Company to save the day.

Spangler, which sells Dum Dums and Circus Peanuts, bought the Sweethearts brand. However, Necco’s factories had shut down in July, and Spangler didn’t take over until September.

That was not nearly enough time to get the hearts ready in time for Valentine’s Day.

By comparison, when Necco was operating, it took 11 months to produce the 8 billion hearts required for Valentine’s Day.

So there will be NO SWEETHEARTS this year. Tragedy.

Spangler’s CEO announced that the hearts will be back on the shelves in 2020. Also, you might see some leftover boxes from last year for sale, which you could buy if you don’t care about how old they are.

Otherwise, you’ll have to resort to showing your affection with other sweets. Like chocolate! You can’t go wrong with chocolate.

Or you could opt for one of the many knockoff conversation heart candies, like the Sour Patch Kids version. Those hearts have modern sayings like “Bae” and “Bruh.”

A company called Brach’s also makes candy hearts that are quite similar to Sweethearts. Honestly, most people probably won’t know the difference.

Still, though, it’s not the same as that classic, original Necco candy.