Nearly everyone remembers Valentine’s Day in elementary school when you would trade Valentine’s Day cards and candy with other members of your class. Inevitably, that Valentine’s Day candy would be Sweethearts – that small heart-shaped sugar candies that tasted like minty black licorice chalk with a message printed on it like DATE NITE or KISS ME or the classic BE MINE.
So, in honor of Valentine’s Day and the candy that lets you express your feelings to your beloved with a maximum character count of nine letters (seven if you use a “W”) or 271 characters less than Twitter allows, today we get sweet on the history of the conversation hearts candies known as Sweethearts.
The history of Sweethearts begins with pharmacist Oliver Chase’s invention of a machine that made producing lozenges easier.
You see, when Chase invented his new lozenge-making machine in 1847, the most common cure for a sore-throat at the time was the lozenge which was, in essence, just some medicine mixed with a chalky paste made out of sugar. However, making the things took a lot of work.
First you had to pulverize the medicine and sugar with a mortar and pestle, then add some water until it was a doughy consistency. Next you had to knead that dough, roll it out and then cut it into small discs and let them dry.
Oliver knew that there had to be a better way to make these lozenges, so he created a machine he called a “lozenge cutter” that made the whole process simpler and easier. Seeing the possibility of the machine bringing in more money as a candy maker, Oliver got out of the pharmacy business and open up a candy making company called Chase and Company. Soon after, he would change the name of the company to the New England Confectionery Company, or Necco and call the lozenges Necco Wafers.
It seems that the Chase family was full of geniuses, because soon after inventing the Necco Wafer, Oliver’s brother, Daniel Chase invented a way to press words into the wafers in 1866 that used a felt roller pad dampened with red vegetable coloring and idea he likely got from a popular scallop shell-shaped candy that included a rolled-up paper with a “motto” printed on it. Instead of paper, however, Daniel found a way to directly print the mottoes on candy.
It wouldn’t be until 1902 that the candies would become the heart-shaped candy we know today, and soon after, the Chase brothers watched their conversation hearts become a big success.
So, how are these Valentine’s Day candies made today? Well, the company that makes Sweethearts today, the Spangler Candy Company, combines sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, flavors, gums and colors into a mixing machine to create a dough. After the dough is created it is put in a machine that presses it flat. Once flat, the dough is then stamped with sayings and then cut into hearts which then go into a drying tunnel for thirty minutes after which the hearts are mixed together in assorted flavors, colors and sayings, then packaged and shipped to stores all around the country where they eventually end up in the hands of your secret crush.
So, where did all of those cute sayings come from? Well, when Daniel Chase first started printing the messages on the Necco Wafers, they were a bit bigger than the hearts you know and love today. As a result, he could put longer messages on them that read:
HOW LONG SHALL I HAVE TO WAIT? PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE
Or the double sided:
WHY IS A STYLISH GIRL LIKE A THRIFTY HOUSEKEEPER?
BECAUSE SHE MAKES A BIG BUSTLE ABOUT A LITTLE WAIST.
(It seems like Daniel may have been the inventor of the pick-up line as well.)
Ultimately, these were shortened to what we know today as BE MINE and KISS ME.
Of course, the makers of Sweethearts have had to keep up with the times and, as a result, every year they come up with 20 more sayings and let go of some of the outdated ones like GROOVY, FAX ME, UR DA BOMB and the like. You can also get them in Spanish version today with TE AMO and DE NADA.
So that’s the story behind those kitschy Valentine candies known as Sweethearts. However, if you’re looking for candy for Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t have to be the traditional chocolates and conversation hearts.
Why not give your sweetheart what they really want for Valentine’s Day this year – our special Valentine’s Day “Bless Your Heart!” gift box that includes all the great Stuckey’s memorabilia that your Valentine has been in love with for years like our world Famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll, Pecan Pralines, Pecan Divinity, and much, much more including Cinnamon Cube Pops, Birthday Cake Popcorn, a Candy Shoppe Coffee Mug, a “Bless Your Heart” Funny Button and Stuckey’s Logo Plush Teddy Bear.
On the other hand, if your Valentine’s is real Southern Belle or has all the charm of a Southern Gent, then why not treat them to our Sweet Southern Goodness Box? It includes our deliciously iconic pecan log roll, a bar of our mouthwatering pecan divinity, a bag of crunchy Honey Roasted Pecans and our even crunchier peanut brittle, and our Stuckey’s branded Candy Shoppe Coffee Mug to serve as a warm memento to your lover every time your Valentine uses it.
It’s the perfect gift for that special Valentine who loves Stuckey’s! Visit our website at stuckeys.com for more gift ideas and have your Stuckey’s merchandise delivered to that special someone just in time for Valentine’s Day!
But hurry, today’s the last day to order for East Coast delivery by Valentine’s Day!
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