Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away, and that means an explosion of pink and red cookies, cakes and stores full of those little chalky candy hearts. But as you toss back a few boxes this month, consider these 10 fun facts about Sweethearts.
The first hearts were invented in 1866 by Daniel Chase, brother of Necco founder Oliver Chase. They were called “Motto Hearts.” Necco was founded 14 years earlier, and the acronym stands for “New England Confectionery Company.” It’s one of the country’s oldest candy companies.
To satisfy demand for Sweethearts for Valentine’s Day, production for the next year starts right after the holiday in February and continues until mid-January. More than 7 billion candy hearts are made each year.
Sweethearts are just behind chocolate in candy sales during the holiday of love. Some 13 million pounds of the little candies are sold every year — mostly in the six weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.
The famous candies are made from a batter of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and food coloring. The dough is then rolled out, printed with messages, and cut into the tiny pastel hearts. It’s pretty much the same process and recipe that the company has used since the beginning.
Before World War I, Sweethearts came in different shapes including baseballs, watches and horseshoes.
The Big question
The “Marry Me” heart is the most requested, Aimee Scott, Necco’s marketing director told Smithsonian.
Original mottos from the candy’s earliest days still in production include “Be Mine,” “Be True” and “Kiss Me.”
Necco tries to keep current with the times and updates the phrases with trendy sayings of the times. While “Dig me,” “Hep Cat,” and “Fax Me” are now out of circulation, others like “You Rock,” “Text Me,” and “Me & U” have taken their place. There are about 45 different sayings out right now.
For each piece, 5 letters fit on the top line, and 4 fit on the bottom line. If a “W” is used, then there can only be 4 letters on the top line or 3 lines on the bottom.
Fun with science
When you’re sick of snacking on sugary hearts, there’s a fun experiment you can try. If you put your candy hearts in a glass of carbonated soda, they’ll float to the bottom only to rise back up again, only to sink again and so on. This is because the hearts are denser than soda.