Origins & Information - Conversation Hearts

Oh will you look at that? Valentine's Day is upon us! I guess it's about time to write something lovey-dovey-themed. I'll take a little walk down history lane and tell you about America's favorite Valentine's Day candy.

With 100,000 pounds of Sweethearts made every day, the New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) has certainly perpetuated the sales and distribution of conversation hearts for 145 years. Candy hearts actually started out in other shapes as candies with messages on them; they were typically larger than their present state so that more complex messages could be written on them. The first messaged candy were referred to as "cockles" because they were shell-shaped and the messages themselves were printed on the wrapper or a piece of colored paper included inside, not candy. The candymakers then moved on to shapes like baseballs, postcards, and watches. The brother of NECCO's founder created the process of printing onto the candies themselves and McKeesport Candy Co was one of the first to make the actual conversation hearts.

The early 1990s is when NECCO decided to start changing up the sayings on the hearts (and retiring some). They have given the public some say in this process but have also made sure to keep up with the times. In the mid-90s is when they added "Fax Me" to the production; nowadays we have "Tweet Me" in our boxes. In 2010, the flavors and textures got re-formulated but the general recipe is "90 percent sugar, a dash of corn syrup, gelatin, gums, and artificial colors and flavorings." To check out some new ones from the past decade, check out this link.

Did you know that the hearts are actually differently flavored? I actually remember loving the white and purple ones whenever I had these as a kid; now it all makes sense! Here are the traditional flavors with their colors -
  • Pink - Cherry
  • Yellow - Banana
  • Orange - Orange
  • Green - Lemon
  • Purple - Grape
  • White - Wintergreen
  • Brown - Chocolate
I mentioned a change in 2010. Here were the vibrant new flavors (I say vibrant because the coloring changed too): strawberry, green apple, lemon, grape, orange and blue raspberry.

If you're interested in making custom ones, they do exist...but you may have to buy a full fall production line, which would give you a couple million hearts. If you want to be creative and have some time, check out to see how to make your own. Maybe I'll do it one day just to write inappropriate hearts, hah!