Thursday, February 9, 2012

America's Sweethearts

Don't be misled by the title. I'm talking about those chalky mint flavored hearts that practically everyone in the US has seen or received for Valentine's Day. Yes, since I couldn't come up with a fun and interesting topic, I thought I'd research those sweethearts.

Technically, they're called conversation sweethearts and they weren't always heart shaped. In the beginning when Abraham Lincoln was president, the New England Confectionary Company sold a shell-shaped cookie and wrapped it in paper stamped with a saying. Fast forward 20 or so years and the owners of NECCO, first found a way to press candy into lozenges (pill-shape) then came up with a way to stamp sayings on the lozenges using red food dye.

Around the 1900s, the process improved and soon the company turned out heart-shaped candy with sayings. Of course, there were other shapes--baseballs, horseshoes, etc, but the heart-shape won the day. There were larger hearts produced to hold longer sayings and these were apparently very popular for weddings.

The 1990s saw a few changes as the company sought to update the sayings stamped on the candy. They reflected new fangled technology with sayings such as call me, fax me and email me. This year, there's rumors that some will even say tweet me. They jumped on board the Twilight phenomenon in 2009 with such phrases as Dazzle and Bite me. And each year they get suggestions for new sayings.

According to the company's website, the recipe hadn't changed much over the last 144 years but in 2010 they reformulated adding new sugar-free and chocolate versions (as well as a few new flavors.)

I might have to keep an eye out for the chocolate ones this year when I pick up boxes for my kids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Interesting. I used to love getting those as a kid. Can't stand the flavor now, but it it's chocolate....;) Great post. Thanks for sharing.