Candy hearts with sweet sayings
Photo © Paige Foster at SXC
The small, candy hearts that people give, receive and eat at Valentine's Day are produced by a single company called NECCO, which stands for New England Confectionary Company. NECCO was founded in 1847 by Oliver Chase and his brother Silas, during the Industrial Revolution. The industrial advances that were occurring at the time allowed Oliver to invent the first American candy machine. This initial machine would become known as the Chase Lozenge Machine.
In 1866, another brother of Oliver's named Daniel, invented a candy machine of his own. This machine created "Conversation Candies", or small candies with sayings on them. The candies could be shaped into a variety of things, but it wasn't until 1902 that they took the form of candy hearts. Back in the early days of the candies, the sayings were somewhat like fortunes at weddings. As time went on and the popularity of the heart shaped candies exploded, the sayings became more romantic, amorous and friendly. Some famous sayings on the hearts include "Be Mine", "True Love", and "Hug Me".
The sayings on the candy hearts are updated continuously in order to stay current with the times. More recent additions include "Fax Me", "Call Me" and "Email Me". Walter Marshall, a retired NECCO Vice President, stated that the new sayings can be tricky, and that they can't be "offensive, distasteful or too wordy".
The popularity of candy hearts has exponentially increased over time. NECCO states that they produce over 100,000 pounds of candy hearts every day of the year in order to meet the demand during the Valentine's Day season. That totals over 30 million pounds of candy hearts, and they sell out in the six weeks prior to Valentine's Day!
1. NECCO Sweethearts - http://www.necco.com/ourbrands/default.asp?brandid=8