Whether you love to eat them, decorate with them, or use them to have some fun with your valentine, Brach’s Sweethearts conversation candies are one of the most iconic things about Valentine’s Day. But do you know their actual history?
The brothers Oliver and Daniel Chase launched the New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) in 1860, and their first candy was the famous wafers. After Daniel figured out a way to include a message with the candies, that became NECCO’s signature. The brothers began taking orders in 1866 for weddings and other special occasions, and then took the idea to the public in 1902 with the launch of Sweethearts conversation hearts.
Eventually, Brach’s began making their own version of the candied hearts, and they now update their sayings constantly, explains Peter Goldman, senior director of Brach’s & Seasonal Confections of Ferrara Candy Company. While some sayings turn up year after year, the company schedules numerous meetings to figure out what the hearts will say. “We start planning next year’s seasonal business one year out. As far as changing out specific sayings, we don’t necessarily add new sayings every year, but we do closely watch new phrases and quips that come into our everyday language,” he says. Here are 15 more things you never knew about Valentine’s Day.
Texting and social media have added to the options, Goldman says. As LOL and BFF have made their way into everyday language, they’ve also found their way onto the hearts. “Social media has added a treasure trove of new expressions, acronyms, and emoticons that have made their way onto Brach’s conversation hearts. As we bring in new sayings, we retire some sayings that no longer seem as relevant to the current time,” he explains.
However, it’s not just buzzwords that the company keeps up with: Color and flavor trends also have an impact on the brand. “We do continuous evaluation of all our products, including conversation hearts—tracking flavors, colors, and even textural trends—to make sure we are staying relevant and on top of emerging trends,” he says.
While some of the most popular sayings, like Be Mine, Love You, Let’s Kiss, Miss You, and Hug Me are timeless and always popular, says Goldman, every once in a while there is an error of sorts that makes the sayings a little bit different from originally planned. In an interview with The Atlantic, Hugh B. Albert, production manager at NECCO, explained: “Our Ps sometimes look like Fs, so we can’t say anything like ‘Pucker Up’ for reasons you understand. Last year, we received a letter from a parent with a picture of a heart that was supposed to say ‘Smile.’ But because of the way the print came out—no S, a messy E—it ended up looking more like ‘MILF.’ Her son had no clue what that was about, so he asked his mom. She wrote, ‘I don’t know what you people are doing.’ Anyway, we do our best to avoid things that have the Ps in them. This is the human element.”
So, what can we expect from the 2019 version of the iconic candy? Goldman said Brach’s will be rolling out some more modern sayings as well as text versions of sweet messages. “Some of the newer sayings on Brach’s Conversation Hearts include TTYL (Talk To You Later), Adorbz, H&K (Hugs & Kisses), and LYMY (Love You Miss You).” Next, find out the most popular candy from the year you were born.