The sweet candy hearts that fill up store aisles and candy dishes in early February got their start around the time of the Civil War. The original candies, called cockles, were made from sugar and flour and contained mottoes or sayings, which were printed on thin paper and rolled up inside the folded, shell-shape candy.
Daniel Chase, the brother of the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) founder, began printing sayings on NECCO candy in the 1860s. The candy became popular at weddings, where sayings such as "Married in satin, love will not be lasting" and "Married in white, you have chosen right" foretold humorous prophecies of the new marriage.
The conversation candy hearts that we know today date back to 1902, when the company printed sayings on candy shapes including postcards, baseballs, horseshoes, and watches. The sayings are updated every year and the hearts have been used in creative crafts, cake decorations, cute Valentine's Day gifts, and -- sweetest of all -- marriage proposals.
- The New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) makes more than 8 billion candy hearts every year to keep up with the demand for the sweet treat.
- Every day from late February through mid-January, around 100,000 pounds of conversation candy hearts are made.
- The entire amount produced during this time sells out in six weeks. Candy hearts are the best-selling Valentine's Day candy.
- In 2010, for the first time in 145 years, the company discarded all of the sayings for the conversation hearts and created a new line with expressions selected by the public.
- The most popular new sayings for conversation candy hearts are "Tweet Me," "Text Me," "You Rock," "Love Bug," "Soul Mate," and "Me + You."
- In order to get the old sayings, you can have them custom made -- but you'll have to buy a full production run (1.7 million candy hearts!).
Craft this candy-heart frame as a sweet homemade gift for your Valentine. Measure a cardboard circle to fit on top of a picture frame. Glue the candy hearts on the cardboard head-to-head, adding another layer on top. To finish the easy gift, glue the cardboard with the candy hearts onto the frame. You can alternate colors on a single frame, or adhere the hearts with the sayings facing up for a more creative and personalized approach.