While I do enjoy those cute little candy hearts, it's been a couple years since I have had any. I have fond memories of them from grade school, when we would have our little Valentine's Party. All us kids would be able to go take down our handmade decorated folder from the wall, in which the week prior, it would get filled with little valentines from the other kids, and some would even put the little hearts in their envelope. But have you ever heard the story behind them?
The story of conversation hearts began in 1847, when a Boston pharmacist named Oliver Chase longed for a way to get in on the apothecary lozenge craze. Lozenges were quickly gaining steam as the medicine conveyance of choice, and were also popular remedies for sore throats and bad breath. But making lozenges was complicated and time-consuming—the process involved a mortar and pestle, kneading dough, rolling it out, and cutting it into discs that would eventually become lozenges.
There had to be a better way, and Oliver came up with it. Inspired by the new wave of gadgets and tools that hit America as it industrialized, he invented a machine that rolled lozenge dough and pressed wafers into perfect discs. Oliver had inadvertently created America’s first candy-making machine, and before long, he had abandoned his pharmacy business to crank out miles of what would become New England Confectionery Company ,NECCO wafers.
Legend has it that Oliver’s NECCO wafers were carried by Civil War soldiers, and some speculate that the tradition of sending loving greetings to the troops morphed into the conversation heart, but those claims are hard to verify. What is clear is that as Oliver built his candy empire, his brother Daniel decided he wanted a piece of the action. Inspired by the growing market for Valentine’s cards, Daniel wondered if it would be possible to print sentimental messages on candy. In 1866, he figured out a way to print words on candy with vegetable dye during the cutting process.People loved conversation candies (they weren’t available in heart shapes until 1902 though, and their witty messages, which could stoke the flames of love or warn off flaky suitors.
Over the years, conversation hearts lost size, but gained many more phrases. NECCO estimates that it made nearly 100,000 pounds of the hearts each day throughout the year in preparation for Valentine’s Day. The oldest candy company Necco got bought out just recently, so it's the first time since the early 1900's there were no original candy hearts, as the new company didn't have the time to produce the quantities. But next year there will be back, since they also purchased the recipe for them.
I still remember my first crush.There was one cute boy named Ian that was with me all through grade school. I always looked forward to his Valentine
I was always hoping for a little heart that said marry me...or at least do me...but alas...it never showed up.