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Be Mine - Who Invented Sweethearts Conversation Hearts?

AKA conversation hearts, love hearts, conversation candies, and heart candy.

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Candy hearts
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They are the world's best selling Valentines Day candy, little heart-shaped sugar wafer candies with romantic sayings written on them, known as Sweethearts Conversation Hearts. It is easy to see why the little candies are so popular around Valentines Day, each candy is like a miniature Valentines Day card with a small declaration of love on each one.

Conversation Heart Sayings

Examples of the mottoes written on each candy heart include: Be Mine, Be True, The One I Love, Love Me, Kiss Me, Let's Get Busy, URA 10, and Sweet Talk. The heart sayings are always being updated to include more modern expressions like: Email Me, Tweet Me, Top Chief, U Rock, and LOL.

There are some basic rules as for what makes an ideal conversation heart saying. The sayings can't be "offensive, distasteful, or too wordy." Space is limited on the small hearts, there is generally only room for two or three words and maybe up to twelve letters in total.

The candies are made from sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, gums, coloring and flavoring. Not the most nutritional of ingredients, however, tasty enough for the daily production of 100,000 pounds of the candies which sell out every season. That equals about eight billion conversation hearts sold every year.

History

Sweethearts Conversation Hearts were invented and are still manufactured by an American candy company called NECCO, founded by candy-makers (and inventors) Oliver Chase and his brother Daniel Chase. Daniel specifically is credited with being the inventor of heart shaped conversation candies.

The inspiration for the candy hearts goes back to the time of Abraham Lincoln and a homemade candy called "cockles". Cockles were a shell shaped candy made of basically sugar and flour, a motto was written on a slip of colored paper, rolled up, and baked inside of each cockle.

In 1847, Oliver Chase invented and patented a lozenge cutter to be used for the mass production of candy in his newly built candy factory. This allowed candy lozenges to be cut into different shapes, and eventually the heart shapes. This was the first American patented invention related to candy manufacturing. In 1855, Oliver Chase also invented and patented a machine for pulverizing sugar.

Beginning in the early 1860s, Daniel Chase began his experimenting with putting sayings on candy, at first using hand tools. In 1866, Daniel invented a special "printing press" that was used to print sayings on candy lozenges. The idea for the conversation hearts hadn't been thought up yet, however, the press was used to create special occasion conversation candies for weddings and sports events. For example, on conversation candies prepared for a wedding Daniel had printed, "Married in satin, love will not be lasting" and "Married in white, you have chosen right". Two mottoes that might not be so popular today.

Factory made heart-shaped conversation candies were introduced in 1902 under the Sweethearts brand. In 1933, British candy makers Swizzels Matlow began manufacturing a similar product in Great Britain called Love Hearts.

In a Time Magazine interview, NECCO execs explained how the conversation hearts are made today: "The ingredients are mixed into a dough. A machine stretches and rolls the dough. The saying are printed with red ink with an old-fashioned print plate with letters that move around are used. After the letters get printed, then the dough gets cut into a heart. It takes two to three days for the hearts to dry. They're not baked. The hearts are then placed into a machine called the rocket launcher that jumbles them together so that any one box doesn't have hearts of all one color or expression.

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