These Old Sayings On Conversation Hearts Really Didn't Age Well (2024)

Step aside, Halloween—Valentine’s Day is one of the best holidays for eating candy. Sure, you might get a wider variety and higher volume of treats in October, but there are more special sweets that you'll only see on Valentine’s Day. There are heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, of course, but we're here to talk about those iconic conversation hearts.

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans spent nearly $26 billion on candy last Valentine’s Day. And reports that conversation hearts were the most popular Valentine’s Day candy in 17 states in 2023. Roughly 13 million pounds of conversation hearts are sold in the six weeks leading up to the holiday. So whether you love them or hate them, these flirtatious hearts are a V-Day staple.

But they’ve had a long, complicated history since hitting the market over 100 years ago. From recipe changes to new acquisitions to nearly being discontinued just a few years ago, it’s been a wild ride for these little hearts.

When Were Conversation Hearts Invented?

These Old Sayings On Conversation Hearts Really Didn't Age Well (1)

The history of conversation hearts dates back to 1847, but their origin story is not what you’d expect. The machine used to make the candies was initially invented to create medicine. Boston-based Pharmacist Oliver Chase developed the lozenge cutter to industrialize the formation of apothecary lozenges.

Chase quickly realized it could also make confections, which is why historians credit the invention as America’s first candy machine. He founded his own candy company, which eventually merged with other brands to form the New England Confectionary Company, also known as Necco. Fun fact: the first candy that Chase’s machine made came to be known as Necco Wafers.

The cheeky phrases came into play in 1866, when the founder’s brother and business partner Daniel Chase designed a letter-stamping system. But the hearts wouldn’t get involved for another 35 years. Instead, the candies were shaped like postcards, horseshoes, and shells over the years.

The significantly larger sweets also include much longer phrases than the ones we know and love. Initial iterations of these candies included phrases like “How long shall I have to wait? Please be considerate” and “Please send a lock of your hair by return mail.”

But around the turn of the 20th century, the candies' shape shifted to a heart. They also became smaller and simpler. And the newly abbreviated romantic phrases aged a lot better than requests for hair. Some of the original conversation heart sayings include Marry Me, Luv U, Be Good, Kiss Me, and Sweet Talk.

How Have Conversation Hearts Changed Over The Years?

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Walter Marshall of Necco

As classic as they may be, conversation hearts still adapt to the times. Necco introduced several different sayings throughout the 20th century, with gems like “fax me” and “page me” to reference new technology. Others infused modern (at the time) slang.

“Excuse My Dust,” “I’ll See You Home,” “23 Skidoo,” and “Go Fly A Kite” dominated the early 1900s before being retired. Mid-century sayings like “My Aching Back,” “Hep Cat,” and “You’re Gay” also didn't age well.

Candy executive Walter Marshall spent nearly five decades editing and curating Necco’s lineup of conversation heart phrases. In a 2000 story in The Harvard Crimson, Marshall revealed that he regularly considered suggestions for phrases, from Necco employees, family members, and fan submissions.

The recipe for the conversation hearts was also changed over time. Original hearts tasted like clove and sassafras before becoming the chalky, vaguely fruity flavors that made the candies famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask). But when Necco changed the formula for their conversation hearts in 2010 to have a more intense flavor and softer texture, the public pushed back.

Fans of the classic formula described the new recipe as “mushy tabs of sadness” and “a mess.” The backlash was so intense that Necco went back to the drawing board and came up with another recipe that was similar to the original.

How Did Conversation Hearts Almost Go Extinct?

These Old Sayings On Conversation Hearts Really Didn't Age Well (5)

Necco’s conversation hearts, also branded as Sweethearts, were the first of their kind, but they weren’t the only one. Candy company Brach’s came out with their own version of the wordy treats in the 1950s. Compared to Necco’s hearts, Brach’s recipe was said to have a softer texture and more palatable flavor.

Over the next 70 years, Brach’s brand power grew and eventually eclipsed that of Necco. A Brach’s representative revealed to Food and Wine that they had been outselling the original hearts for a large part of the 2010s.

The fierce rivalry almost came to an end in 2018, when Necco filed for bankruptcy and shut down their factories. Despite declining sales, Americans mourned the loss of this Valentine’s Day symbol (us included). Necco’s candy brands were sold off to different companies, with their beloved conversation hearts passed on to Spangler in 2019.

The new parent company, which also produces Circus Peanuts and Dum Dum lollipops, saved the conversation hearts—but the candies were still out of commission for a while. No conversation hearts were sold in 2019, and then production issues in 2020 meant that year’s shipment contained entirely blank hearts without text.

What Do Conversation Hearts Say Now?

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For most of the 21st century, conversation heart sayings had an annual theme. In 2023, for example, they contained pet-themed phrases like “big dog,” “purr fect,” and “beary cute.”

Past years included sayings inspired by song titles, sports, and food. But now, in 2024, they’re outdoing themselves with candies inspired by situationships. Spangler describes their new lineup as perfect for “confused singles everywhere,” with sayings that are purposely “as blurry as your relationship.”

These Old Sayings On Conversation Hearts Really Didn't Age Well (2024)


What were the original conversation hearts sayings? ›

And the newly abbreviated romantic phrases aged a lot better than requests for hair. Some of the original conversation heart sayings include Marry Me, Luv U, Be Good, Kiss Me, and Sweet Talk.

What are the sayings on friends conversation hearts? ›

Among the 26 different phrases are "how u doin?," "pivot," "on a break" and "lbstr." The sitcom-themed candies also switch up the usual flavors with a new blend of watermelon, strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, cherry and orange.

What are the sayings on sweetheart candy? ›

Created by the Necco Company in the era of President Johnson, these candies are anything but stale. The most popular phrases are "Kiss Me", "Marry Me" and "Be True." But the company keeps things fresh, adding new phrases each year, along the lines of "Tweet Me", "LOL", and "Bestie."

What did the 1902 candy Heart say? ›

In 1902, the Sweethearts candy brand was created, with original sayings that are still popular today, including "Be Mine" and "Kiss Me." Over the next several decades, Sweethearts continued to grow in popularity.

What are the Brach's tiny conversation hearts sayings? ›

In addition to classic messages like "Be Mine" and "Luv U," the hearts would also have some more modern messages like "Bestie," "Bae," "YAAAS," and "GOAT" (which means Greatest of All Time, for those who don't know).

What are old sayings about the heart? ›

Blaise Pascal: "The heart has reasons, which the reason cannot understand." Zig Ziglar: "Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart." Benjamin Franklin: "The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart."

What is a good quote for hearts? ›

No beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart. If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment. Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours.

How many candy Heart sayings are there? ›

How many different Sweetheart sayings are there? We have about 80 different sayings each year. We try to have about 20 new sayings, and then we keep about 30 to 35 of the older ones like "Be Mine." The rest are a mix of ones from previous years or phrases that are popular enough that we need more of them.

What is the candy store quote? ›

"Life is better when you're surrounded by candy and sprinkles." "Feeling like a kid in a candy store, no limits on my sugar cravings." "Candy: the sweetest way to satisfy my 'treat'-hunger."

What does BAE mean on a candy heart? ›

The sayings on candy hearts are reviewed each year, with new ones added and dated ones removed. Bae is a nickname for a lover that some say stands for “before anyone else” and others say is an abbreviation for “baby.”

What were the original conversation heart sayings? ›

The original candies had messages like, "Who Me, Luv U, Be Good, Kiss Me and Sweet Talk." Fast forward to present day and you can find hearts with sayings like, "Wicked Cool, Txt Me, Tweet, #Love, Wink Wink, Ur Hot, Call Me and even Marry Me." Those sayings not good enough? You can make your own.

What does Lymy mean on conversation hearts? ›

“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. Via Readers Digest.

Why are conversation hearts so good? ›

Quite possibly one of America's most divisive candies, most people can agree that the best thing about conversation hearts — made of corn syrup, sugar, gelatin and food coloring — isn't the taste, but their playful nostalgia.

What were candy hearts originally known as? ›

The heart-shaped conversation candies to be called Sweethearts got their start in 1901. Other styles were formerly produced such as lozenges, postcards, horseshoes, watches, and baseballs.

What does necco stand for? ›

Necco (or NECCO /ˈnɛkoʊ/ NEK-oh) was an American manufacturer of candy created in 1901 as the New England Confectionery Company through the merger of several small confectionery companies located in the Greater Boston area, with ancestral companies dating back to the 1840s.

When was the oldest known Valentine's Day message written? ›

The oldest known Valentine still exists today as a poem written by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting that was written in 1415 is part of the manuscript collection at the British Library in London.

Who sent the first Valentine's Day card? ›

The first Valentine's card that was decorated and poetic is attributed to the imprisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415. He eased the pain of incarceration by writing love verses to his wife. By the 1700s, manufactured cards became the most popular way to declare love.

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