These slogans have been emblazoning candy hearts around the world for over a century now. They're so ubiquitous that they have appeared in countless TV shows and films over the years.
Where It All Began
It may surprise you to learn that these sweet romantic treats began their life as apothecary lozenges. In 1847, Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase decided to cash in on the health craze for lozenges. The revolution that Oliver brought to the industry was to mechanize the process of creating these lozenges. This meant that Oliver was able to produce large quantities at minimal cost. Before long, Oliver began to add sugar and flavorings which was the first step to making the iconic candies we now recognizes as sweethearts...and the beginning of the New England Confectionery Company.
It’s An Evolution
The company already produced sweets with paper messages inside of them, but it was Oliver’s brother, Daniel, who created the big idea! Inspired by the growth of Valentines cards, Daniel decided to put affectionate messages ON the sweets. Pure sugar and genius all in one! Here’s the part that makes our RD hearts tremble… he used vegetable dyes to stamp the messages directly onto the sweets for the first time.
These messages made the sweets popular with young, courting couples. At the turn of the twentieth century the company began to produce these sweets in the shape of miniature hearts.
Part of Pop Culture
These sweets have been a part of popular culture for a long time. In 1908, the heroine of Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables was presented with a candy heart proclaiming “YOU ARE SWEET”. Unfortunately, it did not have the desired effect as she responded by grinding the sweet to dust under the heel of her boot.
In 1975, candy hearts make their way into a Charlie Brown special where Snoopy presented Sally with a candy heart saying “how do I love thee”. The sign that you are truly and firmly a part of American culture is to be featured on an episode of The Simpsons. In 1993, there was an entire episode dedicated to these tiny little sweets however the messages found on the candies in this instance were not so sweet as the messages were left up to Bart to design.
Before We Were Swiping
Sweethearts have had a long history in dating. In the early 1900s they were often used in parlor games at dinner parties. The female guests were given the sweets where as the male guests had to find them. Once the man had found a candy heart they then had to hunt for the lady in the room with a matching message. And thus how the seating plan was arranged! The sweets have stayed up to date with ever changing messages that keep up with the times. You will even find weddings where personalized messages have been printed on the sweets and used as wedding favors.
Despite having a reputation for being someone chalky in taste, these candies have stood the test of time and are sure to remain a feature of many a valentine’s day celebration to come.