The Suitcase Lady


February 12, 2019, 8:33 pm

There’s a candy crisis in America. NECCO (New England Confectionary Company) has gone out of business and all their conversational hearts have been silenced.

Sweethearts, the official name for these sugary, chalky little hearts with sayings on them, were created by NECCO in 1866. The company began in 1847 when Oliver R. Chase invented a machine that cut shapes from wafer candy. Oliver’s brother, Daniel Chase, figured out how to print sayings on the candy. Originally used for weddings, the hearts had verses such as, “Married in white, you have chosen right” or “Married in pink, he will take a drink.”

The conversational hearts associated with Valentine’s Day began in 1901. Americans have had a continuous love affair with them ever since. To stay current, some of the sayings were updated in the 1990s with LOL, EMAIL ME, BE MY ICON and www.Cupid among the new additions.

In 2017, NECCO, the oldest candy company in America, sold 8 billion hearts. But the company as a whole was struggling and was sold at a bankruptcy auction in 2018. The new owners subsequently sold the company to another candy company. To the shock of NECCO’s 230 workers, the new owners, the Spangler Candy Company, abruptly shut down the plant and announced that no Sweethearts would be produced in 2019. Not a sweet thing to do.

Stricken fans of Sweethearts and Necco Wafers began hoarding the remaining supplies as soon as the news of the factory’s closing surfaced. However, the Brach’s Candy Company was gleeful. They also produce conversational hearts, albeit without a company history dating back to the Civil War. Quoted in Food and Wine Magazine, a spokesman for Brach’s boasted, ” …we offer a much broader range of on-trend  flavors, colors and textures…as far as the sayings go, Brach’s Conversational Hearts are laser-printed, delivering much higher accuracy than Necco’s stamped process.”

Fans of NECCO’s hearts aren’t buying this talk at all. I personally feel that the blurriness or off-center nature of some of Sweethearts’ words were part of their charm. Love is never perfect.




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