Conversation Hearts are one of America’s favorite Valentine’s Day candies!
Although it is impossible to credit a specific person with their invention, the company responsible for their popularity is the New England Confectionery Company also known as NECCO.
In 1847, the Peppermint Lozenge cutter was invented by Oliver Chase. Mr. Chase teamed up with his brother, Silas Evan to create the Chase Candy Company.
Thirteen years later, Daniel Chase, the brother of Oliver Chase, came up with a brilliant invention that allowed him to print text on the peppermint lozenges. The first “conversation” candies were not in the shape of hearts but rather shells and text and were inscribed on a foil wrapper and not the candy itself.
In 1900, one year before the Chase Candy Co. merged with three other candy companies to become the New England Confectionery Company, the first Motto Candy was invented although, again, it was not in the shape of a heart. The candy was, however, called Sweet Hearts.
The first imprinted candies were in the shapes of baseballs, horseshoes postcards and watches. The enlarged shapes allowed for longer imprinted sayings. As time passed, the sayings got shorter and, eventually, they were reduced to one to two lines which fit perfectly on a heart shaped candy.
According to New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), “During peak periods of production, up to one hundred thousand pounds of conversation hearts are made each day at NECCO’s headquarter.” and “if you placed the annual production of Sweethearts Conversation Hearts back to back across the United States, they would stretch from New York to Los Angeles and back again!”
New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) is not the only manufacturer of conversation hearts as similar varieties are made by Brach’s and Jelly Belly. According to the National Confectioners Association, “about 8 billion hearts will be produced this year; that’s enough candy to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Arizona and back twenty times!
McKeesport Candy Co. was one of the first companies to offer Conversation Hearts and has sold them in a multitude of shapes and sizes.
Just in case you have been staying up all night wondering...