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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Little Conversation Anyone?

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...


Andi said...

It's a good thing you shared all that information with me Sue...I had been staying up nights and wondering!!!

Wouldn't it be fun to select the messages that got printed on the hearts!!! Just think of the fun things we could say!

*Jilly* said...

You are just full of information:)
Thanks for sharing!

I have already been swarming the Valentine area at the grocery..and have been enjoying Peeps and Conversation Hearts:) Gotta love Valentine's Day!

Pamela said...

You Rule!

Terri said...

Couldn't go to your friend's blog (it's private, evidently) but posted my contribution on my blog!

Terri and Bob said...

Conversation hearts are one of my all time favorite candies. I know you will be surprised by this, but I already knew all of that. :)

Melissa said...

I love those little hearts - no pun intended!

Sugar Bear said...

Fun! I never knew this. I also never knew what NECCO stood for and I live in New England!

Cheryl Wray said...

LOVE those things!!!! Mmmm.....

smilnsigh said...

Awww, such cute information. :-)