People who enjoy the taste of sweetened chemicals and the texture of stale antacids were up in arms when Spangler, the candy company that bought Sweethearts last year after Necco shut down, announced that it wouldn’t be making the candy this year. Spangler will resume production next year, and there are plenty of ways to get your hands on conversation hearts for Valentine’s Day this year.
Sweethearts have been available since 1866. A country that had just endured a brutal Civil War decided the thing to lift its spirits was pastel-colored, roughly heart-shaped candies stamped with short, schmaltzy messages.
And for more than 150 years, they stuck around. Candy technology has progressed a lot since, but somehow Necco still made 8 billion hearts last year. That’s a lot of “TRUE LOVE” driven by nostalgia.
With that kind of demand, it’s no surprise that copycat candies have been around for years. Brach’s Tiny Conversation Hearts are one alternative, but the chewier texture and lack of individual flavors cited in the reviews might be a dealbreaker to Necco purists.
But there is some good news. Sweethearts have always had a pretty long shelf life. In its heyday Necco spent 11 months out of the year manufacturing conversation hearts, so chances were always pretty good that your candy had been sitting in the box for the better part of a year before you opened it on February 14. We’re betting that an extra year has a negligible effect on how an amalgamation of sugar, corn syrup, corn starch, gums, and assorted flavors and colors tastes.
Plus, a cursory search turns up a three-pound bag of Necco conversation hearts on Amazon for just over 20 bucks. That should be enough to get even the most dedicated Necco diehard through Valentine’s Day 2019 until Spangler starts manufacturing the hearts for Valentine’s Day next year.