History Of Conversation Hearts

in Candy Blog

Conversation Hearts Close Up

What are conversation hearts?

Conversation hearts are a Valentine’s Day candy that is known for stamping iconic love sayings on small, heart-shaped confections. Originally created by NECCO, conversation hearts come in a variety of flavors including apple, cherry, orange, vanilla, and sweet mint.

Conversation hearts are widely known as one of the most popular Valentine’s Day candies on the planet, serving up over 13 million pounds of mini hearts in the six weeks leading into the holiday.

NECCO headquarters vintage image

Who invented conversation hearts?

Conversation hearts were invented by the New England Candy Company (NECCO) in 1902. Originally called Sweethearts, this tasty and chalky treat was stamped with sweet sayings and sold throughout the  Valentine’s Day holiday season.

But before there were Sweethearts there were lozenges courtesy of Oliver Chase—the inventor of the machine that pulverized sugar and cut out the lozenge shape.

With this machine, Oliver Chase and his brother, Daniel, launched the New England Confectionery Company, NECCO, home of the original NECCO Wafer.

This combination of compressed sugar and artificial flavorings yielded a chalky candy that was beloved by children, adults, and even the GIs in WWI and WWII. Soon after the creation of the wafer came other shapes like horseshoes, watches, baseballs, and postcards. 

Conversations Hearts 2lb Bulk Flat Lay

Where did the conversation heart and sayings come from?

Conversation hearts were created after Daniel Chase conceptualized the idea of cutting their candy into hearts and stamping short messages on the bottom of the heart-shaped candy with red vegetable dye.

It started with phrases like, “Married in white, you have chosen rightor “Married in pink, he’ll take to drink.” Later these outdated phrases would be abandoned for shorter, more loving thoughts like “Be Mine”, “Kiss Me”, and the most famous, “Marry Me.”

It’s rumored that a man once used only “Marry Me” conversation hearts to propose to his girlfriend. Can you even imagine how many bags of candy it took to make that?

Nonetheless, conversation hearts quickly catapulted to the top of the Valentine’s Day gift list as people fell in love with the cute sayings stamped across each piece of candy. By the mid-1900s, conversation hearts had become one of the most popular candy products sold during the month of February, establishing it as a Valentine’s Day staple.

As the years progressed conversation hearts continued to add new sayings to their product collaborating with the movies series Twilight, using phrases like “Bite Me” and “Live 4 Ever”. They even opened it up to the public asking anyone to submit their ideas for new sayings.

Speaking of conversation heart sayings, here are the best of the best from last year

Sweethearts Vintage Box

Why is conversation hearts candy so popular?

Here’s the thing about conversation hearts, they weren’t always so popular. They had an amazing 100+ year run that lasted until 2018. During that year, NECCO declared bankruptcy, sold off all of its candy recipes and closed its doors.

That’s where Spangler Candy came into the picture and picked up the recipe for conversation hearts. That same year, Spangler announced they acquired conversation hearts and would resume production of the iconic candy in 2020.

Fast forward to the first months of the global pandemic in 2020 and conversation hearts were back on the market with the original flavors created by NECCO. And boy did they explode off the shelves. 

Conversation hearts speak to the soul.

Let’s be honest, conversation hearts aren’t the best-tasting candy in the world or even the second. But there’s something about them that captures the hearts of consumers of all ages. 

Ask the older generation and you’ll likely hear them refer back to a time as a kid when their middle school crush gave them a pack of conversation hearts on Valentine’s Day. Or maybe their grandmother always kept a few boxes stashed away at her house for a special occasion when a grandkid needed a pick-me-up.

Ask the younger generation and you’ll find that it’s a combination of nostalgia from childhood and expression of themselves today. Who doesn’t want to snack on a few positive affirmations as they go throughout their Valentine’s Day?

If there’s one thing to take away from conversation hearts besides the messages printed on the bottom it would be this: love.

Whether you love candy, love nostalgia, or love people, love with all your heart and you’ll come to find that the world is pretty sweet after all.

And if you’re thinking to yourself, I could use a few conversation hearts this Valentine’s Day, go ahead and grab some right here and we’ll ship them straight to your front door.

I’m just so glad they’re back! I was afraid I’d never find them again. Necco’s were always the best! Just like their wafers-which I send to my siblings.

Cathy Dunsmore

last 5 years my children eat this candy . my cute little baby
are love the candy very much


Thank you for the fascinating history of conversation hearts! Those hearts and Neccos were always my favorite growing up! I love coming to OLD TIME CANDY to shop for childhood favorites.
My latest love from my early days?…
Candy cigarettes !!

Susie Kucuk

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