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Conversational candy hails from the Nineteenth Century


The Story behind the Sweetheart Conversation Heart candy
by Diane Larson

This Valentine’s Day boxes and boxes of chalky fruity flavored hearts with wee stamped messages will fill classrooms across the nation. They have been a Valentine’s Day staple for a very long time. Just how long you ask. Well, we have some answers.


It all began in 1847 in Boston with a man named Oliver Chase. Chase worked in the apothecary/confection industry. Oliver Chase was not a candy maker, he was a pharmacist according to However if someone wanted anything that was even close to candy, the apothecary or pharmacist was where you would find what you needed.


The pharmacists knew what Mary Poppins new, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” says that pharmacists had been using sugar to disguise the often bitter tastes of the herbs used in the medicines. A change in career from apothecary to candy maker wasn’t that big of a step for Chase.


According to Chase made a lozenge that was made up of gum Arabic, peppermint and brown sugar by hand. This lozenge became very popular. As the need for the lozenges grew Chase needed to devise a way to increase productivity.


He rigged a machine that would cut the lozenges to keep up with the demand. His machine worked well, and he was able to produce large quantities and to meet the needs of the market. claims that Chase’s machine “marked the founding of the U.S. candy industry, as well as the beginning of commercial candy production.”


Shortly after creating his machine, Chase opened his first factory in Boston, on Melcher Street. His next move was to develop a patented pulverizing sugar machine. Then Chase partnered with his brother Daniel and Silas Edwin. The three founded Chase and Co., which would eventually become New England Confectionery Co., or as we know it today NECCO. 


The lozenge that guided Chase to develop his first machine became the company’s flagship brand, The Necco Wafer, according to


The Necco Wafer is the predecessor of the Sweethearts Conversation Heart candy. Oliver Chase’s brother and partner, Daniel saw a purpose for the wafer candies.  Daniel invented “a machine that was able to press on the candy,” according to Initially the messaged candies were used for weddings. Some of the original sayings were, “Married in pink, he will drink” “Married in white, you chose right,” and “Married in satin, your love will not be lasting,” Wikipedia.


By 1901, these messaged lozenges developed into the heart shaped candy we know today. According to Wikipedia the company now produces these hearts all year round. However, production is ramped up beginning in September. Approximately 100,000 pounds of hearts are made per day. These can actually sell out in as little as six weeks.  

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