What your Sweetheart saying says about you

<p>For those of us with significant others, Valentine’s Day can be a stressful holiday. We want to do the right thing, and we want to do it correctly.</p><p>We’ll grasp at any non-plastic, bio-degradable straws to make sure they know we know how important the holiday is. From meaningful cards, fragrant flowers, well-considered chocolates and beautifully wrapped baubles, Valentine’s Day gift choices are fraught with underlying meanings. I wonder if this stressing out over the perfect Valentine’s gift might have started in grade school.</p><p>Remember those little pastel candy hearts with messages that were part of the schoolyard Valentine’s Day candy landscape? Sweethearts, they were called. Remember how you would carefully consider which chalky, crunchy, sugar bomb heart-shaped message should be given to which elementary school classmate?</p><p>Remember the decision of which Sweetheart message would be most appropriate for that “special” boy or girl in your class? Would “Be Mine,” or “U R a Cutie” send the right message? Would you risk the embarrassment of offering an “I Love U” only to have it rejected? And dare you hand someone a “Kiss Me” and take a chance you would have to answer to the school authorities? Profound questions to ponder for an elementary school kid. Profound for any age, I guess.</p><p>Like so much of my youth, I thought Sweethearts would last forever. This hard lesson of the transient nature of life was visited upon me once again when I recently read news stories reporting the company that has made Sweethearts for 147 years, New England Confectionary Company or Necco, went out of business in July 2018.</p><p>As so often happens in the modern corporate world, Necco was bought at auction by an entity called Round Hill Investments who then sold it in September 2018 to Spangler Candy Company. With only five months until Valentine’s Day, Spangler announced it would not be able to produce a large number of Sweethearts for this year, but “We are looking forward to announcing the relaunch of Sweethearts for the 2020 Valentine’s Day season.”</p><p>(I guess that is some consolation. Do you suppose it will be like when a new iPhone comes out and school kids line up on the sidewalk in front of the candy store to be the first to get a candy Sweetheart printed with “We Missed You”?)</p><p>As it happens, Illinois-based Brach’s Candy (now owned by Ferrara Candy Company) has been producing a similar confection, “Conversation Hearts,” for decades. The company decided to ramp up production for Valentine’s Day 2019. So, although original Sweethearts purists might have to struggle through this holiday season, less discerning lovers of candy hearts with messages should be able to survive. That’s good news.</p><p>Although chocolate is the first candy that comes to mind when one thinks of Valentine’s Day, Sweethearts have been the second best-selling Valentine’s Day candy for years.</p><p>Of course, the sayings have changed to reflect the language trends of the times. The company uses 80 sayings which are switched out periodically depending on contemporary slang. “Hep Cat” and “Dig Me,” for example, no longer resonate with modern Sweetheart aficionados while “Text Me” and “Tweet Me” have been recently added. An interesting experiment might be to chart the social history of the United States over the years by the sayings that have appeared on the candies.</p><p>Apparently a limited number of Sweethearts can be found on certain web-sites although you will pay top dollar. But, hey, it’s the Season of Love so hang the cost. When I think of meaningful Valentine’s Day gifts for my significant other, I think Becky might enjoy a few well-chosen Sweethearts— along with the flowers and baubles, of course.</p>