Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Today in Food: Candy Hearts

February 9th, 2009 · No Comments

Who isn’t a kid again when they get those little candy hearts — also called Sweethearts — with the Valentine messages printed on them?

Necco — New England Confectionary Co. — the same company that produces the candy wafers that always take me back to a childhood (loved the chocolate flavored ones!) — makes more than 8 billion of ’em — that’s 100,000 pounds of the stuff daily, for almost a year — that is sold out in only six weeks!

For most, it’s as much about the messages as the candy. In the early ’90s, the company president decided to update them and switch them out. Text messages were added to the traditional sayings a couple of years back. 

This year, food is on lovers’ minds, so they think; Top Chef, Recipe 4 Love, My Treat, Stir My Heart and other sayings appear in the mix, but Be Mine, Be True, Kiss Me and a few more are from 1866 – when Lincoln was president and the candies were round, not heart-shaped. In 1902, the hearts came out — along with horse shapes ones and watch shapes and even baseballs.

The lowdown:

  • Candy hearts have the same recipe — sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, gums, coloring and flavoring – used for Necco wafers. The “dough” is rolled out, then stamped with the sayings, and cut out into hearts — then dried into the candy that we eat.
  • They come in two sizes (regular minis and a larger version), and six flavors: cherry, banana, grape, lemon, wintergreen and orange. They don’t sell single-flavor packages.
  • Sin not included — they’re only 3 calories each and the ones made for Valentine’s Day are gluten-free.
  • Necco will stamp your custom message on the hearts, but the minimum order is 3500 pounds — 1.5 million candy hearts. You need a lot of little bags and helpers – not to mention a warehouse. And plan ahead: It takes at least 8 weeks to get them.

But you can create your own virtual candy heart to e-mail or save on your computer at this web site.

There’s also a parody web site where you can devise your own not-so-nice messages and send them to friends (or ex’s) or others on your dysfunctional list. Go here .

They appeal to our wicked fun side – and talk about a cheap thrill!

Tags: Today in the World of Food

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