The Unexpected Connection Between Conversation Hearts And Cough Drops

Since the adorable, edible tokens of admiration were introduced to humankind, Conversation Hearts have always been good for, well, conversation. Those conversations in recent years have ranged from 2019's tragic revelation that the affectionately-messaged Sweethearts candy was missing from store shelves (via Today) to their less wordy return in 2020. According to CandyStore, last year saw65% of SweetHearts Conversation Hearts with zero words on them — not even a "BE MINE"!

But, things are starting to look up. Conversation Hearts fans should have nothing to fear this year, as Sweethearts, once again, have something to say. According to The Takeout, this Valentine's Day Sweethearts Conversation Hearts will be chattier than ever, with 16 brand-new phrases, including "words of encouragement," like "CRUSH IT" and "HIGH FIVE." While we can't wait to pop some of the new, uplifting sweets into our mouths, we still have one more Conversation Hearts conversation to explore — their surprising past.

A pharmacist created the Conversation Hearts machine

It turns out, the machine that was eventually used to pump out Conversation Hearts was invented for another reason entirely. The HuffPost reports that Oliver Chase, a Boston pharmacist, initially created the machine to make apothecary lozenges. Those lozenges were made from "rolling ropes of sugar-and-gum dough mixed with medicinal ingredients" that needed to be cut into mouth-friendly pieces, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. In 1847, Chase created a solution — a machine that could cut dozens of lozenges (with or without medicine) in one beat. Later, Chase turned his sights on a sweeter endeavor.

According to Sweetheart's brand owner since 2018, Spangler, Chase went on to found the New England Confectionary Company (Necco). Apparently, innovation ran in the family because the Sweethearts brand was born in 1902, when Chase's brother invented a machine that used red vegetable coloring and a felt roller to stamp those iconic sayings on the cute little candies. Spangler also explained, surprisingly, that the first Conversation Hearts weren't used to celebrate February 14, but rather as treats at parties and weddings. This last piece of information only leaves us guessing if giving someone an "I DO" Conversation Heart is legally binding after all.