Why There Were No Valentine's Conversation Hearts In 2019

Valentine's Day is a time when people express their affection for their loved ones, and one of America's favorite ways to do so is with sweet, colorful candy hearts. Sweetheart's conversation hearts were first invented all the way back in 1866 by Daniel Chase, the brother of Necco (New England Confectionery Company) founder Oliver Chase, according to the company's website. Daniel Chase discovered a way to press messages made from food dye into his brother's candy lozenges, and the new candy was a hit. While the hearts, which initially featured longer, more old-fashioned messages, were briefly considered a wedding staple, over time, the messages were shortened and modernized, and they soon became the most popular Valentine's Day candies in the world, per Many Eats.

Their sweet, slightly chalky flavor might be a hit or miss with some people, but the best part of this candy isn't necessarily its taste — it is the delightfully flirty messages that are stamped onto each sugary heart. On a single piece of candy, you can ask your paramour to "KISS ME," or "BE MINE," and so these fun conversation hearts have been a staple of the Valentine's Day holiday for over 100 years. That is, until 2019, when store shelves were mysteriously missing the classic Valentine's Day candy.

The Sweethearts brand was sold at the end of 2018

In the winter of 2019, many romantically-inclined shoppers were surprised to find that these classic candies, which were once staples on the shelves of stores come February, were practically impossible to find anywhere. And their mysterious disappearance wasn't all in their imagination. The iconic Valentines conversation hearts were in extremely short supply. This was because Necco, the inventors and distributors of Valentine's conversation hearts since the 19th century, went out of business in 2018, according to "Today."

As Food Business News reported, Necco's Sweethearts and Necco Wafers brands were purchased by a privately owned candy company, Spangler Candy Co., who produce other famous sweets like Dum Dum lollipops. Unfortunately, manufacturing 8 billion candy hearts for Valentine's Day is no small feat, and the new parent company was simply unable to set up all the necessary equipment and production processes necessary to manufacture the popular hearts in time, per Vox. Therefore, there were no new candy conversation hearts produced for 2019. "There are a lot of manufacturing challenges and unanswered questions at this point, and we want to make sure these brands meet consumer expectations when they re-enter the market," Spangler CEO and chairman Kirk Vashaw said of the heart shortage in a press release, via Food Business News.

Sweethearts conversation hearts were relaunched in 2020

Luckily, this disruption in production was only meant to be a temporary blip. "We look forward to announcing the Sweethearts relaunch for the 2020 Valentine season," Vashaw went on to explain, adding, "Sweethearts and Necco wafers are iconic brands with rich hundred-year-plus histories. These are perfect additions to our portfolio of traditional candies" (via Food Business News).

Spangler Candy did make good on their promise, returning to making the famous sweets for 2020. However, even then, the candy was still in short supply. "Based on consumer response and the technical challenges, we are not going to be able to meet all of the consumer demand for 2020," Vashaw explained to CNBC. Even more unfortunately, not every candy heart produced in 2020 had a romantic saying. Due to issues with the printing-machine equipment, not every candy was able to have a sweet message pressed onto its front before it was released, meaning some Sweethearts were sadly blank when they hit the shelves, according to the Food Network.

Spangler launched new Words of Encouragement Sweethearts in 2022

However, while it may have taken them a little extra time to get their candy heart production up and running, these romantic candies seem to be back and better than ever in 2022. Not only has production restarted, Spangler had also rediscovered the formula for the original Sweethearts recipe. They announced they intended to revive the classic recipe, along with new flavors like wintergreen and banana, per CNBC.

Not only are the candies back on store shelves in time for Valentine's Day with new flavors, they are even adding some new slogans for the new year. While romantic sayings are always nice, the company will also be adding 16 new "Words of Encouragement" phrases to the product, according to Spangler Candy. In addition to the classic love messages, now fans can also purchase hearts with motivational sayings like "WAY 2 GO," "CRUSH IT," and "HIGH FIVE." But fans of the original love-themed hearts needn't worry — these new slogans will not be replacing the old ones, so shoppers can still ask their loved ones for a kiss in the most romantic of ways: via sweets. Fans can once again sweetly express both their love and their encouragement to their friends, family, and loved ones in the shape of a candy heart.