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The History of Conversation Hearts

The chalky candy hearts with words on them have been symbolizing valentine’s Day for decades now. But what exactly is the story behind these adorable and edible love letters?

The conversation hearts were originated in 1847 by Oliver Chase, a pharmacist based in Boston, when he attempted to come up with a way to keep up with the trend of lozenges. Oliver came up with a way to shape the lozenge dough into disks and ended up inventing America’s first candy-making machine. Later, he gave up on the pharmacy business and set up his own candy factory by the name New England Confectionery Company (NECCO).

It was actually Oliver’s brother Daniel who came up with the concept of conversation hearts when the trend of valentine cards was very popular. Daniel wanted to make candies with emotional messages written on them. In 1866, he invented a way to print messages on candy using vegetable dye.

People responded very well to the conversation candies and the witty messages written on them. The conversation candies were not available in heart shapes until 1902. The initial candies made by Daniel were bigger in size then those of today and featured longer messages like “Married in White; You Have Chosen Right” and “How Long Shall I Have to Wait? Please Be Considerate.”

As time passed, the conversation hearts became a very common and more of a ritual. People started using them at parties for matchmaking and icebreaking between young men and women. Over the time conversation hearts definitely become smaller in size but the variety of messages has increased. According to NECCO, they manufacture around 100,000 pounds of candy hearts every day throughout the year to be stocked well for Valentine’s Day.

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