Who invented Conversation Hearts? (Invention Timeline Explained)

Admit it – there was a time in your life when you giggled and blushed upon receiving Conversation Hearts with sweet and endearing messages. We are not here to tease you! Instead, we’re trying to say that you’re not the only one. For decades, Conversation Hearts (also known as Sweethearts) have been a particular part of the way we celebrate Valentine’s Day. These cute little heart candies invaded our romantic hearts. In fact, Sweethearts became the most popular or preferred non-chocolate candy during Valentine’s Day.

Hearts’ Day won’t be complete without these chalky, sweet, and colorful heart candies. After all, you can never go wrong with the combination of sweet candies and endearing messages, right? But, have you ever wondered what the tea behind the creation of these little candies is? Who came up with the brilliant idea of imprinting candies with words of affirmation (as if they were not sweet enough!)? This article will trace the story behind the favorite Valentine’s Day treat – Conversation Hearts.

Who invented the first Conversation Hearts?

Daniel Chase designed the candy machine that pressed witty and sweet notes on candies.

The Conversation Hearts’ key contributors (and evolution)

  • Oliver R. Chase
    The Lozenge Cutter

    In 1847, Oliver Chase opened a candy factory and invented a piece of equipment capable of cutting lozenges from wafer candies. He patented his invention as the first candy machine.

  • Daniel Chase
    Witty Notes

    Oliver’s brother, Daniel Chase, designed a candy machine that acted like a stamp. It was able to “stamp” witty notes in their candies. In 1866, their candies with stamps became popular for weddings since most of the sayings were about love, romance, and wedding jokes.

  • Chase Brothers

    In 1901, Sweethearts were born. These are tiny heart-shaped candies with sweet and short phrases or expressions. They were also called “conversation hearts.” Young kids and teens loved their funny messages and cute pastel colors.

  • Walter Marshall
    Updating the Vocabs

    In the 1990s, the management noticed that some phrases were becoming obsolete, and the youth used new words and phrases. So, Walter Marshall, then the vice president of Necco, decided to remove some of the sayings like “Fax me” and “Email me.” He then added more up-to-date expressions that young Americans could relate to. As a result, they received loads of requests for new sayings every year.

  • Necco
    Change of Flavor

    In 2010, Sweethearts abandoned its old formula and explored new textures and flavors.

  • Spangler Candy Company
    New Owners

    Necco declared bankruptcy in 2018. As a result, Spangler Candy Company bought the rights to own “Sweethearts.” Due to these changes, Sweethearts became unavailable in the market for two years and returned to the market in 2020. Spangler Candy Company opted to reintroduce Sweethearts using their original and classic pastel candy formula. 

When were Conversation Hearts invented?

Daniel Chase invented the machine that could stamp sayings on candies in 1866. The Sweethearts or Conversation Hearts were launched to the public in 1901.

A brief history of Conversation Hearts

Sweethearts or Conversation Hearts are little sugar candies with printed messages like “Call Me,” “Miss You,” “Kiss Me,” or “Let’s Get Busy.” Teens loved them so much that they’re always sold out every Valentine’s Day. So let’s have a trip down memory lane and look at the people behind these witty little candies.

It all started when Oliver Chase invented the first American candy machine in 1847. He used it to cut lozenges from wafer candy. He then started a candy factory after patenting his invention. Then, in 1866, his brother, Daniel Chase, designed equipment to stamp different messages or sayings on candies. Finally, he began printing witty and funny phrases on candies, and they almost instantly became hits for weddings.

In 1901, Necco (the candy manufacturer) launched Sweethearts or Conversation Hearts. Using the machines that the Chase brothers invented, the company produced small and heart-shaped pastel candies with stamped messages. Some of the messages were sweet, some were funny, and some were witty. This is why teens and young adults love them a lot.

After several decades, the market still loves Conversation Hearts. However, some stamped messages like “Fax Me” or “Mail Me” became obsolete. So, in 1990, Walter Marshall, the vice-president of Necco, decided to remove these outdated messages and replace them with newer phrases like “LOL.” Avid fans even sent hundreds of suggestions to Necco every year.

In 2010, Necco made drastic changes in their candy formula. They abandoned the pastel candy style and produced softer candies with vivid colors. They also added new flavors like strawberry, spring fresh, and sour apple. However, not everyone loved these changes.

Necco declared bankruptcy in 2018, and the rights to Conversation Hearts were sold to Spangler Candy Company. Spangler made the decision to relaunch Sweethearts using the original and classic pastel candy formula on February 14, 2020. However, they encountered some issues with the equipment that messed up with the stamped messages in the candies. 

The Conversation Hearts timeline

  1. 1847
    The Candy Factory

    Oliver Chase opened a candy factory in 1847 after inventing the machine to cut lozenges from candies.

  2. 1866
    The Candy Stamp

    Daniel Chase invented the candy stamping machine in 1866. He used this machine to press witty sayings in candies like “Married in pink, he will take a drink.”

  3. 1901
    The Launched of Sweethearts

    In 1901, Necco (the candy company) launched Sweethearts. These are heart-shaped candies with stamped witty phrases. They were also known as conversation hearts.

  4. 1990’s
    In and Out

    After several decades, some of the words imprinted in Sweethearts were already obsolete. So, Walter Marshall decided to remove some of the old sayings and add more saying that younger generations could relate to.

  5. 2010
    A Little Change

    Necco abandoned the classic pastel candy theme of the Sweethearts and tried making them more vivid and softer. They also added new flavors like strawberry, spring fresh, and sour apple.

  6. 2018
    Return of the Classic

    Necco declared bankruptcy in 2018 and sold Sweethearts to Spangler Candy Company. Spangler used the classic pastel formula for the Sweethearts and returned them to the market in 2020.

Where were the first Conversation Hearts invented?

The first Sweethearts or Conversation Hearts were produced in Necco, an American candy manufacturer, in Massachusetts, United States.

 Importance of Conversation Hearts

  • For the Kids

    Conversation Hearts can be creatively used for kids’ activities like sorting them by color or quotes, making sentences, fine motor skills, making patterns, and many more!

  • Yummy Treats

    Conversation Hearts are delicious! They have different flavors like orange, lemon, cherry, and wintergreen. They are the perfect treat for anyone!

  • Warms the Heart 

    Sweethearts are stamped with sweet phrases, endearment, and words of affirmation for your friends and loved ones.

  • Valentine’s Day Gifts

    Conversation Hearts were popular Hearts’ Day gifts next to chocolates and flowers. You can never go wrong with the combination of sweet candies and loving words. 

The Conversation Hearts by the numbers

  • 45,000 Necco used to produce 100,000 pounds or 45,000 kg of Sweethearts or Conversation Hearts every Day.
  • Necco produced 8 billion pieces of Conversation Hearts annually.
  • 3The original Conversation Hearts has three flavors: cherry, banana, and wintergreen. However, more flavors were added as time pass by.
  • 100There are more than a hundred Sweetheart sayings in circulation. Some old messages were removed, but more modern phrases were added.

Five facts about the Conversation Hearts

  • Lucky Charms

    Sweetheart candies served as lucky charms or souvenirs for long-distance lovers. In addition, families and friends of travelers and soldiers often give them Conversation Hearts as keepsakes or trinkets.

  • For Weddings

    The original Conversation Candies were popular wedding favors because of their wedding-day themed sayings like “Married in white, You have chosen right.”

  • Special Requests

    The company sometimes grant special request from avid fans. For instance, Mike Waltz proposed to her girlfriend using a boxful of Conversation Candies with the message “Marry Me.”

  • Busy All Year Round

    Sweetheart candies are in demand during Valentine’s Day, so to make enough candies for the Big Day, the factories start their production in late February and will not end until the second week of January the following year.

  • Enduring Endearments

    Some of the original phrases stuck around like “Be True,” “The One I Love,” and “Be Mine.”

FAQs about Conversation Hearts   

  • Which Conversation Hearts are softer?

    The Barch’s version of Conversation Hearts is thinner and more delicate compared to the other versions.

  • What does “GOAT” mean in one of my Conversation Hearts?

    “GOAT” means Greatest of All Time, was added to Conversation Hearts alongside other modern messages like “Bae,” “YAAAS,” and “Bestie.” 

  • How many calories do Conversation Hearts contain?

    A serving of Conversation Hearts contains 60 calories. 

  • Was the production of Sweethearts or Conversation Hearts discontinued?

    The production of Conversation Hearts stopped in 2018 when NECCO declared bankruptcy. However, the new owners reintroduced the candies in the market in February 2020.

  • How many Sweethearts or Conversation Hearts are there in a regular bag?

    A 16-ounce pack of Conversation Hearts contains about 140 pieces of candies. 

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