The Fascinating Backstory Behind Valentine’s Day Candy Hearts.

The history involved a pharmacy and

America’s first candy machine.

Conversation hearts, Necco hearts, candy hearts, Or Sweethearts, people use many different names to describe those tiny heart-shaped chunks of candy sporting short messages that are ubiquitous around Valentine’s Day.

The candy is iconic, and pretty much synonymous with the most romantic day of the year. But when it comes to actually eating real conversation hearts… well, let’s just say it’s a divisive topic.

But what are they even made of? And where did they come from? In honor of Valentine’s Day, we took a look at the history and process behind
conversation hearts.

The history of the hearts

The story of conversation hearts begins in 1847, when a Boston pharmacist named Oliver Chase invented a machine that would make it easier to produce lozenges.

At the time, apothecary lozenges (basically medicine mixed with sugar paste) were in high demand as a popular remedy for sore throats and other ailments. But making them was a labor-intensive process that involved pulverization with a mortar and pestle, kneading dough, rolling it out and cutting it into small discs.

Oliver simplified the process with his lozenge cutter, often considered America’s first candy-making machine.

The pharmacist then shifted his focus from medicinal lozenges to candy and founded Chase and Company, which later became the New England Confectionery Company or Necco. The candy lozenges became what we know today as Necco Wafers. In 1866, Daniel Chase, brother of Oliver, devised a way to press words onto the candy lozenges, using a felt roller pad moistened with vegetable coloring (usually red).

There are a few different theories about the inspiration behind these specially printed lozenges. One unverified legend claims that Union soldiers in the Civil War carried around Necco Wafers, then known as “hub wafers,” and the practice of sending romantic letters to soldiers sparked the idea for conversation hearts.

Others suggest that Daniel was inspired by the growing popularity of Valentine’s Day cards, which Massachusetts resident Esther Howland started selling in the mid-1800s. What seems like a more likely explanation is that Daniel drew his inspiration from cockles, a popular candy shaped like a scallop shell that contained a “motto” printed on thin, rolled-up paper. He decided to devise a way to print the messages directly onto candy.

UR SWEET: What they’re made of

Necco offers classic Sweethearts, as well as sugar-free, chocolate, “color your own” and “dazzled” varieties. The company website describes how the classic candy hearts are made.

Daniel’s “conversation candies” or “motto lozenges” were not heart-shaped until 1902. Around that time, the candy, previously sold as simple discs, also started appearing in fun shapes like baseballs, horseshoes, and watches.

Conversation hearts were a big success, and over the next century, other small candy companies started offering similar products. With the acquisition of Stark Candy Company in 1990, Necco says it became “the leading manufacturer of conversation hearts.”

Today, the company claims to produce about 100,000 pounds of Sweethearts every day from mid-February through January. It produces approximately 8 billion candy hearts each year.

Manufacturers combine sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, flavors, gums, and colors into a mixing machine to create a dough, which then goes into a machine that presses it flat, stamps it with sayings and cut it into hearts. After 30 minutes in a “drying tunnel,” the six different heart flavors are mixed together and packaged.

According to the ingredient list on the box, Sweethearts contain sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, glycerine, artificial and natural flavors, gelatin, vegetable gums (tragacanth, xanthan, and Arabic), citric acid, and artificial colors (red 3, yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, blue 1). So, no, they’re not made of chalk.

 

TEXT ME: The sayings

Today’s sayings are on average much shorter than the original ones. Some of the original sayings are still in rotation including “Be Mine,” “Be Good,” “Be True,” and “Kiss Me.” In the early 1990s, Sweethearts began an initiative to update the sayings each year, retiring some while adding others. The first new phrase, “Fax Me,” gained a lot of attention from Sweetheart fans. Following this notable effort, each year Sweethearts receives hundreds of suggestions from romantics, candy lovers, and school kids. From old tech, “Call Me” to new tech, “Text Me,” Sweethearts phrases have reflected eras throughout history.

While most people love to eat them, Sweethearts have also been used in other ingenious ways over the years: to propose marriage, to teach children reading, to decorate cakes and to use as borders for picture frames. The uses for Sweethearts are seemingly endless!

 

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/history-of-conversation-hearts_n_5a72a8e1e4b06fa61b4d60ef?guccounter=1&guce_

 

Butternut Squash Soup

Source: https://healthylittlepeach.com/2018/01/24/butternut-squash-soup/

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 3 large carrots ((dice in big chunks))
  • 1 medium onion ((quarter the onion, big chunks))
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chicken bone broth
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pumpkin seeds or just plain seeds will work
  • cilantro

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425º. Line a large roasting sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash cut in half lengthwise (removing seeds), carrots, onion, and garlic on a roasting sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add to the top shelf of your oven.
  2. After 20 minutes of roasting, remove the onions and garlic. After 45 minutes, remove the squash and carrots. Make sure it is fork-tender and allow it to cool before scooping out the squash.
  3. Once cool, start scooping out the inside and transfer the squash and carrots to your blender with your onions and garlic. Add 2 cups of compliant chicken stock and 1/2 cup bone broth to the mix (If you don’t have bone broth, just use regular broth). Depending on desired consistency, add more broth for thinner soup and less for a thicker consistency.
  4. Add in your ghee and coconut milk and blend until all ingredients are smooth.
  5. Add more seasoning to taste and top with bacon, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. Drizzle everything with fresh coconut milk to make the
    flavors explode.

Pets of the Month

Gojira: The Boston Terrier
My name is Gojira aka Goji and I live with my human, Kimmy Laposky, at LionsHead Apartments in Omaha, Nebraska. I am a one and a half-year-old Boston Terrier. My Mom says I am the friendliest little pup who loves everyone. I was rescued from a puppy mill auction along with my brothers by the MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue. I enjoy spending my days sunbathing, doing tricks for treats and giving kisses. I also have an Instagram account: @gojikingofbostons.

Tali: The Cat
My name is Tali, and I live at Le Palais Apartments in Houston, Texas with my human, Rachel McCarn. My Mom says that I am a precious princess diva kitty. My favorite things are being brushed and relaxing in the window. I am also an explorer and like to jump up on top of the kitchen cabinets. I don’t care for company that much, so I’ve become a pro at hiding from visitors!

10 Survival Tips For Holiday Travel

Wherever you’re heading, if you’re traveling during the holiday season, you need to realize that everyone else in the world is, too. But don’t let invasive security scanners, terrible drivers and long lines at the airports get you down. We’re giving you tips to survive the holiday travel season without a Frosty the Snowman-size meltdown.

  1. Do your research.
    Plan alternative trips if traffic makes your way home too overwhelming. Is there a scenic drive that might be longer but has less traffic? Break up a long drive by finding a few places to stop that will get the kids more excited than a truck rest stop. When flying, make sure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags.
  2. Stay connected.
    Stock up on the latest travel apps before you leave home. GateGuru gives you approximate times you’ll spend in the security line. Heading out on the road? Find the cheapest gas with GasBuddy.
  3. Pack light.
    Avoid checking bags altogether if you can. You won’t have to wait for your luggage on the conveyor belt, and you won’t have to worry about your mom’s Christmas present getting lost in an Airport. If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications,
    important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage, just in case your checked luggage gets lost.
  4. Pack earplugs.
    Short of doing yoga in the airport, the best way to mentally escape your stressful surroundings is to turn the volume down. The easiest way to do that is with earplugs. Is there a crying baby in the next seat over on the plane? Earplugs. Sister’s music in the car driving you mad? Earplugs. If you really want to check out for a bit, bring an eye mask (as long as you aren’t driving)!
  5. Don’t get hangry.
    When your tummy growls, your mind can’t think straight, and you could unknowingly get in the wrong line, take the wrong turn, or worse, upset an innocent flight attendant. Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane so you won’t have to rely on airline food if you’re sitting on the tarmac for hours.
  6. Ship gifts or give gift cards.
    TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. Ship gifts ahead of time or bring the gift that can’t go wrong: gift cards!
  7. Travel on off-peak days.
    The day before the holidays is always the busiest time to travel and can also cause you the biggest meltdown. A better option is to leave early on the day of the holiday and avoid the traffic the night before. Same goes with flying: If you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and hoards of travelers.
  8. Travel early or late in the day.
    Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. If your flight is canceled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day and, there will be fewer lines at security. When is the best time to hit the road? When everyone else is asleep — early morning or late at night. You can always take a nap when you arrive at your destination or on the ride there (if you aren’t the driver, of course).
  9. Plan for the unexpected.
    Have only a half-hour before connecting to another flight? Traveling to Rochester, N.Y., during snow season? Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections and, for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and of course, a few bandages.
  10. Inhale. Exhale.
    The overly friendly person next to you on the plane, the canceled flights, the luggage that fell off in the middle of the highway? All of it will make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination.

2019 Holiday Gift Guide

This year’s top gifts are all about gadgets, comfort, retro comebacks and products they’ll love and never realize they needed. Check out the hot gift items on everyone’s wishlist in 2019.

1. Polaroid Camera 

A modern twist on a retro camera, Polaroids are making a come back and are all the rage. It features simple operations for instant print pictures, plus automatic functions that pick the best camera settings. It comes in multiple colors, as well as gift packages that include film packs!

2. Smart Phone Portable Theater Projector

For the person who makes you huddle around all the time to show you videos on their phone, turn their smartphone into a portable theater projector! It’s not just for smartphones, you can connect a laptop, USB Drive or video game console as well. Depending on the model, most offer full HD resolution and up to a 100” screen size. What’s better than receiving a gift that allows you to watch your favorite shows and movies anywhere you like?

3. Wireless Mini Mobile Photo Printer

For the one who loves taking photos! With this photo printer, they can skip the hassle of ordering pictures, and instantly print photos at home via wifi or the free mobile app. Its small size makes it portable, perfect for taking it along on adventures to give photos to friends!

4. New Nintendo Mini Game Console

This gift is perfect for the gamer or retro-loving person in your life! Bring back memories with the 2019 Mini Nintendo Game Console that features 620 built-in games! Some of the pre-installed games include Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, PAC-MAN, Dr. Mario, Mega Man, Final Fantasy and dozens more.

5. Bamboo Bath Caddy Tray 

This versatile gift is perfect for someone who would love getting away to enjoy a good book, movie, or glass of wine while taking a relaxing soak. It features a wine holder, cup holder, soap dish, phone slot, and book/tablet space.

6. Monthly Subscription Box

Monthly subscription boxes are a great gift choice because there are so many different kinds of subscriptions to choose from! It can be anything from makeup, clothes, wine and cheese, craft beer, food, books, candy, pet products, and more! Subscriptions can be delivered weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on the brand and what they offer.

Some popular ones include My Coffee and Book Club, Ipsy (makeup), My Craft Beer Club, FabFitFun (women’s beauty, wellness and health), HelloFresh (weekly ingredients and recipes for healthy meals), Vinebox (wine), Barkbox/Kitnipbox (toys, treats and more for dog or cat in your family) and the list goes on.

This is a gift that keeps on giving all year long, that they will be excited to receive every month. Because it is delivered right to their door, there is no wrapping or hassle involved for you! Because of the huge variety of choices, you’re bound to find a box that perfectly fits each person on your list, right down to the family pet.

7. Weighted Blanket

Who doesn’t love getting plush fluffy blankets? But add in the feeling of a weighted blanket and you’ve got the ultimate comfort gift. These blankets are filled with weighted materials that create a calming effect and improve relaxation. They come in a wide variety of sizes and weights (from 5 – 30 lbs) and can be used by any age group. They can help improve sleep and can help with many different things such as stress, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, and more.

8. Bottleloft by Uncommon Goods

Make his bottle of beer float in mid-air! OK, not really. He’ll be magnetized by this set of two strips that help him save some serious space in his fridge (and it looks cool, too!). If you want to get him something he’ll actually want to show off to his buddies, this is the real deal. These super-strong magnetic strips will display three beers, making room for those drunken eats (or more beer). It’s the one product he’ll love and never realize he needed.

 

5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Fall

1. ‘Fall leaf’ colors actually exist all year long

Now, don’t get too excited. While leaves have the potential to be yellow and orange (and sometimes purple or red) all year long, seeing the colors during other seasons is not likely. In spring and summer, the pigment chlorophyll gives leaves their green color. At the end of summer, the decreased daylight and cooler temperatures cause chlorophyll to break down and that exposes other pigments that cause the brilliant yellow,  orange, and red leaves of fall.

2. Fall isn’t caused by the Earth’s distance from the sun.

That’s right. The Earth’s distance from the sun at any given point doesn’t determine whether you’ll be sweating out your white tee or shivering in your snow boots. Fall, like all of the seasons, is caused by the Earth’s tilt in relation to the sun. It gets warmer in each hemisphere when that hemisphere tilts toward the sun and colder when it leans away.

3. Oh, fall leaf tourism brings in BIG MONEY

It’s called “leaf peeping”. When the chlorophyll fades and those captivating colors finally glow through, people travel from near and far to take a closer look
(and lots of pictures). States in New England, a popular destination for leaf peepers, rake in billions in tourism dollars each fall.

4. Fall is only ‘fall’ to Americans, even though the term was coined in Britain

What do you call the picking of ripe sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkins? Harvest. That was the word used until the 1300s to describe the next few months of weather. Because “harvest” also meant the gathering of ripe crops, when the word “autumn” showed up in English writing its popularity soared. Sometime after, poets coined the phrase “the fall of leaves” — shortened to “fall” in the 1600s. The word “autumn” still remained popular throughout England’s period of colonizing the world. The lack of consistent communication between the English and the people in the American colonies led to differences in the language. By the mid-1800s, the word “fall” had firmly rooted itself in America.

5. The flavor pumpkin spice doesn’t actually taste quite like pumpkins

We’re here — the time of year when your favorite snacks hit store shelves (and Starbucks) in pumpkin-spice flavors. We’re talking lattes, cereal, ice cream, butter, and even yogurt.

But what exactly goes into the beloved flavor of fall? Truth is, it’s almost never the orange-fleshed vegetable — pumpkin. Instead, the flavor comes from a mix of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, dry ginger, and cloves, except when food companies take over. Most times, they create a synthetic version using chemicals found naturally in pumpkins and some of the previously listed spices. Those chemicals trick your brain into thinking that whatever concoction you’re consuming is pumpkin.

‘Pumpkin Spice’ Has Been a Thing for 3,500 Years

 

A key ingredient in the flavor was discovered on ancient pottery shards in Indonesia, revealing it has been around for a long, looooong time.

In fact, researchers have discovered that humans have been using nutmeg as food for 2,000 years longer than previously thought. On Pulau Ay, one of the Banda Islands in Indonesia, archaeologists found ancient nutmeg residue on ceramic pottery shards that they estimate to be 3,500 years old.

Every fall, grocery stores line their shelves with pumpkin spice-flavored products that range from traditional pumpkin pies to pumpkin spice candy corn. The flavor is a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves—all spices that humans have enjoyed in their food.

Piecing together the history of nutmeg can help frame how the global spice trade evolved later on. Thousands of years after people on Pulau Ay mixed nutmeg in their pots, this and other spices became extremely valuable commodities that people all over the world used in food and medicine. Asia sold spices to the Middle East and North Africa. From there, they trickled into spice-starved Europe.

By the 1300s, and maybe earlier, traders traveled to the Banda Islands—which were among the so-called “Spice Islands”—because they were the only place nutmeg was known to grow. “At one point in the 1300s, when tariffs were at their highest, a pound of nutmeg in Europe cost seven fattened oxen and was a more valuable commodity than gold,” wrote the late John Munro, an Economics Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto.

“It’s fascinating to see such early use of nutmeg, a spice that changed the world a few thousand years later,” said Peter Lape, an Anthropology Professor at the University of Washington who co-led the recent archaeological dig in Pulau Ay, according to a university press release.

Considering that nearly a half-billion dollars in pumpkin-flavored products were sold in the United States over the past year, according to the rating company Nielsen, it’s clear that the ancient people in Indonesia were onto something.

Pumpkin is a thoroughly American flavor that many people love for both its taste and relation to the fall holidays. But here’s the thing about pumpkin spice – it doesn’t contain any pumpkin. Up until 50 years ago, pumpkin spice was virtually unheard of. That’s when McCormick began selling their blend of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice, which they dubbed ‘Pumpkin Spice’.

The modern-day pumpkin spice craze can largely be attributed to coffee. In the late 1990s, coffee flavored with pumpkin spice became the hot new beverage in cafes. Coffee fans may be familiar with the Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s been 13 years since the seasonal latte was introduced to coffee fanatics around the country. By Forbes estimates, this bestselling beverage has made Starbucks $100 million.

 

 

October Pets of The Month

 

My name is Chandler, and I live at Ridgegate Apartments in Minnetonka, Minnesota. I am a six-year-old basset hound. I love to take walks and make daily visits to the office to say hi to the Leasing Team. I might be scared of almost everything (including large boxes, brooms, fans, and the dishwasher) but I am a big lover. My owner says that I light up everyone’s day that I come across.

My name is Gavin and I live at TurtleCreek Apartments in West Des Moines, Iowa. My owner says that I am a super sweet lady. I am a fat cat who loves her food. I meow as loud as I can whenever I see cat treats. Mom says I am just precious!

Must Do Fall Activities

1. Go to a haunted house
2. Go through a corn maze
3. Go on a hayrack ride
4. Go to a football game
5. Watch Halloween movies
6. Bake something pumpkin-flavored
7. Make homemade apple cider
8. Make a hearty homemade soup in a crockpot
9. Roast marshmallows over a campfire
10. Pick fresh apples
11. Go on a scenic fall hike
12. Eat a caramel apple
13. Celebrate Octoberfest
14. Try a fall seasonal beer
15. Make/try a new fall seasonal cocktail
16. Go to a pumpkin patch
17. Go to a fall festival
18. Go to a vineyard
19. Attend a wine tasting
20. Read a book outside
21. Read a scary story
22. Have a picnic
23. Drink hot chocolate
24. Make your home smell like fall
25. Decorate for Halloween
26. Decorate your home for fall
27. Do a DIY fall decor project
28. Do a DIY Halloween decor project
29. Make your own Halloween costume
30. Carve a Jack O Lantern or Paint a pumpkin
31. Bake pumpkin seeds
32. Bake a pie
33. Go for a walk on a foggy morning
34. Go to the farmers market
35. Try a new kind of fall produce
36. Visit a sunflower farm/pick sunflowers
37. Plant some flower bulbs for spring
38. Buy/plant fall seasonal flowers
39. Host a Friendsgiving
40. Tailgate for a football game
41. Make a fall floral arrangement