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_

 

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.

 

Gift Guide for the Holidays

These two small kitchen appliances are all the rage right now. With everyone looking for the best and healthiest ways to prepare meals at home, these gadgets make for the perfect holiday gifts.

AirFryer

This popular appliance is making its way into the homes of many, especially those looking for a healthier alternative to oily, fried foods. Airfryers come in many sizes catering to any sized household. According to online reviews, Phillips makes the best performing and easy-to-use airfryer.

The well-known brand sells three different models: The Compact, XL and XXL. These models all have the patented “Turbostar Technology,” meaning hot air circulates 360 degrees around the food as it cooks. This ensures the food is cooked evenly and has a crisp outside with a tender inside. And as the food cooks, any excess fat is simultaneously drained, which is 75% – 90% less fat than typical fried foods. You can also download the “Philips Airfryer app” for recipes, tutorials and tips.

Although the “Turbostar Technology” is used in all the models, the portion size and capabilities are what sets them apart. The basic Compact Airfryer model can easily fit on your countertop, has the ability to cook two portions (1.8 lb) at one time and has easy-to-use controls. The XL Airfryer model is the midsized option that can cook up to four portions (2.65 lb) at one time and features digital touchscreen controls with a preset button to remember your favorite foods. Lastly, the largest XXL Airfryer model is the most powerful model that Phillips offers. It can cook two bags of fries or even a whole chicken in one go, which makes this model ideal for larger families.

Anova Precision Cooker

The other gadget that would make a great gift this holiday season is the Anova Precision Cooker. With this simple device and your phone, you can cook professional level meals. The Anova Precision Cooker uses what is called “Sous-vide” (pronounced ‘sue-veed’) or precision cooking, a technique that uses precise temperature control to achieve perfectly cooked, flavor-filled results.

Here’s how it works. Grab any sized pot and fill it about half way with water. Place the Anova wand into the water and use the clamp to secure it to the side of the pot. Use the controls on the wand or the Anova app on your phone to select the temperature specified in the app or recipe book to achieve your desired doneness. Take a resealable plastic bag and place your choice of ingredients and seasoning inside and seal it. Place the bag in the preheated water and clip the bag to the pot. That’s it! The water will continue to circulate eliminating any hot or cold spots, and in no time at all you will have a perfectly cooked meal! Once the ingredients are cooked, you can use a pan to crisp up the outer layer.

The Anova wand can be used to cook anything from steaks and fried chicken to eggs and potatoes. There are over 1,000 recipes available on the app and online. Anova makes cooking so simple, you’ll never want to use anything else!

Perfect Gifts For Mom on Mother’s Day

Surprise your mother this year with a unique gift that is sure to warm her heart! If you’re looking for the perfect gift that is unlike any other, check out sites like Uncommon Goods. This site provides a wide range of gift options for any occasion that range in prices to meet any budget. Below we have listed a few of our top picks for moms on Mother’s Day.

Is your mom a tea drinker? Well then, she will LOVE this gift. These handmade dissolvable tea drops are made from finely-sourced tea, sugar and spices. With a cup of hot water, your mom can enjoy a nice cup of tea in flavors like citrus ginger, blueberry, acai, rose earl grey, sweet peppermint and matcha green tea. The cute tea drops come in a wooden keepsake box.

Your mom can use this beautifully crafted board for all of her social gatherings with friends and family get togethers. It’s the perfect serving board for delicious snacks and is a great conversation piece. Each board is made by a family owned company in Dorset, VT.

This cute, custom necklace is perfect for all moms and is a fun way to display their affection for and always carry their “sweet peas” with them. Each necklace is handmade by an artist in the United States using Sterling Silver and Malaysian Jade.

This unique vase comes in a large size and a small size. Each “bubble” can hold a single stem or a small bunch of blossoms to make for a lovely centerpiece that your mom is sure to love.

For those moms with a green thumb, this is a perfect and thoughtful gift. This kit comes with everything needed to grow a forest of tiny Redwood and Moss trees. These little trees are ancestors of the giant California Redwoods and make a beautiful accessory to a kitchen window or desk.

Unique Sites For Valentine Gifts

Forget the flowers and chocolate this year! Instead, buy your valentine something unique and unexpected. Check out these cool sites for hand-made creations and other thoughtful gifts. If you can imagine it, they probably have it! Most of what you will find on these sites cannot be found in stores, which guarantees a unique gift for that special person on February 14th.

POPCHARTLAB.COM
For Her: The Compendious Coffee Chart
For Him: The Very Manly Varieties of Beer Stainless Steel Tumbler

ETSY.COM
For Him: Personalized Wooden Watch
For Her: Personalized Metal Keychain

OLIVEANDCOCOA.COM
For Her: French Grapefruit & Bergamot Spa Crate
For Him: Gentlemen’s Deluxe Shaving Set