Be Mine: The Fascinating History of Conversation Hearts
Did you know that conversation hearts—otherwise known as candy hearts or sweethearts—started as medicinal lozenges, invented by a Boston pharmacist?
Back in the 1800’s, lozenges were a popular way for folks to take medicine, but making them by hand was laborious. Bostonian Oliver Chase invented a machine that stamped out lozenges . . . and then soon found a way to print little messages on them. (Of course, candies with messages on them pre-dates conversation hearts—scalloped candy shells in the 1800’s had little printed paper messages.)
Chase quickly pivoted to candy from medicine, after the lozenges proved popular.
Chase’s company later became the New England Confectionery Company . . . which you may know better by its initials NECCO. Chase’s original lozenges morphed into what are known today as NECCO wafers.
The first conversation hearts weren’t actually hearts—they were disks. It wasn’t until the start of the 20th century that the heart shape first appeared (along with other fun shapes like horseshoes).
Of course, the sayings have changed over the years. The larger disk or lozenge style conversation candies could fit longer sayings—for example, ““WHY IS A STYLISH GIRL LIKE YOU A THRIFTY HOUSEKEEPER?”
The shorter “Kiss Me” and “Be Mine” are classics . . . but the companies that make the hearts have dropped some sayings over time (for some reason, “Fax Me” no longer appears).
In 2013, the Atlantic Magazine reprinted a list of the dropped sayings over the years:
- DIG ME
- HOT CHA
- SAUCY BOY
- GIRL POWER
- OH YOU KID
- WHY NOT
- COOL DUDE
- MY, SUCH EYES
- FAX ME
- HEP CAT
- TELL ME HOW
- YOU ARE LATE
- 1-800 CUPID
- [PEACE SYMBOL]
- YEAH RIGHT
- OH BOY
- YOU ROCK
- LET’S READ
Of course some sayings are timeless—”The One I Love” first appeared in 1902 and is still there today!