Here’s How Conversation Hearts Became A Valentine’s Day Staple In The 1800s

There are countless ways to say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day, but one tradition endures. Sweet, crunchy conversation hearts come emblazoned with messages such as “be mine” and “u r cute” so you can express exactly how you feel.

It has been a staple of candy counters at Brach’s since the 1950s, adapting to the ever-changing slang phrases and partnering with big-name brands, including Friends’ newest collaboration.

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What Is The Origin Of Conversation Hearts?

According to Katie Duffy, vice president and general manager of seasonal at Ferrara Candy Company, which owns Brach’s, the tradition began decades ago. It became very recognizable as the heart shape we see on Valentine’s Day. The practice became ingrained during highly anticipated classroom exchanges at an early age. Duffy says many brands make conversation hearts today, but Brach’s tops the list. According to Duffy, conversation candies became popular in the U.S. around 1860. The Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase patented a machine for printing text on wafer candies.

Since When Have Conversation Hearts Changed?

Since Chase’s invention, new technologies have made it easier to produce goods. In the future, manufacturers will physically press the candy, and now, lasers will be used. Laser printing ensures much higher accuracy of quality-controlled products. As Duffy explains, “we have a lot of flexibility to be able to update words and phrases that matter to us through lasering technology that allows us to put a lot more creativity into the product.”

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What The Future Holds For Conversation Hearts

Candy’s flavor also plays a role in staying trendy. The company tests out inventive flavors, such as tropical and dessert-flavored hearts. Brach’s classic flavors like cherry, grape, and banana are favorites. Fun flavors like mint and grape are used in the line. After decades of success, tiny heart has embarked on a new venture with the iconic sitcom Friends in its first significant pop culture collaboration. It may have ended in 2004, but it remains popular today thanks to syndication and streaming.