For the first time in 153 years, we'll be celebrating Valentine’s Day without SweetHeart's Conversation Hearts. The New England Confectionery Company (you might be more familiar with "Necco") is no longer producing the classic Valentine's Day candy, which means you'll need to find another way to send sweet messages to your loved ones this year.
SweetHearts first began making conversation hearts in 1866. The operation was taken over by Necco in 1901 and since then they've become the most popular Valentine's Day candy in 21 states. Last year, CandyStore.com reported that SweetHearts Conversation Hearts were the most popular Valentine’s Day candy in America. So what happened?
Until 2018, Necco was the oldest continually operating candy company—but in July, the company abruptly closed and announced they needed to sell. Someone either needed to buy all of Necco or purchase the brands individually. In September, Necco was purchased by Round Hill Investments, who then sold the SweetHearts brand to Spangler Candy Company.
Because of the time it takes to create the supply of conversation hearts, Spangler Candy Company didn't have enough time to make the hearts for 2019. It took Necco 11 months to produce eight billion conversation hearts—all of which would be sold in the six weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Since Necco’s factories were closed down in July and Spangler didn’t take over until September, they weren’t able to keep up with demand for 2019. The good news is, Spangler’s CEO has already announced the hearts will be back on shelves in 2020.
CandyStore.com reports that sales of the hearts are down 80 percent from last year. While you may be able to find a few leftover boxes from last year, new hearts won’t be hitting shelves in 2019. If you do find boxes on store shelves—or on Amazon—keep in mind that these treats have likely been sitting in a warehouse since last year. It’s always a good idea to check expiration dates!
While we’re sad to see the hearts go this year, we’re relieved to know they’ll be back in 2020. While we wait, we’ll be munching on Sour Patch Kids’ new conversation hearts instead.