She reached into the package and pulled out a yellow candy shaped like a heart.
“It’s got something written on it,” she said.
“That’s the message. Some people live their lives based on what’s written on a Sweetheart candy. It’s kind of like a fortune cookie from a Chinese restaurant or those creepy fortune telling machines at the carnival, only you get to eat the words. (Not2Nite)
Long before the concept of something trending online came into being, people followed fads or capricious trends that ‘everyone’ was caught up in for a short while. The word fad has an unknown origin, although it might be from the term fiddle-faddle, but its first known usage was in 1867. As a good little patriot I don’t like to think its invention had anything to do with Canadian Confederation, so I propose another reasoned it was coined: Sweetheart candies, which, in 1860s America, were all the rage.
Originally they were called motto candies or conversation candies and had sayings written on paper rolled inside them. The sayings could be quite long, as in “Married in pink, he will take a drink”. Daniel Chase, who was the brother of the New England Candy Company’s (NECCO) founder, got the bright idea of printing the saying directly onto the candy and they never looked back. The heart-shaped candies were introduced in 1902. They weren’t alone. Other shapes like postcards, baseballs, horseshoes and watches were also made, though they were eventually abandoned.
In the six weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day NECCO sells two billion candy hearts. It takes 11 months of production at 45,000 kilograms of candy a day to meet the demand. Mottos, considerably shorter now that they have to fit on a tiny candy, have come and gone (so long, FAX ME, you’re no BE MINE, which has been around since the beginning) and the general public now suggests most of the sayings.
When Guy offered Molly a candy heart she wasn’t familiar with the concept. It wasn’t until 1954 that a British candy company, Swizzels, came out with a similar product called Love Hearts. The mottoes on Swizzel candies are pretty much the same as those on NECCO candies with a few notable exceptions. In the 1970s they launched Hippy Bits that were like Love Hearts, but with Flower Power messages. They didn’t last long. In recent years Swizzels hasn’t been afraid to branch into specialty candies. In 2003 they put out a special Love Heart to celebrate Prince William’s coming-of-age that was stamped Happy 21 Wills. In 2011 they released a Love Hearts gift box to commemorate his marriage to Catherine Middleton.
It’s fun to imagine that Molly had something to do with the introduction of candy hearts to Britain after the war. Perhaps she and Guy became Love Hearts tycoons. What a great outcome for a Valentine’s Day story.