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Candy Hearts Tell a Story
If you want to understand how a generation talks, look at their candy hearts.
Sweethearts (also known as conversation hearts or candy hearts), date back to the 1800s. Today, they remain among the most popular Valentine’s Day traditions, with billions sold in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
One manufacturer, Brach’s, calls candy hearts “Life’s original DM.”
Despite their longevity and simplicity, Sweethearts have undergone regular revamps over the years. Updated flavors, updated colors and, of course, updated phrases.
Timely and Tasty Updates
The earliest Sweethearts sayings are barely recognizable and hardly romantic today – see “Married in White, you have chosen right.”
But even more recent entries can feel dated surprisingly quickly – see “FAX ME.”
So, candy manufacturers look to update the phrases each year. For years, an exec at New England Confectionery Company (Necco) named Walter Marshall was responsible for adding new sayings to classics like “BE MINE.”
The rights to the candies have since been sold to another company, which has started creating annual themes for new additions. This year is all about pets (PURR FECT) and last year was words of encouragement.
Companies that make the candy hearts get thousands of submissions every year, and even AI is taking a crack at coming up with phrases.
Sweethearts are undoubtedly a nostalgia-fueled item for almost everyone buying them. But like other nostalgic products, their makers have had to regularly update them to ensure they’re top of mind for consumers.
That creates the interesting challenge of updating the offering without losing sight of the brand identity.
That balance is not unique to candy hearts or Valentine’s Day. It’s the positioning challenge facing all organizations.