“Say it with candy…”
Since the beginning of time, humans have delighted in developing exciting ways to communicate. It began with gestures and grunts. Later, using one’s voice to speak a language was popular. Then came the written word. Folks invented technologies that helped our communications travel faster and farther than ever. Telegrams! Telephone calls! Emails! Texts! Video chats! Today, you can tell anyone almost anything instantly.
But, amidst all of this innovation, one primitive message delivery device continues to surface for just a few weeks each year…the conversation heart.
Conversation hearts, for anyone who’s awfully far out of the loop, are chalky candy hearts stamped with messages ranging from fervent devotion to boredom and disdain. So, you know, the whole spectrum of romanic love. Sweethearts were invented by the New England Confectionary Company in 1902, as a related, but distinct follow-up to the already popular Necco wafer. Original messages included: “WHO ME?” and “LOVE U” and allowed crushes of all ages to communicate with sugar. Finally.
As years passed, the language used to express love changed, and so too, did the the phrases printed on Sweethearts. Mixed in with classics like “BE MINE” were radical gems like “AS IF” and “AWESOME.” The most important for my formative years was 90s favorite “FAX ME.” I spent a lot of time dreaming of the eventual romantic interest who would fax me out on a date. (This technological rendezvous never actually occurred, and I’m still sorta mad at Necco for getting my hopes up in the first place.)
All faxes aside, the idea of updating phrases was a smart one, and, like every good reboot, it allowed each new generation to enjoy a thing that they should have considered completely uncool.
We could speculate on the inclination to share our feelings with a kinda unpleasant candy rather than, say, a well-written poem or a heartfelt ballad, but let’s agree that the humble conversation heart hits the sweet spot (ha!) between over-zealous sentimentality and too-cool indifference. Which, as we all know, is the place where true love grows.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.