Why Conversation Hearts Might Not Be as Ubiquitous This Valentine’s Day
The largest brand went under last year, but it hopes to return by 2020.
When the Necco candy company went under last year, much of the focus was on the loss of the company’s eponymous Necco Wafers. That attention makes sense: The candy bore the company’s name, and many of Necco’s other brands were more maligned than beloved — like the perennial Halloween disappointer Mary Jane and oft-forgotten Clark Bar (which has since found a new owner). But the Necco candy that may be missed the most was actually its quiet powerhouse: SweetHearts.
Despite being forgotten the other 11 months of the year, conversation hearts are ubiquitous around Valentine’s Day — and Necco’s SweetHearts brand of conversation hearts were the country’s best seller, according to CandyStore.com. This year, due to Necco’s demise, SweetHearts won’t be on shelves (fresh batches, at least), and as a result, conversations hearts, in general, are expected to take a huge sales hit. “With over 19 million pounds sold each year, we estimate that over 80 percent of the conversation hearts purchased are SweetHearts brand,” the online candy retailer writes in its analysis.
In 2018, conversation hearts were reportedly the most popular type of Valentine’s candy by weight, hauling in 10.5 percent of overall volume; finishing second were heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, which had 9.7 percent of the market. But with SweatHearts out of the picture, CandyStore.com estimates that conversation hearts could drop all the way to about just 2 percent of total Valentine’s candy sales by weight. As a result, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will once again be the Valentine’s candy king. “It’s not really possible to lose 80 percent and keep the throne,” the site writes.
However, this story does come with a silver lining. Though reviving the brand in time for 2019’s big Valentine’s Day rush wasn’t possible, Spangler Candy Company — which now controls the SweetHearts brand — claims that the classic conversation hearts should be back for next year. “We are looking forward to announcing the relaunch of Sweethearts for the 2020 Valentine’s Day season,” CEO Kirk Vashaw, was quoted as saying. To borrow a classic SweatHearts phrase: “MARRY ME.”