Why Your Candy Hearts May Be Conversation-Free This Valentine's Day

The new owner of the Sweethearts brand hopes things are back to normal in 2021.

Valentine's Day has been around for hundreds of years, but you'd be forgiven if you didn't count 2019. Last year's holiday was the first in nearly 120 years without a fresh batch of Sweethearts Conversation Hearts. Yes, Brach's tried to fill in the gap, but the original Sweethearts were created by Necco—also known for its Wafers and other candies—which went out of business in 2018. In good news for old-school candy lovers everywhere, Necco's brands were sold off to varying interests, including Sweethearts, which ended up in the hands of Spangler Candy Company. Unfortunately, Spangler wasn't able to get production up and running this time last year.

But 2020 is a different story—albeit it one with a couple of hiccups. And Sweetheart Conversation Hearts are back.

a bowl of candy hearts
Acme Food Arts/Getty Images

Turns out when Spangler acquired the Sweethearts brand, the Ohio candy producer (best known for Dum Dum lollipops) may have gotten a bit more than it bargained for. According to CNBC, sixty truckloads of equipment had to be broken down and moved to from Necco's old Massachusetts factory. That process alone took a year, and that was before further problems: The existing printer struggled to put phrases like "Love Me" onto the tiny candy hearts, and so Spangler had to invest in a new printer… which also broke down.

So though Sweethearts are on store shelves, it wasn't without some significant hurdles. "Based on consumer response and the technical challenges, we are not going to be able to meet all of the consumer demand for 2020," Spangler spokeswoman Diana Moore Eschhofen told the business site. And of the bags that have shipped, not all of the hearts will have sayings printed on them. "We know that's disappointing, but it's a disappointment for us, too," she added.

If you are looking to score the candy, Spangler says nationwide drugstores like CVS and Walgreens are your best bet. And if you do get your hands on the hearts, here's a fun surprise: The company also says they've brought back Necco's original Sweethearts recipe that was tinkered with over the years—which means the return of classic flavors like banana and wintergreen.

Finally, here's one last blast of positivity: A company rep told me via email that the goal is to have Sweethearts completely up and running—both in terms of distribution and printing—by 2021. "It has been an adventure to get these favorite Valentine candies back in production," Eschhofen wrote. "Even though we knew we wouldn't be able to meet all the consumer demand for 2020, we committed to moving forward to avoid another year without Sweethearts on the store shelves."

She then added, "We encourage fans to get out there early and get their boxes before the holiday rush." That means now, people!

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