Though everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day differently, there are certain staples we all recognize. The heart-shaped box of assorted mystery chocolates, the bouquet of roses, the giant teddy bear that you don’t have room for in your home, and of course the classic candy hearts. The tiny hearts sporting classic phrases like ‘be mine’ and ‘love you’ have been around for quite some time, but how do they become a sweet heart for your sweetheart? The entire process of how candy hearts are made starts in the 1800s.
Although the process of creating candy hearts has become more advanced over the years, at the heart of the process still lies the Necco wafer. This mechanism dates back to 1847 when English immigrant, Oliver Chase, invented a device that was designed to cut lozenges. After some experimentation, Chase discovered that his device worked just as well as a candy press. This eventually led to the creation of conversation hearts by the company Necco in 1902.
In terms of the process of how candy hearts are made, first sugar is pulverized and placed in a large mixer. Corn syrup, gelatin, and dextrose are then added for color and flavor. After a few minutes of mixing together, the candy is ready to be shaped. Batches weighing more than five hundred pounds are pressed and then stamped with the familiar sentimental phrases. The classic phrases like ‘be mine’ and ‘marry me’ have been the same for years and continue to be put into circulation, but manufacturers will usually add a few new phrases each year to spice things up.
After they’ve been shaped and printed, the candies head to the heaters to be dried. Once they’ve been dried, a few different flavors of hearts are mixed together and prepared for packaging. They are mechanically mixed together, then sent along a conveyor belt where they are broken into segments and packaged into tiny colorful boxes. Thousands of these hearts are produced each year, and the company Necco specifically produces 100,000 pounds of hearts each day.