- The Plate
Chalk Full of Love: The Evolution of Conversation Hearts
If it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s time for conversation hearts.
Americans collectively buy about eight billion of these chalky little tidbits a year, almost all in the six weeks before February 14. Today they account for about 40 percent of the Valentine’s candy market, second only to (far yummier) chocolates.
Conversation hearts have been delivering their abbreviated and romantic(ish) messages since the turn of the last century, but conversational candy has a far longer and wordier history. According to Tim Richardson, author of Sweets: A History of Candy, candy with appealing and/or seductive messages dates at least to the 1820s when, on New Year’s Day in France, bonbons were often packaged in envelopes decorated with “fables, historical subjects, songs, enigmas, jeux de mots, and various little gallantries”—presumably all more substantive than CUTIE PIE,