What’s New in Candy Heart Sayings

It’s an old tradition to print little sayings on candy hearts. They make the little lumps of sugar, corn syrup and pastel-colored dyes almost palatable. But spilling out a box of them today I see how much they’ve changed over the years.

It was last year that the New England Confectionery Co., in Revere, Mass., home of NECCO wafers, decided to print all new phrases on the 8 billion candies they turn out annually, a process they began way back in the 1860s.

When they have updated them occasionally over the years to reflect society – FAX ME replaced CALL ME in 1990s – they caused a mild uproar. Then they went for the complete overhaul. So now, yes, that phrase has become TEXT ME.

You would think this would mean a flood of LOL and OMG on the hearts, but it’s not so. At least in the couple of boxes I poured onto my desk in the name of pre-snacking research.

While it’s true that the phrases are limited to two decks of four letters or one five letter single word, (though they do squeeze BOOGIE in there), they mostly spell out their words fully with the exception of a spate of phrases out of a Prince songbook: both U CAN DO IT and CRAZY 4U (to name a Madonna song) as well as U GO GIRL. However, they spell out YOU ROCK and there is a symbol for I (HEART) YOU, though it’s weird to see a heart symbol on a heart shaped candy.

A few candies are little more than challenges: ASK ME, WIN ME; another adds, slyly, DARE ME. Others require a digital response: HIGH FIVE or HOLD HANDS.

The tired old milk campaign is reflected in one, GOT LOVE? The weird-looking GOT CHA seems to be the incorrect answer. Another word looking strange cut in two: AWE SOME.

Old standby phrases seem to have been replaced for replacement’s sake. So instead of BE MINE there is the super-possessive ALL MINE. Perhaps they are referring to the candy itself, such as one that echoes the old Lay’s potato chip campaign: JUST ONE.

Of course candy hearts must strive not to have double entendres, so I was surprised when I was JUMP ME on a pink heart. Turned out it was JUMP 4 ME, a little more acceptable. Numerically speaking there was also 1 ON 1, to name a Hall & Oates song. SWEET LOVE quotes the Anita Baker single. And SO FINE repeats the title of a bad Ryan O’Neal.

There are a couple that do not seem to be direct messages to sweethearts, but only talk about them in the third person, LOVE HER and LOVE HIM. Or they could be direct turndowns: Sorry bud, I’m in love with someone else.

Are all candy hearts about heterosexual romance? One heart said MY BOY, suggesting it could freely be given among bros. But when I saw DON’T TELL, I immediately started scrambling to find DON’T ASK. No luck. Instead: ASK ME and more succinctly, GOOD BYE.

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