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NECCO Adds New Heart Phrases

‘Love is Timeless and So Are Sweethearts’

By Katie Jeffreys

Features Editor

The New England Confectionary Company has brought their signature Sweetheart candies to school children and adults alike for nearly a century. In the decade since NECCO acquired the Sweetheart candy line, its “King of Hearts” Walter Marshall has brought many new sayings to the printed confections. “For a long time they hadn’t changed, then about ten years ago we thought we’d add some new sayings,” said Marshall

This year’s dozen arrivals follow the theme:“Love is timeless and so are Sweethearts.” The hearts commemorate the new millennium with two phrases: “2000 hugs” and “2000 kisses.” In addition, Marshall said, “because Shakespeare movies were popular this past year, we added ‘Much ado’ and ‘Romeo.’”

He adds that “Swing music is popular with some people so we created ‘Swing time’ and ‘In the mood.’” Other new phrases are “Amore,” “Angel” and “Time out.”

In 1998 American Girl Magazine approached NECCO asking to allow their young readers to suggest new phrases. The most popular suggestions were incorporated into this year’s production, which began March 1st, 1999. According to Marshall, “three of the sayings were the result of these suggestions,” namely “Girl Power,” “Got Love” and a peace symbol. This is the first time that a symbol rather than a phrase will be displayed on the candies. Seventeen magazine will have a similar promotion as well.

The hearts come printed with 100 sayings, in 6 colors. Each color has a flavor: banana (yellow), orange (orange), lemon (green), grape (purple), cherry (pink), and wintergreen (white). “They are packed on a random basis,” said Marshall. The two sizes of hearts allow only brief messages to be printed: two words of four letters on the small hearts and 2 words of 6 letters on the large. Sales of Sweethearts have improved between three and five percent each year, and eight billion of the hearts are produced each year and sold in the month and a half between the new year and Valentine’s day.

NECCO offers more than Sweethearts

NECCO is also known for making Haviland Thin Mints, Mary Janes, and NECCO Wafers. In fact, NECCO wafers and Sweethearts are the same candy cut into different shapes. NECCO recently introduced Clark Bars to its line of products as well.

This year brings many other new changes to the NECCO family. The messages will be printed on chocolate flavored hearts this year, in an effort to join Valentine’s favorite flavor with its favorite shape. In addition, Marshall, whose official title is Vice President of Logistics and Planning, will be retiring in June.

The company also prints hearts for large businesses such as Mercedes-Benz, HBO, and Carnival Cruise Lines. The minimum order for such accounts is 3,500 pounds of candy, or about 1.6 million hearts.

In the past such a large minimum order restricted newlyweds from distributing these romantic treats at their weddings. However, The Wedding Company recently began distributing Sweethearts with matrimonial messages. These phrases include “Just Married,” “I do,” “Mr. and Mrs.,” and “Tie the knot.”

NECCO also operates a shop out of there factory at 245 Massachusetts Avenue. Many varieties of NECCO candies are available at wholesale prices. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.