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With Sweethearts on hiatus, these candy hearts will help say 'love you'
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With Sweethearts on hiatus, these candy hearts will help say 'love you'

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If its signature product could convey a message about the New England Confectionery Company's inability to produce its Sweethearts conversation hearts for Valentine's Day, it would read: MISS U.

Necco was sold at bankruptcy last year, and its factory shut down shortly thereafter. It wasn't operational to produce its chalky, beloved candy hearts in time for the holiday, and fans will be forced to go without them for the first time in 150 years. Spangler Candy, which purchased Necco, says they will return next year.

While Necco is the original candy-heart-maker, there are plenty of knockoffs. Depending on your devotion to Sweethearts, some of them are even - dare we say it - superior to the original. Here are all the sweet ways you can tell your crush, "be mine."

Brach's conversation hearts

Flavors: Wintergreen, banana, orange, lemon, cherry and grape.

Sayings: "Dream date," "love you," "call me," "smooches," "BFF."

This is what you want if you're looking for a straightforward replacement for Necco. Some people say the Brach's version of the candy has a chalkier texture - but, honestly, the whole point of this candy is that it's chalky, right? So I'm not sure how much of a difference it makes. It has "wintergreen," the minty flavor that is the most underrated of all conversation hearts.


Brach's Very Berry conversation hearts

Flavors: Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and berry punch.

Sayings: "Wink wink," "ILU," "crushin'," "cutie," "you & me."

Get this bag if you're the type of person who picks out the pink hearts from the regular bag. It's hard to distinguish between strawberry, raspberry and berry punch, and to be honest, I am not yet convinced that they aren't just the same flavor in slightly different shades of pink. But if that's what you're into, go forth.


Brach's Tropical Fruit conversation hearts

Flavors: Coconut, mango, banana, pomegranate and pineapple.

Sayings: "Text me," "for you," "laugh," "cool," "one I love."

Heck yes, these are some of the best non-sour conversation hearts I've ever had. For a candy that people often malign as tasteless, all of the flavors in this bag seem more vibrant - especially the coconut.


Brach's Sweet & Sour conversation hearts

Flavors: Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, lemon, green apple and orange.

Sayings: "Nice," "CU soon," "so fine," "be mine," "let's kiss."

When we first tried this bag, we thought each individual heart would be both sweet and sour, in the vein of Sour Patch Kids. Instead, it's a half-and-half bag of regular sweet conversation hearts (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry) and lightly sour ones (lemon, green apple, orange). The sour hearts aren't as tart as the Sweetarts and Sour Patch hearts. They also have a pleasantly softer texture. The green apple hearts are the best of the bunch. Get this bag if you can't decide.


Sweetarts Hearts

Flavors: Red (cherry?), lemon, blue (raspberry?), green (apple or lime?) and grape.

Sayings: "XOXO," "maybe," "love U," "kiss me," "I (heart) you."

They come in the same flavors and have the same acidic taste of regular Sweetarts - and that is not a criticism. You know what you're getting here. My only quibble is that the sayings on the hearts are pretty boring. They should shake it up with some texting slang, or some sassy rejection hearts. These are easier on the teeth than the Brach's, too.


Life Savers Gummies

Flavors: "Wild berries" including strawberry, red raspberry, blackberry, black raspberry, white grape and cherry berry.

Sayings: "Call me," "luv ya," "no way," "get lost," "my girl."

Gummies are pretty different from the rest of these offerings, but we included them because they are heart-shaped and they have messages on them, so they fit the basic qualifications. Also, maybe you don't want to feel like you're breaking your teeth every time you bite down on a charmingly antiquated Valentine's Day treat. It's hard to tell some of the berry flavors apart - why the distinction between red raspberry and black raspberry? - but no one cares. Unfortunately, because the sayings on the candy are part of the mold, rather than printed, they tend to get a little mangled and hard to read. Maybe not the best way to communicate any serious sentiment. But points for including rejection hearts, such as "get lost."


Sour Patch Kids conversation hearts

Flavors: Red, orange, yellow, green and blue. ("These are colors, not flavors," you might be thinking. To which we say: "Exactly.")

Sayings: "Yas," "bruh," "ovr it," "DM me," "stop," "lol ;)" "um hi," "friend zone," "bae," "ew no," "SMH" [shaking my head].

They're slightly more sour and crunchy than the Sweetarts, but they are not really that different. Where Sour Patch distinguishes itself is in the sayings printed on its hearts: They are the most of-the-moment candy company. Other conversation hearts say "call me," but people under the age of 30 don't call one another. They text "bruh" and "bae" and "SMH." "Yas" is so much better than "yes."

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