After the general ruckus over losing Necco’s Sweethearts Conversation Hearts settled, two main contenders emerged for Valentine’s Day 2019. If you had candy hearts this year, you either had Brach’s Tiny Conversation Hearts or SweeTarts Hearts. Or, maybe you knew someone who mobbed online retailers snapping up the last supplies of the original Be Mine messages from Necco. Of course there are other Valentine’s Day candies, most of which will be discounted in the next few days (the real time to buy Reese’s in bulk) but nothing says love like a Kiss Me candy heart y’all.
Necco was the oldest operating candy company in the United States until July 2018 when the company was sold to Spangler Candy Company. The abrupt sale shocked social media so much that folks bought so many Sweethearts candy bags, they’re currently unavailable on Amazon. Don’t fret, though, all is not lost. Spangler confirmed the candies would be back on shelves next year in 2020. If you thought you couldn’t love Spangler more for resurrecting Necco, surprise! You already do! Spangler makes Dum Dums and Circus Peanuts.
Necco, unlike Spangler, is synonymous with its namesake candy: Necco Wafers. Those chalky delicious sweets are the favorite candy of only children and grandmothers alike, this I can confirm. Like Spangler, you know and love Necco more than you thought. Formerly the New England Confectionery Company, the 1901 business was predated by the invention of the first American candy machine by the Chase brothers in 1847. Necco is linked to the creation of the first sugar wafer candy machine, y’all. It doesn’t get more American than that.
Spangler began making candy in 1908 after a salesman named Ernest Spangler came aboard and suggested it. Rooted in Ohio, the brand soon became Spangler Candy Company, leaving behind its past of baking soda and laundry starch. The best part is that Spangler seems committed to restoring the Necco brands to their glory, announcing a return for the beloved Sky Bar.
Brach’s Candy Hearts vs. SweeTarts Hearts
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Brach's Conversation Hearts are a wonderful treat by the handful straight out of the bag but did you know that they are also fun to bake with? Check out our delicious recipes for all of our sweet Valentine's Day treats at the Brach's Recipe page: https://www.brachs.com/recipes/valentines-day-recipes.html
The first impression. SweeTarts are featured in the top row and Brach’s are in the bottom row. With that stamp job, Brach’s made Tiny Mumble Hearts, not Conversation Hearts.
Mind you this was a random selection from a random machine, but these were the candy hearts with the clearest messages. The SweeTarts’ messages can clearly be read since the sayings are imprinted into the candy, but Brach’s stamping is most similar to Necco. Not that you can read it, anyways.
I’ll give Brach’s credit for trying to spice it up with that half-hearted Yowza on the yellow heart but what good are new sayings if they can’t be read. And there was Love Me heart in the entire competition, so a strike against both for that. Necco never let me down there.
The taste test.
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These Sweetarts have a special place in my 💖. Back in the 90s I loved their sweet tartness so much that I was a member of the "Sweetarts 'N Kids Club" — I even had the official neon blue with pink trim velcro wallet! Anyone else? Was I just a weird kid? . . . . #throwback #kidsclub #90s #sweetarts #candy #vintage #sweets #valentinesday #worksnacks #workperks
Brach’s boasts six flavors: Wintergreen, Banana, Orange, Lemon, Cherry, & Grape. It’s a funky bunch and honestly, I enjoy it. I have the palate of a 7-year-old, though, so pure sugar candy is right up my alley. The wintergreen was interesting and I didn’t hate it, though it was a shock when eaten with a Lemon. I appreciated the Banana as I’m a person who actually likes Banana Hi-Chews, sue me.
SweeTarts have five standard flavors: Cherry, Grape, Blue Punch, Green Apple, & Lemon. I’ve always liked purple SweeTarts so that was no surprise, but I’d never noticed the actual flavor of green before and the Green Apple really popped. It was delightful.
Brach’s had a harder snap, not the type of candy you could bite through immediately but became softer after a few moments in the true conversation heart way. SweeTarts, on the other hand, crumbled in your mouth in that signature SweeTarts way. The beauty of the Necco Sweethearts brand, though, is that the candies are sweet and not tart. The flavors were delicious, but unexpected.
Well, it wasn’t easy, but someone had to rank them. SweeTarts wins this year. That being said, we can’t wait until Sweethearts Conversation Hearts are back next year.