Every Valentine’s Day millions of loud little conversation hearts are exchanged between friends and loved ones. I remember when I was in school and you’d get a paper box with little multi-colored chalky hearts inside. It was fun to build sentences with them or trade others for hearts that fit what you were saying better. The history of these colorful candies goes back before the Civil War!
Conversation hearts started out as throat lozenges, because at the time lozenges were the craze in the medical industry. Oliver Chase, a Boston pharmacist, was trying to break into that industry. However, lozenges were difficult to make and extremely time consuming, so he looked for another way to make them.
He was so determined to find an easier way to make lozenges that he created a machine that rolled the lozenge dough and then cut it into circles. He had no idea that he just created America’s first candy-making machine.
It wasn’t long until he gained success and started the New England Confectionery Company, aka NECCO. He quit the pharmaceutical business and with the help of his new machine produced NECCO wafers.
Oliver’s brother, Daniel Chase wanted in on his brother's enormous success and created his own product using the lozenges. Daniel saw the popularity of the Valentine’s Day card (read here for info on that) and wondered if they could do that with candy.
In 1866, Daniel discovered that he could print on or in the circular candies using vegetable dye. At this point, the candies were still shaped in a circle, not a heart. It wasn’t until 1902 that the candy with witty messages printed in it became heart-shaped.
Today over 100,000 conversation hearts are made each day! That’s a ridiculous amount of candy!
What does your favorite conversation heart say? Do you like conversation hearts? It seems that the people I know either love them or hate them. What’s the funniest conversation heart you’ve ever seen?
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Valentine's Day Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil.
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour.
- 2 tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temp.
- 1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
- 2 tbsp. pure vaniila extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temp.
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 4 eggs, at room temp.
- Optional, food coloring
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. of orange zest
- 4 sticks butter, unsalted at room temp.
- Optional, food coloring
For the cupcake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the cupcake tin with liners.
- Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine milk, vinegar and vanilla in a small bowl.
- Beat the butter, oil and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time; beat until thick, 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium low; beat in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture. Beat just until smooth, then finish mixing with a rubber spatula.
- Fill the liners 2/3 way up with batter.
- Bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes.
For the frosting
- Beat the butter and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium- high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Reduce speed to low and beat in the confectioner's sugar one cup at a time, increasing the speed to medium-high.
- Repeat with the remaining 4 cups, beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and milk.
- Fill plastic piping bag with frosting with the tip of your choice.You can use any tip like this 7pcs Set Stainless Steel Sphere Ball Tips Russian Icing Piping Nozzles Tips Pastry Cake Fondant Cupcake Buttercream DIY Baking Tools. Begin piping on each cupcake! Place your conversation hearts, like these The Original Classic Flavor Necco Conversation Hearts 1 Lb Bag, on each cupcake. Enjoy!