Generations of Americans have come to expect that every February, like clockwork, one brand would be ubiquitous in every candy store. That would be Sweethearts, the sweet, lovable, and honestly somewhat chalky-tasting heart-shaped candies that kids and adults alike have shared every Valentine’s Day since the 1800s. But now, no longer. According to The Washington Post, Sweethearts were not going to be available in 2019.
The New England Confectionery Company (Necco), which has long manufactured the popular candies, recently filed for bankruptcy last year and was sold at auction in May 2018. The lone factory that made Sweethearts closed up shop a few months later. Necco used to spend a full 11 months cranking out Sweethearts, making an astounding 100,000 pounds per day, but that whole massive production process screeched to a halt last year.
“It’s a pretty big hit to our collective history,” said Jason Liebig, a candy historian. “Candy has a lot of emotional connotations—the affection for them is tied to memories of childhood and simpler times. Whether you’re 70 or 17, you just lost a part of your childhood.”
It’s unclear at this time if another candy will emerge to take Sweethearts’ place. A number of candy companies—most notably Brach’s, Sweet Tarts, and Sour Patch Kids—came out with their own heart-shaped variants in an effort to attract Valentine’s Day shoppers. Krispy Kreme sold conversation heart doughnuts as well. But to many purists who value their Valentine’s Day traditions, there’s nothing quite like having the same consistent combination of gelatin, sugar, and corn syrup every year. Nothing holds a candle to the original.
There is a glimmer of good news, though: There’s optimism about a Sweethearts comeback in 2020. As the Detroit Free Press reported, Necco was bought at a bankruptcy auction by Round Hill Investments, who later sold the company to Spangler Candy Co. At Spangler, there are plans to bring Sweethearts back.
“We are looking forward to announcing the relaunch of Sweethearts for the 2020 Valentine’s Day season,” CEO Kirk Vashaw said.