Not sure how I missed this on Valentine’s Day, but The Atlantic has a great bit on how the New England Confectionery Company (aka NECCO) makes more than 300 billion Sweetheart candies in a year (How a Sweetheart Is Made: The Epic Industrial Odyssey of the Most Famous Valentine’s Day Snack, Feb 14). Spoiler alert: They produce year round.
Since have to produce 7 million pounds of hearts annually, we have to make hearts all year. We’re making hearts right now for next year. We hold most of the hearts in these supersacks, which are marked and stored in our warehouse.
PRINT THE CUTE MESSAGES. “You can see words written on the yellow sheet of dough (it’s a banana flavor). That’s because we actually print the words before we cut the hearts. We paint a piece of cloth with red food dye and stamp the sheet of dough with a metal print plate with all of the sayings.”
BRIEF ASIDE: MOTHER I’D LIKE TO APOLOGIZE TO. “The misprints can lead to some pretty funny stories. Our Ps sometimes look like Fs, so we can’t say anything like “Pucker Up” for reasons you understand. Last year, we received a letter from a parent with a picture of a heart that was supposed to say “Smile.” But because of the way the print came out — no S, a messy E — it ended up looking more like “MILF.” Her son had no clue what that was about, so he asked his mom. She said, “I don’t know what you people are doing.” Anyway, we do our best to avoid things that have the Ps in them. This is the human element.”