Try the local hardware store

Published 9:35 am Saturday, February 13, 2010

When I was growing up, my dad and I frequented the Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, Calif. on weekends.

I looked forward to these trips because at the front of the store, right near the check-out counter, were a few shelves stocked with candy. My favorite candy there was Necco Wafers, which came in a roll with eight flavors, I believe. It was one of those candies that was hard to find anywhere else, but I knew they had them there. When my dad went for the rakes or the light fixtures, I went for the Necco Wafers.

This Valentine’s Day, I was reminded of those trips because my girlfriend, for the better part of the last month, has been on a mission to find the Necco conversation hearts.

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Apparently, different brands make different types of conversation hearts and some are more sweet and some are more tart.

But the real conversation hearts, she claims, are made by Necco.

About a week ago, she found her conversation hearts and stocked up on boxes and boxes of them.

NECCO (New England Confectionery Company) dates its start back to the summer of 1847. It is the oldest multi-line candy company in the United States.

My question is, how do they make the conversation hearts anyway?

And how do they get those little messages on them?

Well, according to, the first step is combining sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, flavors, gums and colors into a mixing machine.

The ingredients are then mixed together until they turn into dough, with the dough then being fed into a machine that presses the dough until it is flat. The dough is then cut and stamped, with the sayings applied to the dough, and the machine cutting the dough into hearts.

The hearts then drop onto a moving belt, are dried and then the six different flavors are mixed together and packaged.

I’m not big on sappy movies, but I’m kind of a fan of Valentine’s Day.

In a society filled with doom and gloom, I think there should be a day to let loved ones know how you feel.

Obviously, it’s also good to do kind things all-year long, but sometimes we need a reminder, a day that says, “take someone out to dinner or make them nice meal at home or send a family member a card.”

It’s not that hard, the thoughts go a long way and if you’re really hurting for ideas, you can always visit your local hardware store.