One thing Sweethearts lovers can count on each year is the candy’s simple formula. Since the hearts inception, the recipe has remained basically unchanged. NECCO® Sweethearts page

For decades one of my very favorite things has been the chalky confection known as the conversation heart. NECCO makes the good ones; I have no interest in the Brach version.

Until this year. I went to the local drugstore, and the packaging was utterly wrong – all opaque, no view of the candy. And it smelled wrong. Not, like, up close, but from a distance. Like Sweethearts Tarts. I looked for citric acid in the ingredient list, and no dice. I bought a small box for experimental purposes. Gross. Not just the wrong taste, but bumped flavors for the different colors, like someone overdoing the saturation on a photograph and ending up with colors that are just plain odd.

They issued an egg style of the candy for Easter a couple years ago, and they were absolutely foul. These are not as foul as those were, but they are NOT the traditional NECCO Sweethearts. And I don’t have the heart to try Brach’s this year and see if those are an acceptable port in this storm.

Valentine’s Day is cancelled.

Update, Feb 2014: My local grocery sold these during Valentine season as bulk candy. I also found an almost identical formula in individual boxes branded BRACH, but the BRACH-branded bags were different. It makes me crazy these are still manufactured but so arbitrarily marketed. I can’t be the only person who bonded so hard to these in childhood!

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