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Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without NECCO Sweethearts, the sweet candy hearts with the quirky sayings that make it easy to tell your Valentine how you really feel.

NECCO – which originated in Cambridge, Mass. and moved into an 810,000 square-foot factory in Revere in 2003 – manufactures more than eight billion hearts each year, among many other kinds of candy. Believe it or not, the concept behind these popular candies was created when Abraham Lincoln was President! In the 1860s, Daniel Chase, the brother of NECCO’s founding father, Oliver Chase, began printing sayings on small crisp candies made of sugar and flour formed in the shape of a cockle or scallop shell.

The present day Sweethearts date back to 1902. While today’s sayings are on average much shorter, some of the original sayings are still in rotation, including “Be Mine” and “Kiss Me.” Then, in the early 1990s, NECCO began updating the sayings each year, retiring some while adding others. The first new phrase, “Fax Me,” gained a lot of attention from fans. Now, each year NECCO receives hundreds of saying suggestions. From old tech, “Call Me,” to new tech, “Text Me,” Sweethearts are with the times!

The candy itself has a simple formula. Sweethearts, just like NECCO’s popular Wafers, are made of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, gums, coloring and flavoring. After the dough is rolled out, imprinted with sayings and then stamped out in the familiar heart shape, it goes through a 45-minute drying cycle to reach its proper consistency.

Stop by Roche Bros. grocery department for some Sweethearts, and tell your “True Love” to “Be Mine”!