CHICAGO — An old favorite candy is back on store shelves just in time for Valentine's Day.
Sweethearts, the conversation heart candy often seen as the leading consumer choice to gift for Valentine’s Day, recently reemerged after missing the 2019 occasion due to an ownership change, from New England Confectionary Co. (NECCO) to Spangler Candy Co.
NECCO closed its doors in 2018, and Round Hill Investments—which bought Twinkie maker Hostess when it was in bankruptcy proceedings—purchased the bankrupt candy maker at auction and then divested NECCO wafers and the Sweethearts brand.
The upheaval that occurred from one parent company to another for the iconic brand means that the 2020 occasion won’t see mass distribution of Sweethearts for another year, according to Spangler spokesperson Diana Moore Eschhofen.
For Valentine's Day, 80% of Americans typically share chocolate and candy with friends, family and loved ones, according to National Confectioners Association (NCA) data.
Click through for a glimpse of five Valentine’s Day-inspired debuts for the 2020 occasion.
1. Welch Foods
Welch’s Valentine’s Day Fruit Snacks from Welch Foods Inc., Concord, Mass., feature custom Valentine’s Day-themed graphics and heart-shaped fruit snack pieces made with real fruit and embossed with emoji faces.
Ideal for Valentine’s Day classroom exchanges, each pouch features a “to/from” signable front panel for gift giving. A 28-count box is available for $4.99, and 32-count box retails for $4.98.
CandyRific, Louisville, Ky., is offering an array of Valentine’s Day gift items for 2020, including Expressions Valentine Candy Fans, tins for adults such as Love Bites (with funny expressions that include “Thanks for Being the Same Kind of Weird”), and Naughty and Nice Spinning Heart Tins. Both Love Bites and Naughty & Nice Spinning Heart Tins feature six witty messages.
Each Spinning Heart Tin offers a blank space where consumers can write their own message with a dry-erase marker that’s included in the package. Each tin contains 1.76 ounces of candy-coated chocolate-flavored candy.
3. Spangler Candy Co.
The long process of transferring equipment to manufacture Sweethearts from NECCO’s shuttered factory in Revere, Mass., to new Spangler facilities in Bryan, Ohio, resulted in reduced distribution for the brand in 2020, said Eschhofen of Spangler.
“Based on consumer response and the technical challenges, we’re not going to be able to meet all consumer demand for 2020,” she said.
The goal is to return to normal production capacity by 2021, she said. The best retail channels in which to locate Sweethearts this Valentine’s Day are drug chains, but some other store formats may also carry them in limited supply.
4. American Licorice Co.
The Sour Punch Straws brand from American Licorice Co., La Porte, Ind., has new Valentine’s Day flavors. Sour Punch Straws are now available in watermelon, lemonade and fruit punch flavor and are packaged in 17-, 7- and 2.5-ounce bags. SRPs range from $1.29 to $10.
5. Mars Inc.
M&M’s from Mars Inc., McLean, Va., offers a wide range of value-added Valentine’s Day confection items, including the Love You Gift Jar, which is filled with M&M's. It can be personalized, and it comes in a red or white gift tube.