My heart’s on fire

Okay, here we go, the onset of Valentine season. For 11 months out of the year, the candy industry works full time to turn out confections. Then we scarf it up (most of it, in any event) in a matter of weeks. Worse than Halloween, Valentine brings out the urge to say it with flowery offerings of sugar.

What’s America’s favorite candy, you ask? Life may be like a box of chocolates, according to Tom Gump, seconded by Forest Hanks. But that heart-shaped cardboard container sweets is no longer the country’s number one seller. Nope, according to CandyStore.com, a site that markets such things, the best-seller for the past two seasons was a confection known in the trade as Conversation Hearts.

Dollarwise, these miniature canvases (“You Rock!” is pretty much the limit for “conversation”) accounted for ten percent of all Valentine sales last year. But this season, look out. Precipitous plunge ahead: the largest manufacturer of Conversation Hearts was the New England Confectionary Company, and they’ve gone belly up. NECCO was also responsible for Necco Wafers, Mary Janes, Clark Bars, Candy Buttons, and Squirrel Nut Zippers. All now g-gone.

Who’s going to step in? Well, there’s M&Ms, with a new flavor this season, White Cheesecake. And Reese’s, presumably. But not candy corn (thank goodness).

We’re old-school here in Washington: chocolate box candies, chocolate roses. Oregon goes for roses first, then M&Ms.

More as we get closer to the due date.