Volume 12, Issue 7 ~ February 12-18, 2004

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Not Just for Kids

100 Ways to Say I Love You
by Martha Blume

What tradition says Valentine’s Day to you? For millions of Americans it’s those little pastel-colored candy hearts with the corny sayings like “Be Mine.”

Those little Sweethearts Conversation Hearts, as candy manufacturer NECCO calls them, have been around a long time. They were there when your parents were kids. Even your grandparents and great-grandparents traded those little candy hearts with their sweethearts on Valentine’s Day.

Very little has changed about those hearts since their beginnings in 1902. Some of the original sayings are still there, including “Be Mine,” “Be Good,” “Be True,” “My Man,” “Kiss Me” and “Sweet Talk.”

Every year Lory Zimbalatti, NECCO marketing manager, gets to pick 10 new sayings for the candy hearts. How does she choose the messages?

“We get lots of suggestions every year, many from kids doing class projects,” she says. “Some are very trendy, like this year’s ‘IM Me’,” she says.

In March and April, she puts all incoming suggestions for the following year on a spreadsheet and looks them over. She and her staff also brainstorm their own ideas. Every year they choose a theme and some new sayings to go with it.

This year the theme is sweet dreams and new beginnings. Sound romantic? Not really. Ms. Zimbalatti explains it was chosen because NECCO moved into a new facility in Revere, Massachusetts, last March. “We’d been dreaming of this for a while,” she laughs.

This year’s new sayings about sweet dreams and new beginnings are: “3 Wishes” “Ever After,” “New You,” “Magic,” “Dream,” “Charm Me,” “Start Now” and “New Love.” Also this year, NECCO is making a run of Sweethearts to celebrate the United States Postal Service “I ™ You” love stamp. Those and the “IM Me” instant-messaging heart round out this year’s 10.

Ms. Zimbalatti says the most frequently requested saying is “Marry Me,” which guys like to tuck into engagement ring boxes. She said a favorite story related to the hearts was a family who found the 1940s’ engagement photo of their grandparents tucked away in the attic with the candy hearts glued all around the frame. “They don’t change,” she laughed. “After all, they’re mostly sugar.”

Some of her favorites are sayings that have been discontinued like “Hep Cat” from the 1950s, the 1960s’ “Groovy” and “Dig Me,” and the 1970s’ smiley face, which had a comeback three years ago as part of an American Girl’s contest.

Fun Facts About Sweethearts Conversation Hearts

  • NECCO manufactures eight billion Sweethearts Conversation Hearts a year.

  • There are over 100 ways to say I Love You on NECCO’s hearts.

  • If you took the number of Sweethearts Conversation Hearts made every year and placed them back to back across the United States, they would stretch from New York to Los Angeles and back again.

  • Got a special message for your sweetheart? You’d better really mean it. NECCO will custom imprint Sweethearts Conversation Hearts, but you have to buy a full production run of 3,500 pounds. That’s 1.6 million individual hearts.

Have a new saying to suggest?
Mail it to King of Hearts, NECCO, 135 American Legion Highway, Revere, MA 02151. Or e-mail it to [email protected]. The saying can be no longer than two lines of four letters on the small hearts and two lines of six letters on the large hearts.

Kids’ Calendar
Thursday, February 12
6 Libraries Celebrate Valentines
Anne Arundel County libraries host special programs in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Activities include stories, fingerplays, games and craft-making session. All programs are free and for kids pre-K and up.

r 6:30-8:30pm @ Broadneck Branch, 1275 Green Holly Dr.: 410-222-1905.

r 3-5pm @ Brooklyn Park, 1 E. 11th Ave.:

r 10am & 11:30am @ Crofton Branch,
1681 Reidel Rd.: 410-222-7915.

r 7pm @ Mountain Road Branch,
4730 Mountain Rd.: 410-222-6699.

r 9:30am & 10:30am @ North County Branch,
1010 Eastway, Glen Burnie: 410-222-6270.

r 2pm @ Severna Park Branch,
45 McKinsey Rd.: 410-222-6290.

Friday, February 13
Valentines Day
A sweet time for Valentine’s stories with Strawberry Shortcake and Apple Dumplin’s Day. And make a Strawberry Shortcake Valentine. 10am @ Barnes & Noble, Harbour Center, Solomon’s Island Rd., Annapolis. free: 410-573-1115.

Tuesday, February 17
Gone Fishing
Read Rainbow Fish and Swimmy and pretend you’re underwater! And make a fishy craft. 10am @ Barnes & Noble, Harbour Center, Solomon’s Island Rd., Annapolis. free: 410-573-1115.

Plan Ahead
2004 Art Contest
Deadline Feb. 23–Can you draw the orchestra’s most excellent adventure? Imagine where they will go, draw a picture of it and submit it to the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. Artwork must be on 8 1/2” x 11” paper. The artists name, age and phone number must appear on the back. Mail or drop off Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Art Contest, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, Md. 21401: 410-269-1132.

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Last updated February 12, 2004 @ 2:21am.