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The History Behind Our Favorite Valentine's Day Treats

Today, it is tradition to gift the ones you love with chocolates, candies, and other sweet treats on Valentine’s Day. While the roots of Valentine’s Day go all the way back to Roman times, candy gift-giving is a much more recent development. Where did it begin for some of the world’s favorite treats? Not only is there creativity behind the designs and names of the candy, but also the confectionery machinery that makes these sweet treats.


Here’s the history behind some of our team’s favorite Valentine’s Day sweets.


Sweethearts Candy Hearts

Many of us can remember sending messages to classmates with Sweethearts Candy ‘Conversation’ Hearts. These were first introduced in 1866 when Daniel Chase developed a machine that could press food dye letters onto the candy lozenges made famous by his brother, New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) founder Oliver Chase. They were originally created to be shared at weddings, with sayings designed for the bride. In the early 1900’s, the candy hearts evolved into the ones we know today. As they became popular among Valentine’s Day gift-givers everywhere, NECCO decided to switch up some of the phrases to reflect the interests of a more modern crowd. Around eight billion candy hearts are made each year, and to this day, Sweethearts are the best-selling Valentine’s Day candy, accounting for more than 40 percent of all Valentine’s Day candy sold each year.



Hershey’s Kisses

Heryshey’s Kisses Chocolates were first manufactured in 1907 by the Hershey Chocolate Company in Derry, Pennsylvania. It is not known exactly how the Kisses got their name. One story has it that the machines that extrude the KISSES Chocolates make a sound like a kiss. Another possibility is that “kiss” was a common confectionery term at the time to refer to a small piece of candy and that Milton Hershey was smart enough to protect his own product’s popularity by registering a trademark for the name “HERSHEY’S KISSES” in 1921. By 1986, they got their pink and red Valentine’s wrappers to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The Kisses brand has added many flavors to the iconic product line to become one of the leading chocolate product brands in the world.



Heart-Shaped Boxes of Chocolates

By the 1840s, the notion of Valentine’s Day as a holiday to celebrate romantic love had taken over most of the English-speaking world. Chocolate manufacturer Richard Cadbury, son of Cadbury founder John Cadbury, took advantage of his country’s sweet obsession with Valentine’s Day. Because the company had very recently perfected its process, leading to a surplus of cocoa, they were able to get experimental and try new treats, like the novelty chocolates they began to sell in commemorative packages. Richard recognized a great marketing opportunity for the new chocolates and started selling them in beautifully decorated boxes that he himself designed. In 1861, he created the first heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. The popularity of the boxes has only grown over the years. Each year, over 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold around the world.



Valentine’s PEZ

PEZ is a compressed peppermint candy that launched in Austria in 1927. The candy was initially available in small drops and sold in tins before the hard-pressed brick shape candy was invented and PEZ dispensers followed in 1948 that hold 12 candy pieces. It wasn’t until 1952 that PEZ made it to the United States. Curtis Allina, the first PEZ president in the U.S. found PEZ difficult to sell with the strong peppermint taste and in an attempt to create a product children would like, he came up with the idea of creating fruit flavors and character-themed dispensers. Pez first introduced its heart-shaped Valentine’s Day themed dispensers in 1996. The first Happy Valentine’s Day PEZ were red hearts or pink hearts on a red stem that say Happy Valentine’s Day in black italic print. Then a neon red heart and stem, and hot pink heart on hot pink stem saying Happy Valentine’s Day in black italic font were released. In 2003, little white hearts were pad printed on the red and the neon red stems. 



AD Process Equipment is proud to offer confectionery equipment that makes delicious sweet treats, helping make your Valentine’s Day memorable. Regardless of if you are going out or staying in to celebrate the holiday, we hope you indulge in your favorite sweet treats!


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