By Rachel McAlister
At the annual conference for Keeping Sweets Sacred (KISS) today, Necco’s candy conversation hearts yelled out in protest against the “I Love Local” DIY movement that promotes DIY Valentines, particularly homemade candy hearts. With nearly 155 years of Valentine’s Day tradition behind them, Necco’s candy conversation hearts are determined to preserve their rights.
Amongst calls for recycled Valentines cards, condom roses, and romantic serenades, the “I Love Local” movement encourages friends and lovers to make their own personalized candy hearts. The movement, which champions originality and authenticity, chastises the legacy of traditional candy hearts — a legacy already in fierce competition with chocolate and roses — for being capitalistic, toxic even. What are traditionally manufactured candy hearts to do? Form a union, they say, to protect their rights, keep traditional Valentine’s Day values alive, and give a voice to those who speak for people too shy, too secretive, too lazy, or just too unoriginal, to do it themselves.
“If lovers and children want to keep the traditions of Valentine’s Day alive, they’re going to have to start paying attention to us, the ones that bring it to life each year,” said a “You’re Cool” heart.
Job security and a more aggressive marketing campaign are just two issues they will address.
“We are guaranteed work for only 1.5 months out of the year,” the candy hearts spokesheart said.
With union protection, candy hearts would be guaranteed three months of paid work and paid inter-holiday time as well as Sugar Dissolution Insurance. They would also be offered job training in literacy and communication. They also ask for a more aggressive advertising campaign that would begin marketing at Thanksgiving the preceding year.
“It’s just not early enough to really get people excited about the holiday,” the spokesheart said about the January start date for most advertising.
The organizer of the “I Love Local” movement said that “commercialism and big business has diluted the holiday’s core. We want to rebalance it, to bring out the true meaning of the holiday by encouraging DIY gifts and candies.”
With blatant disregard for the economic impact the movement will have on companies such as Hallmark, Hershey’s, Dove, and Necco, they seem confident that this is the way to save the holiday.
However, traditional candy hearts protest.
The holiday will become a free-for-all, with no definite rituals or products to look to, they said.
“We need our traditions, to save and honor the words that have been passed down from generation to generation. Why? many people ask. Because that’s how it’s always been, that’s the historical context of the holiday. If we destroy that, the day becomes perverted and unnatural,” said the CEO of Necco.
Simple, concise, cliché: that’s what people with busy lives need. Traditional candy hearts are not only looking out for couples but for those who will spend Valentine’s Day alone. As self-identified egalitarians, they want to continue to offer the semblance of love and affection to the poor souls whose sole companion will be Netflix’s “Recently Added” movie. With a box of candy hearts, they can find the messages they’ve longed to hear, giving themselves one night of fantasy and joy.
“Everyone is entitled to love,” the spokesheart said. “Like our candies, it is sweetest before it dissolves; it keeps you pudgy; it keeps you going back for more, hoping that maybe this time, the words in your ear will hint of wedding cake.”
Valentine’s Day is more than just expressing love to this year’s sweetheart, a promise of fidelity and endless love. No, it’s a matter of keeping alive hard-won tradition, making sure that lovers keep buying candies, cards, candles, high-priced dinners, jewelry, and wine. Comburo ergo sum.