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Love Hearts are a type of confectionery manufactured by Swizzels Matlow in the United Kingdom. They are hard, tablet-shaped sweets in a variety of fruit flavours featuring a short, love-related message on one side of the sweet. They are an updated version of Victorian-era Conversation Lozenges.
Sensation in mouth
Love Hearts currently come in six flavours, each associated with a colour (listed from weakest to strongest flavour):
- White (a plain, sherbet-like, slightly tart vanilla flavour)
- Yellow (a sherbet-like flavour with a distinct sharp lemon aftertaste)
- Green (a slightly lime flavour with a sherbet-like aftertaste)
- Orange (a sweet flavour with a slight orange aftertaste)
- Purple (an unusual, slightly perfumed berry-like flavour with a strong aftertaste)
- Red (cherry flavour)
The sweets are small and circular, approximately 19 millimetres (0.75 in) in diameter, and 5 millimetres (0.20 in) in height (including the embossed decorations). Both sides are embossed with a decoration, the rear with a large outline of a heart and the front with the message within an outline of a heart. On the front of the sweet the embossing is highlighted with a red colouring.
The main body of the sweet is coloured in one of the 6 colours: white, yellow, orange, green, purple or red. Especially for the darker red and purple colourings this colouring is somewhat blotchy.
There are many different messages which can be found on the front of the sweet, most of which are love-related. The message is written in capitals in a sans serif font of varying size. The font is scaled and sometimes stretched out of proportion to fit the available space.
There are many messages (it is uncommon to find more than 3 repeats in a packet of 20). These include:
- All Yours
- Be Mine
- Call Me
- Cheeky Boy
- Date Me
- Dream On
- Email Me
- Great Guy
- Hot Lips
- Kiss Me
- My Boy
- New Love
- Text Me
- U Rock
- You're Mine
The messages have been updated many times, for example:
- Addition of phrases including modern technology - e.g. "Fax Me", "Email Me" and "Page Me".
- Addition of phrases in "SMS language" typical of SMS messages - e.g. "Luv U 24/7"
- Addition of emoji faces
Most messages are written in simple horizontal, centrally aligned, lines. There are some exceptions to this rule, including the phrase "I Surrender", where the word surrender has been written in an arc around the lower inside edge of the heart outline.
The "Just Say No" message has an unclear layout, appearing to read "Justsay No".
Wayne and Coleen Rooney had personalised sweets made for their wedding in the summer of 2008 which read "Wayne and Coleen". The first special edition had been issued in 1981 to celebrate Princess Diana's wedding.
A competition was held by Swizzels Matlow Ltd for 10 new messages to be put on Love Hearts; the winning entries (announced on 22 July 2008) were "Think Pink", "Joyful Jo", "Granny P", "Me Julie Best Mum", "Juicy Jessie", "I Luv Alan", "Happy Harry", "Heart Baby", "Kin of U Home" and "Mermaid Eloise". These sweets first appeared in packs in September 2008.
Love Hearts are packaged and typically sold in tubular packs of 20 (which are in turn boxed in packs of 50 for wholesale). The packaging is a clear plastic wrap (twisted at both ends) wrapped in a paper label. Alternative package sizes are available under special circumstances, such as the 2006 "silver love heart" competition, where the packet size was temporarily increased. Different sizes have also been released, including giant and small Love Hearts.
The label depicts the phrase "Love Hearts" bordered by two rows of stylised love hearts. It also carries a barcode, an ingredients list and the best before date. The sweets on the label currently carry the messages:
The colours of the sweets on the label do not correspond to the colours found within the packet:
- Label colours: white, yellow, peach (light orange), green and blue
- Actual colours: white, yellow, orange, green, purple and red
The shelf life (indicated by the best before date) is approximately a year and a half.
Production of Love Hearts began in 1954, 26 years after the formation of Swizzels Ltd. The company was initially in factory premises at Star Lane, Canning Town, London, moving later that year to the larger premises at Drivers Avenue, Plaistow, London. During the Blitz in 1940 production relocated to a disused textile mill in New Mills, Derbyshire, where it has stayed to this day.
Production of Love Hearts has changed little since 1933, although has become more mechanised and less labour-intensive. The production is a pressed tablet method, similar to many pharmaceutical products (see tablet for the medicine production process).
- Granulated sugar is ground to a very fine powder.
- The sugar is separated into lines for each flavour of Love Heart.
- Colours, flavourings, and the other ingredients (all fine powders) are added and mixed.
- The mixture is fed into a tablet machine where it is compressed under high pressure into a tablet. This is the stage where the message is imprinted onto the front of the love heart, depending on the mould used for pressing.
- The highlights on the front are "painted".
- The different colours and flavours are randomly mixed, then packaged.
Sugar, Acidity Regulators: Malic Acid, Tartaric Acid; sodium bicarbonate, stearic acid, Modified starch, E470b, Anti-Caking Agent: Magnesium Carbonate; Flavourings, Colours: E100 (turmeric or curcumin), E104 (Quinoline Yellow WS), E110 (Sunset Yellow FCF), E122 (Azorubine), E124 (Ponceau 4R), E129 (Allura Red AC), E132 (Indigo carmine), Elderberry Extract.
- Sweethearts (the US equivalent)
- Lyons, Teena (25 May 2008). "Love Hearts maker Swizzels Matlow keeps clients sweet". The Times. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
- Whittaker, Nicholas (1998). Sweet Talk: The Secret History of Confectionery. London: Orion Books. ISBN 978-0753808566.
- "Rasen boy to have his 'own' sweet". Market Rasen Mail. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
- "ASDA Looks For Sweet Success With New Whatevers". Asda Stores Ltd. 26 April 2006. Archived from the original on 22 November 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
- Haines, Lester (27 April 2006). "Asda launches chavved-up sweets for mingers: A rival to Lovehearts? Whatever". The Register. Retrieved 2 March 2014.