Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

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Best (and Worst) Candy Heart Sayings of All Time

Iconic, goofy and sometimes romantic candy hearts from Necco are the second best selling Valentine’s Day candy, right behind chocolate. 8 billion little Sweethearts are produced each year. Their bright, chalky colors and pithy and sometimes irreverent candy heart sayings have been entertaining people and helping them declare love for 147 years, ever since the brother of the original Necco creator designed a machine that stamped words directly onto the candies with red vegetable dye. The original candies were large and had various shapes. When the company arrived at the small heart shape in 1902, the sayings got smaller to accommodate it.

Necco wafers themselves have been around 166 years and even accompanied two explorers on their expeditions (Admiral Byrd’s to the South Pole and Donald MacMillan’s to the Arctic) in addition to feeding the WWII troops. Necco’s wafers and sweethearts even survived a move to “healthier” flavors three years ago, which was thankfully scrapped.

 

I’ve watched the sayings get updated over the years, as new ones like FAX ME and  E MAIL ME came and went. New sayings in recent years include TEXT ME and TWEET ME (how long will these last?) as well as MY PET and U R HOT, as an addition to classics like SOUL MATE, SWEET PEA, SAY YES, TRUE LOVE and ALL MINE. Perennial favorites from the early years include BE MINE, BE TRUE, MARRY ME and KISS ME. The company adds about 20 sayings, out of 80, each year, so naturally some older ones are not going to make the new group. New sayings are often themed, like these pet-themed ones from 2007.

Some of my favorite new sayings over the past decade include HEART OF GOLD, MELT MY HEART, CLOUD NINE and HONEY BUN. A few that have bitten the dust, mostly because their lingo became dated, include DIG ME, HEP CAT, HOTCHA, SAUCY BOY and OH YOU KID.

However you express it, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photos: Necco, The Fun Times Guide

Bonus Trivia Question: What does Necco stand for?

Answer: New England Confectionary Company

 

Read more:

History of Sweetheart Candies, Smithsonian Magazine

10+ Years of Conversation Hearts, Readers Digest

How Do They Get Those Tiny Words on Sweethearts Candies?, Time Magazine

17 Amazing Retired Sweetheart Candy Sayings, The Atlantic

New Sweetheart Candy Sayings by Year, Infoplease

Mixed Reviews for New NECCO Sweetheart Candy Flavors, Slow Family Online


Vintage Valentines, Part 2

More vintage valentines! (You didn’t think we were going to stop with Part 1, did you?)

Space Age Valentines

Transportation Valentines

Winter Valentines

 

Music Valentines

More Fun Valentines

 

More terrific vintage valentines can be seen at:

Vintage Valentine Museum

Seven Deadly Sinners

TipNut

Here’s how to make your own fun and easy homemade valentines.

Still want more? See my: Vintage Valentines, Part 1

Vintage Valentines, Part 1

Valentine’s Day, and the valentines we send to honor it, have an interesting past. Long before the Roman emperor Gelasius, and then the Catholic church, proclaimed February 14th a holy day named for the martyred St. Valentine (who refused to forsake Christianity while in prison and sent love letters signed “from your Valentine” to the jailer’s daughter), the Romans had their own mid-winter celebrations of love — Lupercalia fertility festivals, during which young Roman males sacrificed goats and frolicked in goatskin loincloths, striking young women with goatskin thongs. (Attractive!)

Early famous senders of valentines include Charles, Duke of Orleans (like St. Valentine, also in prison) and King Henry V. In the early 1700s, valentine “writers”, or booklets of decorative verse, were all the rage. In the 1800s, people favored “Daguerreotype” valentines, based on the new tintype photos. The Victorian era ushered in valentines that were more similar to the ones we know today, helped along by new methods of printing and mass production and  inexpensive “penny post” mailing.

This is a wonderful history of valentines and Valentine’s Day.

This is Charles, Duke of Orleans’ valentine, now in the British Museum.

Colorful, often mass-produced valentines really took off in the 1920s. Their popularity soared as children became increasingly involved in giving and receiving them. Some early valentines depicted household items, animals,  professions and new modes of transportation and many employed fun puns and wordplay. Their heyday occurred during a wide swath of mid-20th century, before valentines largely became the province of licensed characters from TV and movies.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite valentines by theme.

Western Valentines

 

Food and Kitchen Valentines

 

More terrific vintage valentines can be seen at:

Vintage Valentine Museum

Seven Deadly Sinners

TipNut

Here’s how to make your own fun and easy homemade valentines.

Still want more? See my: Vintage Valentines, Part 2

Make a Quick and Easy Valentine Bird Feeder

Sometimes we forget to feed birds and other wildlife in the winter, which can be precisely when they need it the most because it’s less plentiful in the environment. Why not show a little love by making valentine bird feeders? This very easy project will have you backyard bird-watching in no time. Experiment with different kinds of seeds to see which birds each attracts. Or ask for advice at a plant nursery or pet store. Oil sunflower is a particularly nutritious winter seed that a lot of birds like.

You’ll need:

Cardboard
Heart template, optional
2-3 ‘ ribbon or string
½ cup vegetable shortening, peanut or other nut butter, suet or lard (plus, cornmeal or oatmeal, optional)
2 ½ cup mixture of birdseed (chopped nuts, dried fruit, optional)
Small mixing bowl
Plate, shallow dish or pie tin
Scissors
Spoon or butter knife

Cut a heart out of cardboard, using a template or free-hand.

Poke a hole toward the top and run the string through it. (If using a ribbon, you might want to string it after the mixture has dried a little, using a hole to poke through the hole, as needed.

In mixing bowl, combine peanut butter or other spread with meal, if using.

Spread that mixture over the both sides of the heart with the knife or spoon.

Pour the birdseed and feed ingredients onto the plate.

Place the heart into the seeds.

Hang your valentine from a tree branch or window eave that offers some shelter from wind and weather if possible, as well as a view of visiting birds!

Slow Tip: You can make these with pinecones in the fall. Or use a toilet-paper tube anytime, and either string it up or place it right onto a branch.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Host a Valentine Tea Party

Many children adore the ritual and whimsy of both pretend and real tea parties, and this seems at no time truer than at Valentine’s Day, when we’ve made valentines for loved ones while enjoying finger sandwiches and sipping “tea”. Teas can also add ritual and fun to winter holidays, birthdays, May Day or  Mother’s Day or a summer day. Crafts are a nice addition to tea — if not valentines, then perhaps May Day crowns, or fairy or flower crafts. Games work well for tea, too (board or pretend.) Tea parties are a great way to involve multiple families or generations or to make an everyday gathering more special.

Collect teacups, saucers, and plates in advance (the more mismatched the better!) They can often be found inexpensively at secondhand stores, flea markets, and garage sales. Disposable cups can also be found at party stores, or glue small rhinestones to plastic cups with dots of glue. (Place cups on a towel so they don’t roll, glue a few rhinestones on and let dry, then turn the cup a quarter turn and glue more rhinestones on.)

You may want to have guests bring a special teddy bear or doll or invite them to dress up for taking tea in hats and gloves. The table, too, might be set with a favorite or antique tablecloth or doilies.

Tea Sandwiches

Tea sandwiches come in an endless variety to suit many tastes.

You’ll need:

Thinly sliced white bread
Sharp knife or cookie cutters
Sandwich ingredients (see below)

Cut the crusts off the bread and cut each slice into two triangles, or cut into large shapes, such as flowers, using a cookie cutter. (If using a cookie cutter, note that some sandwiches are better assembled before cutting.)

Spread one bread slice with filling and top with the second slice of bread, or serve open-faced.

Sandwich fillings to try:

Peanut butter and jelly
Cream cheese and jelly
Cream cheese and cucumber slices
Peanut or apple butter and honey or Nutella
Tuna, egg, or chicken salad
Cheese and butter
Lunch meat and cheese or mayonnaise

Looking for more ideas?
Serve open-face sandwiches (or minibagels) by spreading them with cream cheese or other spread and decorating with sprinkles. Or Substitute animal or other crackers, or cucumber rounds, for the bread to make especially tiny sandwiches.

Scones and biscuits are also welcome at tea, as are whimsical fairy and leprechaun foods.

 

 

See: How to Make: Fun and Easy Homemade Valentines

Love in Nature and History

Regarding matters of love, I trust many of our animal friends, especially these sweet roseate spoonbills and other birds that mate for life. Then again, the natural world also features its share of preening and downright aggression — witness the hippo, who sprays his future mate with feces. Lovely!

Valentine’s Day has long taken various cues from nature. Long before the Roman emperor Gelasius, and then the Catholic church, proclaimed February 14th a holy day named for the martyred St. Valentine (who refused to forsake Christianity while in prison and sent love letters signed “from your Valentine” to the jailer’s daughter), the Romans celebrated mid-winter with Lupercalia fertility festivals, in which young Roman males sacrificed goats to Lupercal, the wolf deity, before frolicking in goatskin loincloths and striking young women with goatskin thongs. Geoffrey Chaucer and the poets of the Medieval era linked valentine symbolism to birds, and specifically lovebirds, whom they observed beginning their mating rituals in early spring.

Here are a few fun nature valentine links. Happy Day of Love!

Till Death Do Us Part: Birds that Mate for Life, Audubon Magazine

Love in the Wild: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Flickr Set

Bizarre Animal Mating Rituals, Science Discovery

How Seabirds Send Letters to their Mates, National Wildlife Federation

A Holiday for Real Animals, National Wildlife Federation

Valentine’s Day, a Holiday for the Birds, Audubon Magazine

Why is Love Related to the Heart-Shaped Symbol?, Aphrodite, Hub Pages

Hearts in Nature: A Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt, Slow Family Online

How Green is Your Love Life? Sierra Club Quiz

Photos: Roseate Spoonbill Courtship Dance, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL, Michael Rosenbaum; Atlantic Puffins (who court in groups), David Ian Roberts; Swans, Unknown; Week-old black-footed ferret kits born at the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in WY, Kimberly Tamkun/USFWS; Cardinal Courtship, Howard Cheek; Lovebirds, Unknown; Sea Otters Holding Hands (to prevent drift while sleeping), Joe Mess.

Valentine’s Day history is mostly courtesy of the wonderful The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Seasonal Holidays, Anthony Aveni

Hearts in Nature: A Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt

Everyone loves scavenger hunts. It’s great fun to be on the lookout for things. Hunts can turn a simple walk into an adventure or a game. They can cause us to look around in nature a little more closely than we may have.

In many parts of the world, a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt can get you outside during winter. See how many heart-shaped objects you can find and keep track of the number of them as you explore. You may be surprised, once you look very closely, at just how many heart-shaped items there are in nature. I dug up a few around the internet:

New for 2013:

New for 2014:

For more inspiration, visit my Hearts in Nature photo album on Facebook.

Read the inspiration for this scavenger hunt, Active Kids Club’s Outdoor Valentine Link Up.

You might also like Love in Nature and in History.

Photos: Tariqweb, Public Domain, Public Domain, dvortygirl, Angi Unruh, Public Domain, Public Domain, Calum Redhead, Pixdaus, Public Domain, Public Domain, Public Domain, Claude Truong-Ngoc, Public Domain, Public Domain, aussiegirl, Bigstock, Bigstock

Photo Friday: Gather ye Rosebuds

There are those who find Valentine’s Day trite — a Hallmark holiday, at best — and scoff at roses, chocolates, teddy bears, balloons, and other designations of love. Not me! In addition to celebrating love every day I can, I admit to being a complete sucker for Valentines signs and symbols — for sweet doily-bordered hearts, home-made meals, romantic gifts, and bunches of brightly colored flowers that appear in profusion in the dead of winter. I like seeing them all lined up at the market like these, just waiting for someone (even if at the last minute) to decide to scoop some up just because it’s the best and most extravagant way at the moment to proclaim their feelings.

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also like:

How to Make: Fun and Easy Homemade Valentines
Photo Friday: Between Seasons
Photo Friday: San Francisco Storefront

How to Make: Fun and Easy Homemade Valentines

Since Roman times, people have celebrated a mid-February festival — once called Lupercalia and celebrating fertility, the holiday was changed by Pope Gelasius in 496 A.D. into a Christian feast day in honor of the Roman martyr Saint Valentine. Today, 25% of all cards sent in the U.S. per year are valentines.

And why not? In addition to proclaiming love, valentines can be lovely, bright, traditional, and endless in variety. As such, they make a wonderful craft for children, who can easily decorate large paper hearts with simple things found in grocery and craft stores and around your house.

You’ll need:

Construction paper in classic Valentine colors (red, pink, purple) — or not!

At least one good heart-shaped template, made of cardboard, that you can trace around to make valentine hearts. (Sometimes these can be found in craft stores.)

Scissors, regular and/or pinking edged

Glue, traditional and stick

Paper doilies that are slightly larger than the heart-shape

 

To decorate your valentine hearts, choose from:

Smaller doilies, either whole or cut
Commercial valentines, either whole or cut
Stickers (old-fashioned valentine or floral themes, or any of your choosing)
Small pom poms
Ribbon pieces
Small paper cups for candies or baked goods (available at specialty or grocery stores)
Small paper hearts
Feathers
Buttons
Beads
Tissue paper shreds
Crinkle cut paper
Pipe cleaners
Party napkins, whole or cut up
Felt hearts
Foam hearts and other shapes
Fabric scraps
Crepe paper pieces
Glitter
Markers, to write messages
Paint

The list is endless! We collect valentine items from year to year and store them away when not in use. Most of these things are available in craft and similar stores. Younger children, especially, seem to like the really tactile items like pom poms, feathers and candy cups.

It’s easy to host a small or large group to make valentines. Try putting each item in its own small bowl. Or have guests dress up or wear hats for a Valentines Tea that includes mini sandwiches and juice or tea in teacups. (Second-hand stores are a good source of old teacups.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also like:

Host a Valentine Tea Party

Mixed Reviews for New Necco Sweetheart Flavors

Mixed Reviews for New Necco Sweetheart Flavors

I admit I was a little (okay, a lot) worried when I read that one of my favorite childhood candies, Necco wafers and sweethearts, was being reformulated after a whopping 163 years of tradition and success. Necco wafers were good enough to accompany two explorers on their expeditions (Admiral Byrd’s to the South Pole and Donald MacMillan’s to the Arctic) as well as feed the WWII troops, plus they featured the most wonderful iconic bright colors and flavors — Why would the company want to mess with that?

Mostly, as it turns out, to replace artificial ingredients with natural ones, an endeavor it’s hard to argue with. According to the Necco site, the roll contains the same flavors it always did:  Orange, Lemon, Chocolate, Clove, Cinnamon, Wintergreen and Licorice. Artificial ingredients have been replaced with natural flavors and colors from red beets, purple cabbage, turmeric and cocoa powder.

A panel of adult and teen tasters assembled by Slow Family Online tasted the company’s Sweethearts in preparation for Valentine’s Day. The group applauded the inclusion of natural over artificial ingredients and even liked the new, slightly softer, texture of the candies. While some of the new flavors were fine, others didn’t fare as well in the transfer and we bemoaned their loss.

The group found Purple (grape) to retain the most classic Necco flavor. The grape flavor is actually a little more pronounced than it was before. We all continue to like Orange (color and flavor), a favorite, which is definitely more citrus-y than its predecessor. The Green (green apple) has a new flavor, instead of its traditional, vaguely lime one, which I had really liked. Like the Purple, it retains the Necco chalky quality we like. The apple flavor got mixed reviews. I found it somewhat cloying. Light blue (blue raspberry) is brand new, in flavor and color. It’s a bit sugary tasting, but then the tartness of the raspberry comes on. This one could grow on me, despite the additional strange newness of its color. My daughter was particularly disappointed with Yellow (lemon), which she says used to have a more banana flavor. I was particularly let down with Pink (strawberry). Gone is the classic, nostalgic, unclassifiable Necco pink flavor. In its place is the much too bright strawberry.

I’m glad to report that the bright colors definitely remain intact. I’ve watched the sayings get updated over the years, as new ones like FAX ME and E MAIL ME came on. This year brings TWEET ME as an addition to classics like SOUL MATE, SWEET PEA, SAY YES, and ALL MINE. The Necco Sweetheart page tells us that all the previous sayings were scrapped to make way for sayings that were voted on by the public. I’m glad, then, that the voters thought to include LOVE YOU along with U R HOT.

Sweethearts are the top-selling nonchocolate Valentine’s Day candy. 6 billion little Sweethearts are produced each year. They’re so successful that they are now going to be produced for occasions other than Valentine’s Day. You’ll soon see Sweethearts with sayings targeted to the Twilight vampire book series, as well as a patriotic line.

I’m eager to try a Necco wafer roll next. I’m looking forward to Chocolate I remember. They wouldn’t mess with that, would they?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photos: Necco

Bonus Trivia Question: What does Necco stand for?

Answer: New England Confectionary Company

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