Messages of Love from Valentine's Day Candy
As Cool as Jello Salad & Polyester
Conversation candy hearts. They're about as cool as those maroon polyester bell bottoms you wore in elementary school. About as cool as sloppy joes, vacation bible school and jello salad made with 7-Up and cottage cheese.
About as cool as the pale blue cat-eye glasses with rhinestones your mother swore made you look "pretty," and that used El Camino you drove in high school.
In other words, there so un-cool they're cool. And if you're over 50 like I am, those little pastel hearts can really take you back.
A Big Bag of Nostalgia
I bought a bag of candy hearts at Target the other day— an over-sized version at least twice as large as the originals.
I'm not sure about the point of that. Why mess with a good thing? Maybe it's part of the American "super-sizing" trend. Or maybe the manufacturers know most of their customers need bifocals these days.
I couldn't find the kind we gave each other when I was a kid— the small heart-shaped candies in pink cardboard boxes with the To: ___________ and From: ___________ on the front. But I know they still make them. I bought some in CVS last year. It was right after the Presidential election.
I ate the whole box. I was a little depressed.
Still the Same
This year when I opened the bag of hearts, I was transported to a simpler time— not simpler as in less complicated, but simpler in that I was too young back then to know what the hell was going on.
It felt good to go back.
Are conversation candy hearts part of your Valentine's Day?
Despite the packaging and the size difference, the hearts smelled and felt the same as the ones we exchanged as children: sweet and powdery.
They were also as awkward and uncool as ever.
What the Fleek?
Part of that cool un-coolness of the candy conversation heart comes from imprecision.
Most are chipped, some are broken, and the messages? The majority of them are stamped off center, smudged or absent altogether.
The actual content ranges from traditional declarations (My Love, I Love You, True Love, Let's Kiss, Hold Hands) to romantic imperatives (Say Yes, Marry Me, Kiss Me, Hug Me).
Some are awkwardly playful (Sweet Stuff, Cutie Pie); others like "Crazy 4 U" and "BFF" and "Melt My ♥" are influenced by old-school text messaging.
The "hip" ones, however, are the most awful best. My favorites? "Wicked Cool" and "On Fleek." Makes you cringe a little, doesn't it?
I wasn't sure about the actual definition of "fleek," so I looked it up in the urban dictionary. Even now I'm unsure what it means, but its very existence seems to make a number of people want to use another f-word.
Blast from the Past
I don't know if children still exchange conversation heart candy and Valentine's Day cards in school.
I hope they do.
I hope they make a day of it like we did— spend the morning making mailboxes out of cardboard and decorating them with construction paper hearts; pass the afternoon addressing envelopes and delivering messages; end the day with a mad rush to gather up all that mail before the buses arrive and the final bell rings.
It didn't matter how messy your mailbox was or if your Valentine's were homemade or store-bought. The only rule was that you sent everyone a card. You sent a card to the boy who called you names and the boy you had a secret crush on. You sent cards to the unpopular kids and the popular kids alike, and to the kids you'd never have the nerve to speak to in person.
And they sent cards to you— to the skinny, shy girl with the fuzzy hair and the polyester maroon bell bottoms.
Message for You
All the candy conversation hearts I got in elementary school are long gone now, of course, but I still have some of the other Valentine's messages— construction paper hearts with creases down the middle and those goofy postcard-like Valentine's we bought by the box full.
Because of those days, I love Valentine's Day, and I still send out Valentine's cards. I even still like those geeky, too-sweet, awkward, powdery conversation hearts. I especially like giving them away.
Here's a handful for you:
© 2018 Jill Spencer