Though Valentine’s Day is not America’s most candy-centric holiday (that’s Halloween), it’s a close runner up. Boxed chocolates have been a popular gift on February 14th since the late 19th century, and the sugary repertoire has expanded to include such sweets as conversation hearts, pink and red M&Ms, chocolate roses and more. So what better occasion to muse on confectionery innovation with a look at some of the strangest and most interesting candy-related patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office?
The Machine That Brought Us Sweethearts
In the late 1840s, Boston pharmacist Oliver R. Chase invented and patented a machine meant to roll sugar paste to a high polish, stamp it with a design and cut it into shapes. His “Lozenge-Machine” is believed to be the first patented American candy machine. Two decades later, Oliver’s brother, Daniel Chase, figured out how to use vegetable dye to print words or images on the candy. The Chases used their improved lozenge machine to print wedding favor candies with phrases like “Married in Pink, He will take to drink” and “Married in White, You have chosen right.” In the early 1900s, Chase’s company, by then part of the New England Candy Company (NECCO) conglomeration, began cutting and printing the candies in the heart shapes we now know as Sweethearts. While NECCO has updated some of the Sweethearts’ sayings for the modern world (“Fax Me,” “Email Me” and “Tweet Me” have all made the rounds as technology has changed), originals remain. “Kiss Me” and “Be Mine” never go out of style.