Point/Counterpoint: Let’s talk conversation hearts

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Illustration by Anna Iorfino.

Once a year, every year, a candy like no other arrives in stores across the country. This candy has been subjected to heated debate ever since its creation in 1847, as some uphold it as the height of romance while others disgrace it as icky and unappetizing. Today, two Life writers have come head-to-head to debate this (in)famous dessert in a conversation about the most controversial candy of our time: conversation hearts. 

Rebecca Maher (ALE): As a child, I lived for Valentine’s Day at my elementary school. All of my friends, acquaintances and enemies would come into class with backpacks full of candy and funny cards to distribute around the room. And no matter how popular or unpopular you were, you would come away from the experience with a shoebox filled to the brim with treats. Of these treats, my favorite was and is conversation hearts.  

While I’ve never been a fan of Necco Wafers, there was something about these incarnations that brought me immense joy. I loved sliding my friends “Be Mine” and “Rock Star” hearts, because — let’s face it — they are the definition of wholesome. When you see a heart that reminds you of your friend — or, better yet, when your friend sees one that reminds them of you — there is quite literally nothing sweeter than sliding it over like a miniature card. The giving and receiving of these candies allow people to express themselves and their love for each other in a way that is not overtly embarrassing or romantic. It gives people a way to reach out to each other without fear of being rebuffed. You didn’t write the note, but you share the feeling. So pass the candy. 

Beyond that, I also enjoy the taste. I like to let the hearts melt in my mouth in the manner of a lollipop and pretend the cute message has been imprinted on my tongue. 

Lesly Nerette Jr. (CC): Whether the love you harbor is romantic or platonic, Valentine’s Day is the perfect way to let someone know you cherish and appreciate them. On Valentine’s Day, love has no fragrance, but it fills a room in the form of gifts. Among these gifts, candy is the most common and appreciated.  

I love all types of candy and reject nothing! However, if I had the option to, I would turn away all conversation hearts. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to even be thought of on this day, but conversation hearts have just never sat right with me: They are always so chalky, lacking in flavor and seem trite after all these years. As for the small messages, they are adorable and punny, but I have never been one for minced words, so a small card would do just as well!  

Again, the intentions behind these hearts bring a smile to my face, but there is so much more flavorful candy to be had, and conversation hearts are just not among them.  

RM: Clearly my opponent does not understand the merits of chalky candy. Think PEZ, Smarties and conversation hearts. All of these candies have a fantastic, satisfying crunch that beats a chocolate bar any day. Furthermore, since they are more similar to hard candies, they last much longer than the fun size candy bars most people pass out on Valentine’s Day. Thus, you get the same sugar rush of a Hershey’s Kiss, but with a much longer period of enjoyment. 

But even if you hate the taste of this candy — for some inexplicable reason — it also doubles as actual chalk that you can use to decorate your driveway or sidewalk. Thus, it is more versatile than any other candy on the market. And for this reason, among others, conversation hearts are the No. 1 candy you should give your valentine this Sunday. 

LN: Rebecca, friend, I think you may have put too much dip on your chip with this take. Versatility is a virtue that these conversation hearts hold, but unlike Smarties and PEZ, these conversation hearts mimic a medicine flavor. Beyond this, chocolates and other fruit-flavored candies come with many different layers and flavors as opposed to this one, outdated taste.  

Also, I don’t know how I’d feel about candy that can be used as chalk going into my body; this is why Smarties and PEZ are my last go-to. I prefer to vacuum the gold that I’ve received throughout this day, as opposed to playing with candy that may have even more questionable ingredients than most.  

Preeminently, we are free to eat what we find appealing, but if y’all love yourselves and your platonic or significant other, please get them other candy this upcoming Valentine Sunday. 

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