Super Bowl economics; sampling sweet nothings in Massachusetts; Chinese craft beer with a local kick; St. Moritz’s seriously slick horse race; superhero fashions in Manhattan
EVERY YEAR, EMPLOYEES of the Massachusetts candy company Necco gather to sort through thousands of suggestions for what to imprint on their iconic “conversation hearts.” The submissions, all sent in by customers, are hit-and-miss: “Here’s one that just says ‘Bacon,’” says research and quality VP Jeff Green, quizzically.
While some might like to imagine Cupid himself scrawling the sayings onto the sweets, which debuted nearly a century and a half ago (one early flavor was “musk”), the reality is that the slogans have to pass muster in the boardroom before they reach the public. “I got my first ‘Fist Pump’!” says products manager Jennifer Chambers. “What’s ‘BFFL’?” Green asks. “Best Friends For Life,” says Chambers, who admits she has a texting cheat sheet.
Digging deeper, Chambers notes, “Looks like there’s a lot of ‘Bieber Fever’ out there, especially in Texas.” Those get tossed.
“Hmm, ‘IOU a Kiss’ — that’s kind of cute,” she says. “My Panda” is nixed, as is the equally confusing “Peanut Butter & Jelly.” And then they strike gold: “Got Lips?” “Love, love, love it!” Green exclaims.
Long after the vetting process is complete and the candies have shipped, some boxes might still hold a few surprises, even for the Necco folks. “When you’re printing on candy,” Green says, “the letters can get cut off,” owing to the company’s antique stamping equipment. Sometimes this renders the message merely illegible, but at other times launches it into the realm of the vulgar. “Some people are irate,” he says, “but others call us to say, ‘Can I get more of these?’”
There’s one thing, however, that the company guarantees you’ll never see: a candy with a breakup slogan, like “Call My Lawyer.” Declares Chambers, “We’re all about the love!” — DIANE BAIR AND PAMELA WRIGHT
ILLUSTRATIONS BY PETER OUMANSKI