Map of states’ favorite Valentine’s candies reveals a chalky, inexplicable champion

Graphic: vectortatu (iStock)

Conversation hearts are the favorite Valentine’s Day candy in 20 American states, according to 11 years of sales data compiled by CandyStore.com. Those Tums-like candies beat out boxed chocolates, Hershey’s Kisses, and candy necklaces, which no one bothered to tell Alabama isn’t really a Valentine’s Day candy.

How is this possible? I ask this as a person who actually likes conversation hearts. I find their crumbly crunch appealing somehow, probably because it’s a mix of nostalgia and these-candies-come-but-once-a-year opportunism. Also, I hardly ever buy a box; they’re mostly gifted to me by office receptionist. Even as a conversation hearts fan, I can’t explain their supremacy on this list. While I like them, they’re far from my favorite Valentine’s Day candy. Presumably, wherever a person would buy those candy hearts, there are also displays of chocolate and Reese’s and gummi candies and M&Ms and literally anything else.

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Valentine’s Day candies are lame in general, but even if you like conversation hearts, could you really claim them as your top choice? If you were offered a box of hearts or a box of chocolate—barring a chocolate allergy—would you not always reach for the chocolates? The allergy issue got me thinking, though, that this could account for candy hearts’ popularity. If a teacher is going to bring in some candy for her students, conversation hearts are chocolate- and nut-free, and really cheap. They don’t melt or get stuck in kids’ hair, and they’re packaged in simple square boxes.

Is the popularity of conversation hearts entirely explained by this candy’s convenience? Candy-heart purchasers, explain this to me.

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About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.