“Stay True” Little Chalky, Corn-syrupy Affirmations

A lot of us are feeling the winter doldrums in full force right now.

Part of it is the cold weather and lack of sun.

Part of it, since I’m updating this post for 2017, is post-election anxiety.

And another part, for me anyway, a girl who made her debut into this crazy world during the stark of a Minnesota winter, is the realization I’m a year older again. If I stand on my tippy toes, I can peer into the other side of the half-century mark.

For the past few years, between my late January birthday and Valentine’s Day, my moods swing back and forth as though I’m in the front seat of Steel Venom, that U-shaped inverted roller coaster at Valleyfair my kids coaxed me into riding on a couple years ago.

All I can say when I feel this way is . . . thank goodness for conversation hearts.

Colorful Candy Conversation Hearts for Valentine's Day

You know. Those small sweetheart sugar candies that bring back memories of school Valentine parties and childhood crushes with their quirky messages that make us swoon and release a wellspring of happy neurochemicals in our body.

Around this time, I typically grab at least a ten-pack of those little boxes for my kids and a big bag for myself that I hide in my secret sweet spot in the pantry.

After leaving the store,  I climb into my car, lock the doors, rip open the bag, and dig through it for a message that speaks to me, depending on my emotional state or needs in that moment, such as “Chill Out,”  “Be Happy,” or “URA Tiger.”

Then, I lean back against my seat, close my eyes, and allow the little chalky, corn syrupy affirmation to dissolve on my tongue and spill into my brain bringing back feelings of peace of mind and potential.

Well, it’s fun to imagine they could do that anyway.

Can you believe the history of those conversation hearts dates back to before the Civil War?

It all started when Oliver Chase, founding father of the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), invented America’s first patented candy machine in 1847. Coincidentally, that’s right around the same time anesthesia was first used for tooth extractions.

Then in the 1860’s, Chase’s brother, Daniel, figured out a way to use a felt roller pad dipped in vegetable oil to press words onto little lozenges produced by that machine.

Imagine living prior to the existence of the candy machine! I shudder at the thought. I don’t know about you, but candy plays a pivotal role in my pursuit of happiness.

Whether I get it from the bottom of a vending machine, during a mad impulse while uploading broccoli heads, frozen pizzas and dog food on conveyor belts, or during a desperate dig in the months-old Halloween stash in the back of my kids’ closet, candy is an essential part of my daily balance.

It must be sort of tricky for those candy heart makers to come up with relevant and unoffensive mottoes with just enough space for two or three short words. I appreciate their attempts to “Stay True” to the timeless classics such as “Be Mine” and “Kiss Me.” However, like most businesses, they’ve caved here and there to stay inline with current culture.

I can understand that to a point. Replacing “Fax Me” with “Text Me” made sense.  However, I was entirely disheartened when “Let’s Read,” “Occupy My Heart,” and “Shine Bright”  were retired in favor of various texting lexicons and a mustache emoticon.

What does an imprint of a mustache do for anybody’s endorphin and oxytocin levels?


Each year, NECCO receives hundreds of suggestions for new sayings. And, although, I never make their deadline, I’ve made it an annual tradition (starting last year) to come up with my own list of suggestions.

I’m guessing they received a lot of late submissions regarding the current political minefield from both sides, such as “Dump Trump,” “Fake News”, “Post-Truth,” “Resist,” “Build a Wall,” “Anti Liberal Zone,” “Pant Suit,” “Fire the Fool,” etc.

I’m all for free speech, but those do absolutely nothing to rejuvenate my brain receptors! So in an effort to unclog neurotransmitters and bump up feelings of happiness and joy everywhere, I give you my candy heart saying recommendations for 2017. What would you suggest?



  1. Love Big
  2. Unplug
  3. Be a Light
  4. Humble ♥
  5. URA Human
  6. Eat Fudge
  7. Midlife Mojo
  8. Snort Laugh
  9. Quick Nap
  10. Hold the Door
  11. Shhh. Listen.
  12. Wine o’clock


  1. Let Go
  2. It’ll Pass
  3. Fuzzy Socks
  4. Hi Adele
  5. How RU?
  6. A New Day
  7. Dine Out
  8. Merlot Me
  9. Be Kind
  10. Amen

If you really want a burst of joy, love, and humanity this Valentine’s Day, check out the “HERE IN THE MIDDLE” musical photo gallery. It includes images directly relating to the new anthology I was fortunate to co-curate called Here In The Middle, filled with stories of real people, real heroes stretching to help care for the people they love.


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Julie Jo Severson, former PR girl, is now a freelance writer, editor, and mom of two teens and a tween. This blog, Carvings on a Desk, is where she reconnects with her own voice swirling around in the middle.

CLICK HERE to learn about the brand new collection of stories Julie recently collaborated on with Christine Organ, called HERE IN THE MIDDLE: Stories of Love, Loss, and Connection from the Ones Sandwiched in Between.
♦ CLICK HERE to view her other recent stories.
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About Julie Jo Severson

Julie Jo Severson, former PR girl, is now a freelance writer, journalist, editor, and lost-and-found attendant for two teens and a tween. This is where she doodles about past, present, future clinking glasses and making peace.

28 comments on ““Stay True” Little Chalky, Corn-syrupy Affirmations

  1. OH gosh I swear I love you more every time I read one of your (candy) pieces… 🙂 LOL

    I think your new words are PERFECT!!

    Although I much prefer chocolate goodness or the juicy delectable oozing sugar goop (Swedish fish)- the chalk hearts are worthy of attention due to their mission. Let me think of what I can add to this fun!


    *You matter
    *BAE <–I just learned this new word in my youth group last night!
    *Go away
    *Try again
    *End it
    *Let It Go

    I realize I could go on forever with these!! I think you and I could start our own candy company with much better messages than these chalky sweethearts.

    Wouldn't THAT be fun? 🙂 If you're in, I'M IN.

  2. Ha! Yes, that would be fun!! But something tells me wouldn’t stop giggling long enough to take care of the business side of things. I love your list. But I hate to tell you, NECCO retired groovy looooong ago. I love that word, too, and I really don’t understand why they couldn’t have held on to it. Some things just need to be left alone.

  3. I have always loved conversation hearts too! Neat story about the history of the first patented candy machine. We would use Necco wafers to decorate the roof of our gingerbread house when I was growing up. Such great memories.

  4. Uugh! I feel those winter doldrums too – a bit of blue sky can make the difference between a good day or not. We have Love Hearts in the UK – I reckon the oldies are the goodies; I’d much rather find ‘Love you’ than ‘Text Me’. x #WhatImWriting

  5. Loved this!! Made me laugh! And the history of the candy is fabulous too! I’m also sad to learn that “Let’s read” is no longer there but an emoticon is, though I guess it’s a sign of the time. Loved your additions, especially Merlot Me and Let Go. How about U Rock. Is that already one? I’ll be thinking of you as I eat my hearts this year! : )

  6. I love this…and the conversational hearts! I had no idea they’d been around that long. They definitely bring me right back to my childhood, and trying to understand the meaning behind the one a boy just gave me. I really like Merlot Me, and definitely think it should be added. 🙂

  7. These look similar to the ‘love hearts’ we have in the UK. I remember reading meaning into them as a teen – my friends and I would eat a packet together saying things like ‘this is to you from x’ (‘x’ being the boy we fancied). I’d forgotten that actually till you reminded me! Ah, memories! I’d never thought of using them as affirmations till now. Good plan. I’m all for ‘Merlot me’. ‘Cake me’ could be good too! Do they do a BFF? Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

  8. They’ve retired words? Who knew? i had no idea. However I do remember how they taste. Chalky Corn-syrupy sums it up beautifully. Haven’t had one in ages so I was grinning when I read that you hide yourself away to enjoy a handful or six. I really should do that too. I used to also enjoy the heart-shaped suckers that came out at Valentine’s Day. I remember them as being huge, crimson and clear. Did you ever have one of those?

  9. I have a real soft spot for love hearts… Even though I tend to try really hard to avoid sugar most of the time there is something about the combination of the little messages and that sugar rush that works wonders for the spirit! x

  10. Another vote for Love Hearts here! But I’m also said that many of the original messages on both of these sweets have been replaced with ‘text speak’. I love your list of suggestions, and would add ‘Just Be’ and You’re Beauty-Full to that, off the top of my head! 🙂

  11. This is great! I love that you have a routine for this time of year. We have similar sweets in the form of Love Hearts. I would put the words ‘Hug Me’ on there – because who doesn’t need a hug to feel better?! 🙂 #WhatIAmWriting

  12. This is full of awesomeness Julie! My favorite of your suggestions is Fuzzy Socks. And a mustache emoticon? That’s just weird. Is Be Brave on a candy heart? If not, I could use getting that one sometimes. SUCH a fun post 🙂

  13. Hi Julie Jo,
    I considered being an anchor woman. I studied Journalism in college. Now, I teach Yearbook design. I also teach history, relevant since you discussed the history of the candy. I liked your suggestions. Was “Hi Adele” because of the singer?
    Thanks again for your visit to my site today and your comments on my blogging tips post.

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