STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
For more than a century, those little, brightly colored, chalky candy hearts have helped people share their messages of love.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're talking about Sweethearts. This is a candy made by Necco, the New England confectionary company. Even Martha Stewart loved them.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MARTHA STEWART: And in my hand, I just happened to randomly pick out a handful. Miss you. Yes, dear. You are a 10. And, my pet, my love. So romantic.
INSKEEP: But this year, the romance is in short supply. Or, at least, the little hearts are. Necco, which was one of the oldest candy companies in America, abruptly shut down in 2018. And while a different company has purchased the Sweethearts' brand, it did not have enough time to produce enough candies for this Valentine's Day.
SHIRLEY GOULART: That's terrible. That's a staple. They're getting rid of the conversation hearts.
MARTIN: She's so upset. That's Shirley Goulart (ph). We caught up with her and Hannah Derousseau (ph) outside a candy store in Washington, D.C.
HANNAH DEROUSSEAU: I'm sorry. If they can put a man on the moon but they can't make hearts...
DEROUSSEAU: I'm sure that someone could do it. If they really wanted to, they could.
GOULART: Yes. It's a great way for kids to talk to each other that are shy when they're little. And I just think it's sad.
INSKEEP: Chris Stanovic (ph) in Los Angeles was one of those kids who used the candies to let his grade-school crushes know his feelings.
CHRIS STANOVIC: You know, I was a little kid walking up with those little heart-shaped candies in your hand. You know, sweaty palms-type of Valentine's, queasy stomach. You know, I think every kid did that at one point.
MARTIN: Let's be honest, though. These candies didn't taste that great. Carissa Brones (ph) from Los Angeles never cared for the chalky taste.
CARISSA BRONES: I would always throw 'em out and give 'em away. (Laughter). I'd rather have, like, chocolate candy or something better-tasting.
MARTIN: There are versions from competitors available, but not the classic. And you can still find Sweethearts on eBay for your valentine.
INSKEEP: Good to know. They may not be fresh, but it's the message that counts.