You see them every year. “Be Mine.” “Soulmate.” “My Love.” And to show your appreciation for these romantic, expressive displays of vulnerability, you gobble them down like chickenfeed.

Ah, candy hearts – the chalky, Pez-like, tooth assailants that help New Englanders make new partners or meet HR representatives. They’re nationally, perhaps even globally, famous, and were invented and manufactured right here in Massachusetts.

Officially known as “Sweethearts,” the candy’s origin can be traced back to 1866, when Daniel Chase began printing messages on candy. Using a machine he invented to decorate sweets for weddings or anniversary parties, Chase would stamp simple, romantic sayings onto small candies or lozenges, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Heart-shaped candies were first developed and distributed in 1901. As Valentine’s Day gained momentum as a commercial holiday throughout the 1900s, Sweethearts helped put the Necco candy company of Revere, Massachusetts, on the map as a real-life Wonka.

With respect to Mr. Chase, Necco, and those who consume Sweethearts: why? In my nearly four decades on this Earth, I don’t think I’ve finished more than one candy heart. Seriously.

But I remember every minute of it. This chalky, vitamin-like jawbreaker that seems like a trap set by dentists.

I’ve never understood the appeal of these neon stove pellets. And you can’t be serious when you tell me you’d rather eat a Sweetheart than some rich, delicious candy corn.

I suppose it all comes down to the messages more than the taste. Even if the candy’s taste could use improvement, it’s a nice feeling to learn that you match the taste of someone new.

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