Every Valentine’s Day I look forward to eating those little, bland-tasting candy hearts bearing simple messages like, “Be Mine,” and “First Kiss.” My guess is they are made out of a marshmallow sugar slurry which paste has been colored slightly – yellow, green, pink, orange, purple – and that likewise contain trace amounts of some indiscernible flavor supposedly matching, to a degree, the resultant candy heart’s color. They all taste the same to me regardless of their washed-out looking less-than-pastel coloring. Sometimes the messages, in a red candy-ink, get smeared or don’t set up at all or are otherwise unreadable. Big whoop – I eat these treats by the bagful. The candy hearts are analogous to the diamond, which may be produced artificially by applying intense pressure to a lump of coal. Imagine applying that same pressure, proportionately, to a standard sized marshmallow – the unflavored and uncolored result would be a pure, white, candy heart. Which is not to say that the candy color and flavor is entirely without import to the eater.
This year, my wife was too late at the store to get the standard no-name brand candy hearts. What she purchased instead was the Sweethearts (from the same bunch, apparently, that makes Sweet-Tarts). They have a similar stale marshmallow powder consistency when bitten into as the traditional Valentine hearts, but the taste in some instances, can be surprisingly intense. Also, and it is not clear why this should be the case, the empty bag scanned above contained not a single purple grape-flavored heart. Furthermore, the consistency of the blue supposedly raspberry-flavored hearts was a little chewy, like gum. This bag’s batch of blue hearts was intensely sour, whereas the bag I opened yesterday contains blue hearts that are milder in flavor. My guess is that a temporary-agency worker at the factory showed up drunk on his last day before lay-off and added too much blue flavor to the slurry vat. Can you say, “Not eligible for rehire?”