I've been meaning to post this for a while and I've been putting it off because I wanted to add more to it, but reading the exchange between me and the Necco customer service rep, Fran, again, I've decided it can stand on its own.
The Necco Company is quite good at responding to customer emails. I know this because I contacted them when I was a dewey-eyed humanities major at Pepperdine asking for a list of retired Sweethearts phrases, suggesting I could use it to make some statement about the evolution of the English language or something... I'm still waiting on the list, but they did send me a nice, personal response right away.
So anyway- when I picked up a box of Sweethearts here and found that all of the flavors had been changed with NO WARNING at all... I decided to contact Necco and tell them exactly how I felt. I typed it out and hit "send." No proofreading. Here you go:
"I think it's taken exactly 3 years for Southern California to run out of your original Sweethearts flavors because I can't find them ANYWHERE. I thought these bright-colored "tangy" replacements were just a phase you were going through. Now that's all I can get! They taste terrible! Why on earth did you ruin your wonderful product? Here's my hope: I hope that this is really just a brilliant marketing ploy to bring Sweethearts to the forefront of the American mind. You'll make us miss the original recipe SO BADLY that you'll just HAVE to bring back the original recipe which will result in a HUGE sales boost! Is that what you're doing? Please tell me that's what you're doing... that the original flavors are coming back. Please bring them back. I appreciate the long history of Sweethearts- that they date back to the civil war era... that they were once shell-shaped candy with paper messages that said things like "please send me a lock of your hair by return mail." I've seen them as a document of the way our language has changed over time. You have been around a long, long time... Sweethearts are an icon of Valentine's day. Maybe you don't think that the flavors are iconic as well? Are you trying to be competitive with the stronger-flavored Skittles or Starburst? What made you change? Whatever it is- it's not worth it and I think it's going to cause you to lose your fan base. We like how original you are!! Please bring back the original flavors!!"
I would love to watch Fran read my email. She took a deep breath and wrote me this response:
"Sorry you are disappointed with our NECCO Sweethearts/Conversation Hearts products. For your information, Valentines Season 2012 we brought back the old original/traditional flavors sold as the NECCO Classic Conversation Hearts. The Sweethearts and the Dazzled Tart Sweethearts are the newer flavors. The flavors in the Classic Conversation Hearts are cherry, banana, orange, lemon, wintergreen and grape. The flavors in the Sweethearts type are strawberry, grape, green apple, lemon, orange and blue raspberry. During past 2013 Valentines Season we produced both the Sweetheart flavors and the Classic Conversation Hearts flavors, but the Classic’s were only offered/sold as bulk items, the same for this upcoming 2014 Valentines Season. These products are seasonal items produced for the Valentines Season time of year. On website www.mynecco.com the Sweethearts are offered not the Classic Conversation Hearts. In California area you could check with Garvey Nut & Candy, Pico Rivera, CA; Candy Crate, Inc., Hesperia, CA & J. Sosnick & Son, S. San Francisco, CA - they did order the Classic Conversation Hearts in bulk. Thank you.
I ended up buying 3 lbs of the original flavors from Amazon... And my dad sent me some from PDX. Oddly enough, they still had boxes of original-flavor Sweethearts on the shelves. My sister tells me, however, that the last box she bought were the crappy new flavors... weird!