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Sweet Treats Rule Valentine’s Day

Gift givers can’t go wrong with candy this Valentine’s Day.

Jane Neal

February 5, 2024

3 Min Read
Valentines Gifts, Liliboas, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Valentines GiftsLiliboas, iStock / Getty Images Plus

It might not be as big as Christmas or Easter, and cynics might refer to it as just another “Hallmark holiday,” but there’s no denying the traditional popularity of Valentine’s Day. According to a survey by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), 68% of consumers say they celebrate the holidays most years. The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) numbers were a bit more conservative, finding that over half of consumers (53%) plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, on par with 52% last year.

Christmas was barely over, and shoppers began seeing licensing collabs in the candy aisle. For the first time, the Hershey’s brand and Snoopy teamed up to celebrate moments of togetherness and friendship with new Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates with Snoopy & Friends Foils and Heart Box. If you have kids in your life, you know that exchanging classroom Valentines is still a thing. Walk down the stationery aisle in most any retail store and find cards featuring Peanuts, “PAW Patrol,” “Bluey” and countless other licensed characters just waiting to thrill the kids with their first taste of puppy love.

But when it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s really all about the sweet stuff. The NCA reports 92% of Americans are embracing the sweet spirit of the Valentine’s Day season, saying they plan to share chocolate and candy with friends, family and loved ones throughout the first half of February. Candy and other sweet treats have long been a symbol of affection, regardless of the holiday. The NCA says that the widespread enthusiasm for chocolate and candy underscores their role as a social currency that allows consumers to foster connections and create memorable moments.  

“Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for people across the country to make simple yet meaningful gestures by sharing chocolate and candy,” says John Downs, president, chief executive officer, NCA. “People see these treats as tokens of love and happiness, and gifting chocolate and candy is a sentimental tradition that brings a unique sweetness to this season.” 

And it’s clear that Americans agree: The NCA found 94% of people in the U.S. say they would be excited to receive chocolate and candy for Valentine’s Day. This excitement reflects not just a preference for treats but a celebration of the emotional connections they bring. The NRF also reported candy is the most popular gift with 57% of shoppers buying candy.

Brachs Conversation Hearts

One big Valentine’s Day question remains, “Chocolate or not?” The NCA reports 60% of consumers favor classic heart-shaped chocolate boxes, an iconic staple of the season, while 40% prefer conversation hearts with quirky and endearing messages. Several companies produce conversation hearts, including Spangler (Sweethearts), Brach’s in the U.S. and Swizzels (Love Hearts) in the U.K. Bioworld International, a global licensed apparel and accessories company, recently announced it had secured the rights to the full Swizzels portfolio for apparel and a limited number of accessories, with much of the collection focusing on the 70th anniversary of Love Hearts. 

The NCA found that when it comes to those conversation hearts, consumers planning to share them with their loved ones like to convey a colorful spectrum of messages:

  • 52% opt for sweet and heartfelt messages

  • 28% prefer a touch of humor

  • 20% go for a hint of sarcasm  

A recent Valentine’s Day survey by Brach’s found most U.S. adults (78%) enjoy conversation hearts because the messages are fun to read. Those surveyed most often use conversation hearts to simply eat and enjoy (66%) or to tell someone that they are special (62%).

The appetite for Valentine’s Day candy in all its forms adds up to big numbers in revenue. In 2022, the seven-week Valentine’s Day selling season resulted in total candy, mint and gum (CMG) record sales of $4.1 billion, according to Information Resources, Inc. 

About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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