NECCO sweet on ’Twilight’ film
By Donna Goodison
Thursday, January 15, 2009

New England Confectionery Co.’s Sweethearts Conversation Hearts are going from “I Love You” and “Marry Me” to “Bite Me.”

The Revere candy company wants to make the 143-year-old line more relevant to teens and tweens with a tie-in to the popular “Twilight” film based on the best-selling vampire romance novels.

NECCO will release softer, sparkling versions of the pastel sugar hearts in March, when the film is released on DVD. The printed messages will include “Bite Me,” “Secret” and “Soul Mate,” and flavors such as “orange obsession” and “tempting apple.” More Sweethearts will hit stores for the November release of the “New Moon” sequel.

Sweethearts are billed as the best-selling Valentine’s candy, with more than 8 billion produced annually in Revere. NECCO yesterday unveiled its 10 new Valentine’s Day messages, which have a “Menu of Love” theme.

But the nation’s oldest continuously operating candy company, which posts $100 million in annual revenue, is looking to extend the brand beyond Feb. 14. “The idea is we can provide our consumers a vehicle for any time they want to say something sweet or express an emotion,” president and CEO Richard Krause said.

“Red, White & You” Sweethearts will debut for Memorial Day as a tie-in with the USO, the nonprofit whose mission is to support U.S. troops. They’ll be printed with 13 patriotic messages, including “My Hero,” “Home Safe,” “Valor” and “I (Heart) USA.”

Other NECCO product innovations will include four new flavors for its Mary Janes: vanilla, s’mores, raspberry and banana peanut butter. NECCO Wafers, which date to 1847, also are being reformulated. And the 70-year-old Sky Bar will jump on the “Twilight” bandwagon with custom-molded shapes tied to the characters’ crests.

“We have a great opportunity in this business,” Krause said. “We have some really iconic brands. We’ve done a lot of research, and our consumers want us to take these brands into new directions.”

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